Hint: Your Word is Not Ganache

These flags (made by my daughter) hang in the very middle of our house to remind us of the important things in life.

I’m going to veer off the business path (well, only a little bit) and share with you all one of my favourite things to do at this time of year. A long time ago I gave up on New Year Resolutions, mostly because I was very good at making them and ALSO very good at breaking them. For a couple of weeks I’d be a nicer person, exercise more, have fewer Oreos, call my family more often….but then life would get in the way and I’d slowly slide out of my angelic behaviour. I’d then spend too much time feeling crappy about my failed resolutions, which made me eat more, which made me grumpier. Not a pretty cycle, that!

Some years ago I ran across a concept called the Word of the Year on Christine Kane’s blog. The basic idea is that you pick a word which is going to define your year – the overarching theme to your year rather than a whole laundry list of stuff which invaribaly falls into the “coulda, shoulda, woulda” categories.

I think this is a pretty genius concept, and Christine explains it better than I could, but I wanted to share how it’s worked for me. The first time, I found it really hard to do and frankly, a little too airy-fairy woo-woo spiritual rubbish new agey crazy…but I stuck with it because I’m tenacious like that.  I should also say that while I love doing this exercise, no, I didn’t think about the word all the time. Once I’ve picked it, I usually write it down somewhere obvious like on a post-it stuck in my day planner or on my computer screen. Then I’d notice it – or not- at several points in the year. I would often come back to that word when I was feeling frustrated, low, or needed a bit of a reminder that there were things which were a lot more important than my immediate funk. In small business it can be so easy to get entirely swallowed up by the problem of the day, can’t it?

Sometimes whole months might go by and I’ll not give my word of the year a single thought – and that’s okay. It’s the kind of tool you just tuck into your kit (along with your favourite palette knife, flower cutter and apron) and pull it out when you need it. I also found that telling my word of the year to a close friend helped – because when I’d text him with, “I’m feeling crap about this,” he’d text back with, “What was your word of the year again?” which reminded me to get out of the bowl of irritation soup I was swimming in.

Last year I picked a word that was more about what I hoped to do rather that what I knew I would do. The word was ‘reflection’ – because I never stop and just look back at what I’ve achieved. For me it’s always about what I’m in the process of doing or planning to do – there is very little in the way of self-cheerleading or celebration of success because I’m always looking forward rather than back. I struggled with that word though – because for me it became another thing I *wasn’t* doing as well as I should so it reminded me of my failure. On the flip side of that, it acted as a reminder for me to stop and reflect- which was the point of the whole thing anyway!

The concept is a pretty flexible one – and I’ve found it very useful over the years so I thought I’d share it with you. Sometimes my life can feel entirely consumed by my business, and doing this exercise is a great reminder to me that nobody ever lay on their death bed wishing they had spent more time at work. Your life – and your work – should be so much bigger than the day to day details and the Word of the Year is a great way to make that happen.

Have a happy, healthy, reflective New Year!

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