Last week, I led a free workshop at the local library to help participants choose a "Guiding Word of the Year." This is one strategy to begin 2019 with intention. The idea is that you choose a word to focus on for the whole year. As you make big decisions, you think about your word. As you go about your daily business, you think about your word. The word becomes your compass as you decide what direction you will take throughout the year.
To prepare for my workshop, I tried a simplified version of the exercise with my daughters, ages 7 and 9. I asked them what they wanted to work on in 2019. What do you want to be better at? What kind of person do you want to be?
My children, while far from perfect, are somewhat self aware. So it's fitting that my smart and talented, but overly cautious and easily distractible eldest chose: DETERMINATION. My charismatic and social, but over-the-top emotional youngest chose SELF-CONTROL. While this is no magic fix (cue the stomping, screaming fit less than 20 minutes after we completed the activity), it does give us a common focal point and a place to start the discussion on making positive changes in behavior.
My workshop at the library was a fun one. I led seven women (where all the men at?!?) through a series of exercises to bring awareness and encourage brainstorming about areas of their lives that could use more intention. If you want to try it out, here are the steps you can take (adapted from this post):
1. Jot down answers to these questions. Do not edit or censor yourself.
-What could I use more of in my life?
-What could I use less of in my life?
-What characteristics would I like to have?
-How do I want to feel (more often than I do now)?
-What kind of person do I want to be?
*Funny side note: I completed the activities along with the others, and totally stumbled on the first question. I wrote what came to mind, and the first two words on that list were horses and vegetables. Ha! While I always want more horsey time and certainly don't eat enough vegetables (I mean, who does?), I knew that neither of those would be my word of the year. But that's the brainstorming process for you...anything goes. I eventually got to some more useful concepts such as organization, motivation, and planning.*
2. I led the group through a guided meditation and you can do this on your own. Spend some time in silence, thinking about your perfect day. It can be one from memory or a theoretical one that hasn't happened yet. Spend some time here. Where are you? Who are you with? What are you doing? What do you hear and see and smell? Most importantly, how do you feel? Consider what it means to be the best version of yourself in the best version of your life. Finally, take some time to just ponder the question: What word do I want to guide me through 2019?
3. Do a mind dump! Looking at the lists from the questions in #1 and thinking about what came to you in #2, write all the words that come to mind. Don't hesitate. Don't judge or revise. This is the google idea board phase...anything goes! Allow yourself to be surprised by your own ideas. Don't stop when the flow ceases being easy. Wallow in the writer's block for a few moments and see what else surfaces from the depths. If you need inspiration, you can check out this list.
4. From your hopefully long list of ideas, pick 3-5 words that call to you the loudest. Star or highlight them. Then, spend a minute contemplating each word separately. Notice how it makes you feel. Excited? Scared? Peaceful? If you just came out of a stressful time, you might want to go with the more calming word. If you are bored or restless, pick the one that excites you. Don't overthink it. Listen to your inner voice.
5. Make yourself a visual reminder. At the workshop, we made rearview mirror hangers. My oldest daughter is using hers as a bookmark. Make a sign to put up in your bedroom or office. Set a reminder on your phone. Whatever works for you.
My final three words were AMBITION, COMPASSION, and DECLUTTER. I settled on DECLUTTER. It wasn't my favorite word...not by a long shot. I chose it because 1) It's necessary. I need to declutter my physical space and my mental space. I need to declutter the way I spend my time so that I can focus on what's important. I need to declutter my mind chatter and get in better touch with my inner voice. I need to get rid of junk, organize my spaces, and simplify. 2) It's challenging. Of the words I brainstormed, declutter presents the greatest challenge. It will take time and intention. I will need to do a lot of decluttering just to tackle the process of decluttering. 3) It has the potential to bring the most benefit. If I can really focus on this word, I can streamline my life, my thoughts, and my space. I'm nervous, I'm excited, and I'm motivated.
Other great words came out of the workshop. Some participants came in with an idea and stuck with it. Others changed their word, a couple to their own surprise. Everyone had excellent reasons for the words they chose, which include: FEARLESS, AUTHENTICITY, LUMINESCE, WISDOM, PEACE, THRIVE and LOVE.
Choosing a word is a great start, but to keep it from remaining just a vague or abstract idea, here are a few extension activities to help you apply it.
I would love to hear what word you choose and how you implement it in your life. And if you want help setting goals or applying ideas, contact me to schedule a complimentary mini session to explore how a life coach can assist you in making positive changes.