I’ve never been a fan of a traditional resolutions. In my mind, the second the word “resolution” crosses your lips, you’re destined to fail. Maybe not in a spectacular flash, but in a gentle petering out of intentions. The slow slide from a healthy Monday morning breakfast to a rushed Friday morning Pop Tart. Or the winding down of a three-day-a-week exercise routine to a once-a-month game of catch with your kid. Resolutions carry with them the sting of future disappointment, and perhaps that’s why so many folks these days eschew the process. That said, the concept of setting an intention is one of the most powerful things you can do as you prepare for the year ahead, and it’s something I encourage all small business owners to take part in – for the sake of themselves and their businesses.
For better or for worse, the word “resolution” is indeed the word that most of the world uses when it comes to setting intentions for the year ahead, and so for our purposes today, I will too. As I do so, though, I hope to turn the word on its head, making sure it means everything it can to help you and your small business win in the New Year.
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I’m a fan of goals, and one of my favorite things to do in the New Year is to go ahead and set my personal and professional goals for the year ahead. A corollary practice to traditional goal-setting, however, has to do with the idea of setting one intention – we’ll call it a resolution– for the year ahead. Some refer to this as a Word of the Year, and it’s a practice I first read about a handful of years ago and have stuck fast to ever since.
The concept is simple. At the beginning of each and every year, you choose one word to bring together all your hopes, dreams, desires, and goals for the year ahead. One word to highlight all you want to accomplish, and all you plan to focus your energy on. One word that coalesces a potentially long list of goals into that one idea that matters most.
As a small business owner, you might choose to have one word that works for both your personal and professional life, or you might choose to have two different words – one for your personal life and one for your small business. Either way the process is the same. Here’s how to go about setting a one-word resolution to help guide your year.
- First, brainstorm a list of potential words that you think mean something to you and the season that your business is in. Think of words that can guide, motivate, and direct. Verbs, nouns, and even proper nouns can work. Team. Productivity. The name of a department or employee who holds the key to this year’s success, perhaps. Or the name of the one account you need to double down on throughout 2017. Don’t edit yourself throughout the brainstorming process. Instead, allow yourself to think deep and wide and allow any and all potential words to bubble to the surface. Write these words down as you go.
- Next, start to narrow down your list of potential one-word resolutions to a few possibilities. Think concretely about what works best for what you want to accomplish, and think broadly about a word that really motivates you to reach this aim. In the process, you’ll find that words that ring of positivity often sing better than their counterparts.
- Try on one word for size. Roll it around on your tongue and commit to it for a week. If it’s still good a week in, it’s your word for the year – your one resolution that matters more than anything else. Write it down in big, bold letters. Hang it on your desk. Tell your team. Make it the mantra of your year.
- As you move forward throughout 2017, remember your one-word resolution. When your small business faces a big decision, remember your word. When your small business faces a crossroads and a need to choose between A and B, remember your word. When your team faces a challenge they aren’t sure how to overcome, remind them of your word.
The first year I did this, I needed it more than ever. I was in a season of non-stop busy, and realizing that I needed to make a dramatic change, I set a big goal by using one powerful word: REST. With this word, I aimed to remember to prioritize the power of taking a back seat when I needed it in work and life. Throughout the year, I was confronted with choices – both big and small. And each and every time I wasn’t sure what to decide, or wasn’t clear on what path to take, I remembered my word. At times, this was a hard process. I wanted to go to that client dinner, say, but I knew that doing so would jeopardize my energy for my big speech in the morning. Having one word to guide me made all the difference. Slowly, but surely, it became easier and easier as the year went on, and I became more and more convinced of the importance of the practice.
Ultimately, this practice of setting a one-word resolution is a simple exercise that can create powerful results. That said, like most things that are good for us but that we put off in the crazy busy of life as we know it, it does require an investment. A small amount of time – an hour, say – and a dedicated amount of focused energy on the task at hand, away from the hustle and bustle of normal life. Find the time and space to do this activity, and your year will thank you.