It’s time to separate the pretenders from the contenders. Those whose New Year’s Resolutions are already gathering dust from those who are serious about their commitments for 2016. Let me encourage you to put yourself in that latter group (even if you’re noticing some dust) and take those steps toward your accomplishing your goals. Here’s one strategy that can help – the word of the year.
I’ve heard it from my coach and I’ve heard it from my pastor: “What’s your word of the year?” This is the word that can inspire and guide you as you move into the new year. Pope Francis has given the church one such word: Mercy, and it has already taken root in pews and congregations throughout the world. Rather than setting vague resolutions (which tend not come to fruition), identifying one clear word can help to clarify your vision – who you want to be, what you want to do – in the coming year.
Last year this worked great for me. What was my word, you’re wondering? Passion. Passion helped to activate me, bring ideas into action, and bring purpose to those actions. The result – the most professionally fulfilling year of my practice, leading more talks, workshops and retreats (part of my passion) than in years past.
What’s my word this year? I’m still sorting it out. More importantly, what’s your word this year? Here’s three suggestions:
Presence. We want it now… better yet we want it yesterday. We’re a fast food nation, junkies for breaking news. “You can have immediate gratification… only $9.99 plus shipping and handling.” The problem we think is never having enough time. Truth be told, lack of time isn’t the problem. It’s how we abuse that time by trying to do too much. The result: We’re all over the place, but we’re never home.
Presence is honoring the time and space that you are in – right here, right now. Being mindful could be defined as being aware of what’s going on now – not in the past, not in future. Presence is the invitation to slow down and connect with your body, mind, soul and those around you. The word “Presence” keeps you focused on becoming your best self, so that your life is in line with your values and goals.
Gratitude. We live in a world of entitlement. We should have it, and if we don’t we look to blame someone or something for it, and when that doesn’t work then sue to get it. This doesn’t bring happiness. It does invite resentment.
Last year I hit one of those milestone birthdays. A few months prior I started thinking about it. And what started coming up were the regrets… the woulda, coulda, shouldas… all the ways I could have been a better father, husband, psychologist, church member, etc., etc. And that negativity can just breed on itself. So I decided to do something different. I decided to reflect upon the people in my life who were important to me, and then send them a card to say thank you. So in the weeks leading up to that day, I took time out on most days to do just this. And it was incredible. What emerged was an overwhelming sense of gratitude, connecting with the many blessings which have been bestowed upon me. Rather than focus on what I didn’t have and stew about it, I focused on what I did have and how to respond in gratitude and service.
And I tell you this not to say look at me how I did something great, but simply to say how easy it is to fall into the place of regret or entitlement & how necessary it is to take action – not just think about it, but put it into action. The word “Gratitude” focuses our attitude and inspires this action.
Intimacy. For all the advances in technology that give us more ways to communicate, we have never been more alone. The technology itself is wonderful, yet it’s also the new addiction. With all the people around us in the big city, one can easily feel alone. What we’ve lost along the way to create true intimacy, mistaking a tweet for a hug, or a text from genuinely looking into another’s eyes.
Richard Bach said “The opposite of loneliness is not togetherness , it’s intimacy” The invitation here is to genuinely connect with others in all of our interactions. – being vulnerable to speak as well as to listen. The most important factor that determines our happiness is the quality of our relationships. Let the word “Intimacy” challenge you to take stock of your relationships, what they mean to you and how you can grow them.
So, what will be your word of the year?