I believe that words are powerful, and so the practice of selecting a word, just one word, to shape an entire year makes perfect sense to me. It’s clear I’m not alone in this thinking, because so many people are taking on this practice in 2016, largely because of the popular book, One Word by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton, and Jimmy Page.
The authors of One Word begin the book by sharing their own personal journeys in arriving to the idea that focusing on a single word for an entire year can have a significant impact on our lives. They share that selecting a word to be our guide is an introspective process, and they invite us to begin our own journey with these simple steps: 1) Prepare your heart, 2) Discover your word, and 3) Live your word.
Early on in the book, the authors discuss the idea of a “stretch team” and the importance of sharing the word with others. They also talk about how the one word we select will have an impact on many facets of our lives including: spiritual, physical, emotional, relational, mental, and financial areas.
Once a word has been selected for the year, the authors share ways that we can keep the word “front and center” in our lives. Suggestions like putting the word on our computer’s screensaver or posting it in our kitchen or car, journaling about the word, and even choosing a song that reminds us of our word are some of the strategies the authors give for making sure that we stay focused on the word throughout the year. And again, they discuss the idea of sharing the word with a close group of people, a “stretch team.”
It is suggested that each year we start afresh with a new word, not repeating words or carrying them over from year to year. At the same time, the authors also ask that we resist the urge to take a “to do list” or “check the box” approach toward this practice. They place a strong emphasis on the One Word approach being a continuous journey.
I would absolutely recommend this book, which is a pretty quick read, to anyone who is open to or looking for new ways of setting intentions and becoming more mindful about how our everyday actions and decisions, including the specific words we use, impact our lives.
FITTING THE IDEAS INTO MY OWN PRACTICE
(One of my personal reading goals for 2016 is to spend more time reflecting on the books that I read and intentionally incorporating new information into my own life, comparing information or experiences, and seeking out additional or related information. To do this, I’m talking about the books I read with the #SixtyBooks community, keeping a journal just for the books I read this year, and taking the time to write a blog post for each book I read. )
I first started the practice of keeping what I called a “focus word” a few years ago. It was right after a period of time in which I was dealing with many (many!) changes all at once. Because of this, I found myself reflecting on how I wanted to respond to all of the change, the one thing that I knew I could control.
I selected a word, an adjective, as a mantra that I would repeat over and over to myself. When faced with a task or decision, I thought of this adjective and selected the option that I felt reflected it best. I lived each day to embody the word. I used the word when I wrote privately as well as in conversation, not only in describing myself but everyone and everything around me. It was an amazing and powerful experience. Before long, I noticed that people (those I knew well and even total strangers) were using this word to describe me, my actions, and my efforts, and I truly felt like the word described who I was. It worked!
Much like the authors of One Word suggest, I’ve continued to select a new word (for me it’s always an adjective) every January. Where my practice and the authors’ practice differ, however, is that I am very careful not to share my word, at least not in…so many words.
Instead, while I keep the word itself private, I let my actions and the influence the word has on me communicate the focus word. I’m able to know when I am successfully making the intended improvements in my life or growing as a person when I notice others use the word I’ve been focusing on to describe me, my behaviors, or my work.
While I agree with the authors that a single word has the power to shape our entire lives and that we need to “live our word” I think it’s important to keep in mind that how we choose to do so is very personal. One person’s strategy will not necessarily work for everyone else. For me, part of the reason this practice has worked so well is that I make many efforts to express my focus word in other ways than sharing the word itself. For other people sharing the word might make it more meaningful. It’s different for everyone.
From the authors’ site:
One Word creates clarity, power, passion and life-change. The simple power of One Word is that it impacts all six dimensions of your life – mental, physical, emotional, relational, spiritual, and financial. Simply put, One Word sticks. There is a word meant for you and when you find it, live it, and share it, your life will become more rewarding and exciting than ever.