Like most people I see the new year as an opportunity to recharge and set new goals and milestones. But sometimes the pressure to achieve something new can be overwhelming. This is why I try to focus on a word of the year. Just one word but with a much broader meaning. It can be a simple thought, feeling, skill, or trait. One word that will help me grow personally, professionally, and spirituality. These are the three most important aspects of having a word of the year.
Personal growth – not a new year’s resolution
Let me be objective: choosing a word of the year is not about setting a new year’s resolution. It’s so much more than that. Take losing weight as an example. As I look at the world of social media the month of January is primetime for meme creators. We’ve all seen the pictures of crowded gyms on January 1st, poking fun at people who want to make a change. A word of the year would allow you to take a holistic approach that goes beyond your physical appearance.
I’ve done this exercise for many years now and the way your word changes year after year reveals much about who you are and who you are becoming. Last year my word was trust and it carried me to a place where I discovered how I can be a better husband, father, son, brother, and leader when I trust the people closest to me. My recent blog posts reflect that. This year my word of the year is peace. And in the example of potentially wanting to lose weight, the word peace gives me the ability to pursue that goal with the freedom to make decisions that go beyond my physical health.
Professional growth – not focused on money and promotions
If you know me you know I like work. I think this desire to work and be successful grew on me from an early age and for various reasons. I recall my parents modest lifestyle that allowed us to live comfortably but with some reservations, and early on that reality planted a desire for me to make more money for my family. Or when I graduated from college with top grades and landed a job ahead of many of my peers. This made me want recognition by moving up the corporate ladder quickly. Choosing a word of the year doesn’t mean I disregard these desires or declare defeat to these goals if I don’t achieve them, instead it allows me to see growth even if that is not the end result.
If I can be honest, seeing growth beyond the promotion and financial raise was difficult for me. Much of my career journey has been made of ups and downs. And in light of this reality the word peace provides me the comfort to navigate these experiences with controlled emotions, without loosing sense of the learning opportunities that are present in the here and now. This approach has actually allowed me to grow from each position I’ve held with the different teams I’ve worked with. Even when the promotions didn’t happen when I wanted them to happen, overall I am a better professional because of all these experiences.
Spiritual growth – not a set of rules
Every time I write or speak of spiritual growth I know I am getting into personal space. But I don’t want to shy away from it either (there is peace in this too). Whether you believe in a deity or not the truth is that wholesome living and real growth happens when you see mind, body, and spirit as one. The way I think and the way I act are connected through my soul. I believe this is why Jesus wanted a relationship with us. It has nothing to do with my appearance or my level of knowledge. It’s all about a relationship.
Wherever you are in your relationship with God my hope is that you seek a word that allows you to find your purpose beyond the things of this world. I believe this is the part of your life that unlocks the most growth in the personal and the professional. The spiritual side of your word helps you answer the question why. Why do I want to lose weight? Why do I want to be promoted at work? The way you think and act come from your beliefs which are shaped by this relationship. Your word can help you in this conversation. There is no set rules as to how you do this. That is the beautiful part of it. For me it is starting every day reading scripture and writing my thoughts and prayers in a journal. For you it may be different.
Have you chosen a word of the year before? How has that word shaped your life? Comment and share below.