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Choose Your Word to Kick Off 2017 in the Most Powerful Way

Every year John and I go through a process to prepare for the new year (and ask our team to do the same). It’s about what each of us want out of this year and what we're willing to do to make it happen. And we’re challenging you to do it too.

It’s about setting our intentions to become the best we can be in the year ahead. It requires we be brave enough to reflect on what’s working in our lives and what isn’t. To get really clear on what we want this year to mean for each of us and our place in the world.

As you may know, I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. Because they usually end up as a neglected list of failures and disappointments by mid-February. Instead of declaring resolutions, a few years ago I jumped on the One Word bandwagon, and I’m asking you to jump with me. Here’s the gist of it:

We each figure out the One Word that encapsulates our intention for the next year. What we hope to work on, experience, accomplish, give and receive. Once we figure out our One Word, from there can establish our priorities that serve that word, and then set our goals that serve our priorities. We’re not talking about a habit we’re trying to start or break, like many Resolutions. This is an intention, a focus from which everything else flows—our thinking, our actions, our day-to-day living.

My word for 2017 is JOY. I’ve achieved more career and financial success than I ever thought possible. I’m the mother to two extraordinary, hilarious creatures who, thank God, are healthy and thriving. I’m married to the Love of My Life, who still makes me think, dream and laugh. And I’ve got a tribe of devoted friends and colleagues who would do anything to help our family, as they know we would do for them.

Yet, too often I find myself rushing through my incredible life. Trying to be all things to all people and to keep up with all the noise coming at me a mile a minute. Getting upset by things that are inconsequential and out-of-my-control. By people who don’t get me or don’t like me. So I don’t feel the joy I want to. The joy that all humans deserve. I want more JOY, so that’s exactly what I’m going to create.

Now that you know my Word, it’s your turn. What’s the One Word that encapsulates your
intention for your life in the next year? What is it that your soul is telling you to focus on?

Once we’ve got this overarching intention, we can establish our priorities that serve our word. And once we have our priorities, we can set our goals, that serve those priorities. If you’ve gone through this One Word process with me before, you may have skipped this part, but I implore you to do the whole enchilada. A word representing your intentions is lovely, but if you don’t get clear on what your priorities are going to be in the coming year, and clear on your goals, then you’re merely saying a word. Like a coach telling his team to WIN, without sharing his plan for how it’s going to happen and taking them through the training. So stay with me here.

First, let’s get really clear on the difference between priorities and goals.

Priorities are what’s most important and meaningful in our lives today. The values, beliefs, lifestyle, principles, and standards. The things that we’re not willing to give up for anything. I like to think of them as the non-negotiables of our lives right now.

Goals are different. They’re a future-based end result or experience that we’re working towards creating and achieving. In other words, our goals are things that haven’t yet been realized.

Here’s what’s so important about their relationship. If our goals don’t support our priorities, we’ll feel off, scattered, stressed and unfulfilled. It’s because we’re not living our truth. Take the time to really soul search your priorities and then align your goals with them.

And I’m a big believer that at any one time we can only focus on so much. So, each year I set a maximum of three priorities and five goals, and I encourage you to do the same. Unless you’ve found that elusive pill that gives you more than 24 hours in a day and no need for sleep. As you figure out your top priorities that serve your Word, know that you may be putting some others on the back burner in exchange for the ones that are most important right now. And that’s ok.

So here’s a real-life example of how this works.

My word is JOY

I have two priorities in service of JOY this year:

  • To live in, as Tony Robbins says, A Beautiful State, which for me means to be excited, engaged, fulfilled and connected to myself and others.
  • To simplify, streamline and narrow my focus so I can have a bigger impact on those I serve—myself, our family, our team and our community.

I know myself well enough to know that I’m most joyful when I’m present and invested in my relationships—my marriage, our kids, our friends, our team and our community. And I can’t forget the most important relationship of all, the one with myself.  I know that by doing less, I will actually be able to accomplish more of what really matters to me.

These are the two things that are most important to me right now, and if I live my life every day with these as the focus, I will experience JOY.

So my goals for the year, personally and professionally, have to support my priorities. They are:

  • Find time every single day for stillness, which for me means meditation, prayer and learning.
  • Learn to reframe every negative occurrence, interaction and thought into a positive. (For example, instead of feeling the dread and weight of an obstacle, see it instead as an opportunity.)
  • Achieve the narrowly focused business goals of mentoring team members in the US, Canada and Australia to high levels of leadership and income, and achieve another year of 35% revenue growth.
  • Fund a literacy center with the proceeds from my book.

This recovering Type A overachiever could’ve listed a lot more goals, but I redlined the ones that wouldn’t serve my non-negotiable priorities. It’s exciting, and a bit of a relief, when you go through this entire process and see how doable it all seems when you get really clear about what you want.

Part of welcoming in a New Year with a new intention and new priorities may also require letting go. Think about how much of your days and weeks and months are spent on things and people who don’t jive with your priorities. People who don’t show up and do what they say they’re going to do, relationships that aren’t reciprocal—or even worse, toxic—and drama in all its forms. I encourage you to let those people go with love so you can focus on what your soul is calling you to do.

Over the last year, destructive and heart-breaking relationships I was a part of ended. And while it was deeply painful to mourn their death, I now see it was necessary for me to get to focus on my priorities. I’m no longer spending precious energy trying to please, or walking on eggshells, or defending my authentic self that’s different from what someone else expects, or shielding myself from unrelenting negativity. Which means I’ll have more energy to live in a Beautiful State and have a bigger impact on those who do get me and those I’m meant to serve.

I hope your letting go is far less painful and on your terms, but even if it’s not, it’s necessary to keep evolving into the person you’re destined to be. Just remember the “let go with love” part, because harboring bitterness and resentment hurts us just as much as staying active in those relationships.

I believe in giving credit where credit is due, so I must tell you the learning experiences that impacted me most over the last year that led to the self-discovery required to do my Word process this year. I hope it highlights for you the importance of consistent personal development, which really means being a life-long student of You. First, John and I were fortunate to attend a live Tony Robbins training, and even got to spend a few minutes with him. I’m still not able to adequately describe the tremendous impact those 4 hours had on me, but I have no doubt that the aftershocks will work their way into my writing, trainings, Facebook Live video thoughts and daily practices in the months to come. One thing I can say is that once he put a name on the way I want to experience life, I knew I wanted to learn more about how to achieve it.

Which led to more transformative learning when I listened to the audiobook of Present Over Perfect, read by the author Shauna Niequist. In her beautifully written collection of essays, she candidly explains the way she left behind her frantic, soul-killing life for one soaked in grace, simplicity, prayer and connection with the people who matter most. “Draw close to people who honor your no,” she writes, the “no” referring to the boundaries, limits and allocation of where our time is spent. Draw close to the people “who cheer you on for telling the truth, who value your growth more than they value their own needs getting met or their own pathologies celebrated.”

It might seem counter-intuitive—risky even—to kick off a new year in a community designed to help you have more, to talk about doing less. But I’m learning that to LiveFullOut doesn’t mean to do more. It means to live with more focus and intention, to work smarter, to say Yes to what serves us and No to what doesn’t. Which ultimately means we should be doing less of many things. And that’s what will help us live more.

So in addition to determining and declaring your Word, establishing your priorities and setting your goals, I have one more bit of homework for you as you kick off January. Figure out what needs to be on your “Stop Doing List”. In the business bible Good to Great, Jim Collins argues that this list is just as important, and for many of us—like me this year—more important than our “To Do List”. How do you determine what should be on that list? For a week, write down everything you do and how long you spend doing it. And I’m not kidding—everything. At work, at home and everywhere else. And then with a critical, objective eye, redline everything that isn’t essential to reach one of your goals that serves one of your priorities that supports your Word. (Now do you see why it’s imperative to go through the entire One Word exercise?)

I’ll bet money that some of the things that will end up on your “Stop Doing List” include getting trapped in the scroll hole of social media, cleaning your house when it makes more economic sense to pay someone else to do it and serving as fundraising chair for (insert school or nonprofit name here).

There was another transformative book that I read in November during a long weekend away with John. Largely unplugged with no kids around, I devoured The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Doug Abrams. I was so moved by these two Nobel Peace Prize Laureates who have survived more than 50 years of exile and the soul-crushing violence of oppression, yet are two of the most joyful people on the planet. I read the Dalai Lama’s words, “We create most of our suffering, so it should be logical that we also have the ability to create more joy. It simply depends on the attitudes, the perspectives and the reactions we bring to situations and to our relationships with other people.”

So I have a choice. We all have a choice. Every day. No matter how tired or taxed or distracted or overwhelmed we are. We have a choice how we think, what we let into our brains and onto our plates. We have the ability to live the way we want. And it may not happen overnight. Actually, it most certainly won’t. But thought by thought, choice by choice, we get to decide how we spend our precious time here. And if we don’t actively make those decisions, then we’re wasting this gift, and shame on us.

And there was yet another book that changed me this last year. Mine. In Get Over Your Damn Self I urge you, the reader, to do just that. But in order to write it, I had to get over a considerable amount of stuff myself. I had to lengthen my “Stop Doing List” to have the time and mental energy to produce it. I had to be willing to quiet the negative voices in my head that the book might not be any good and instead, tell myself a different story. That my words could possibly help someone else—even if it was just one person—which was far more important than my fear of judgment or coming up short. And I had to find enough stillness to block out all the noise around me—all the opinions, the criticism, the publishing experts—so that I could hear my voice. To ensure my book was an uncensored conversation with the reader as if I were talking to you across a table at a coffeehouse. Because we are our most powerful and most able to serve others when we’re putting our unadulterated, authentic selves into the world.

Is it a coincidence that my scariest project to date was actually getting me ready to move my entire life forward in 2017? I don’t think so. I think that’s how life works. I think that if we have the guts and grit to recognize where we need to grow and stretch, and then to actually do it, it leads us on a path. That we must have grace with ourselves to understand that it won’t be easy or effortless, that we’ll be scared, and sometimes we’ll take two steps back for every one forward. But as long as we keep moving forward closer to our truth, then we get to stay on that path. Our unique path.

What I keep learning—from Tony, and His Holiness, and the Archbishop and my amazing husband—is that a healthy perspective is the foundation for joy and happiness. Because how we see the world is how we experience the world.

I choose to see JOY. Everywhere. No matter what’s going on in the world, the White House or our house. And I know I’ll be experiencing a whole lot of joy because of the privilege of being a part of your lives. So thank you.

John will be sharing his Word soon, and Nate and Bebe once again chose theirs. Nate’s is YES. Yes to taking more risks in school and his extra-curriculars, to respecting his body more with less nail biting and more exercise and, thankfully, Yes to being more organized. Bebe’s Word is POWER. She learned over the last year that she has the Power to learn anything she puts her mind to, the Power to stand up to bullies and the Power to spread kindness to make the world a better place. So she wants to dedicate this year to coming more into her Power.

Now we can’t wait to hear what you choose for the coming year, so please share Your Word for 2017 with us below. And we hope that we can help you throughout the year to live it…FullOut!



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