Saturday, December 31, 2016

choosing a word to guide your actions

(updated March 14, 2022) It's natural to want to see results for one's efforts. That's why many of us set goals with the start of each new year.

But, setting goals isn't the only way to have a meaningful or impactful year.

Choosing a Focus Phrase for 2017


How do you start a new year?

To keep things simple, I choose one word or phrase that I apply to family, personal growth, and business growth for a year. Today, I'm sharing how I find my word and how I keep it top of mind.

Focus Phrase for 2017 - Dare to be Remarkable

Since 2015, I have eschewed yearly resolutions and goals for words. The words or phrases I pick are meant to focus my actions.



There's no right or wrong way to find your word or phrase. And, there's nothing saying you can't try on a few until you find one that "feels right."

identify how you want to feel.

So often we think about what we want to do, not how we want to feel. We may set a goal of becoming a manager by the age of 30, but we don't think about what that means or why we desire it.

Different people may desire to be a manager by 30 for different feelings:

  • Secure
  • Comfortable
  • Confident
  • Satisfied
  • Mattered
  • Empowered

tie to your business or career plan.

Most people don't have a career path mapped out or a five-year plan for a business drafted. If you do, you'll want to include them when thinking about your word. For me, I have a five-year plan for my business. I wanted a simple touchstone to remind me of longer term goals and after looking at a variety of options, went with yearly words or phrases for motivation.

For 2015, I chose Bold for my word. Bold because I needed to take risks. To leap when I didn't have all the information.

For 2016, I chose Courage for my word. Courage because I needed to build on what I started in 2015. A reminder. When work got hard. When I wasn't sure which decision to make.

When you're starting a business or making a career change, words that empower you are helpful. Words can serve as a reminder that whatever is going on, whatever doubt has crept in, you've got this if you believe in yourself.

Dare to be Remarkable


For 2017, I wanted a word that was aspirational versus empowering. I felt I was over the hump--the hump of doubting I could, to knowing I could--and needed to clarify exactly what I wanted to do. So, I choose Remarkable.

According to The Free Dictionary, Remarkable means:

  • Worthy of notice or attention, noteworthy
  • Likely to be noticed especially as being uncommon
  • Extraordinary
  • Striking

And with Remarkable in mind is how I will be selecting projects and collaborations for the year.


Many of us forget the resolutions and goals we enthusiastically set each January. We don't do this intentionally; we get lost in the "busy"ness of life. In an attempt to prevent life from crowding out other thoughts, we may schedule checkins to track how we're doing against their goals. (But depending on how busy we've been these checkins may be just another guilt trip.)

Instead of status checkins, I'm doing something that's different. I'm committing to creating a collage a week diving into my word, 52 Weeks of Remarkable, #52WeeksOfRemarkable.

Curious how I'm going to find time to create a collage a week? Me too! I'm starting by time blocking twenty minutes once a week for 52 weeks. As my project unfolds, I'll share how dedicating twenty minutes a day is working. (While I almost filled an entire 3x5 journal, I only posted two of my collages to Instagram.)


Committing to a twenty minute weekly reflection may not work for everyone. It may even make choosing a word more stressful than simplying drafting a list of resolutions or goals.

Instead, frame your word or choose a quote that includes your word and post it somewhere you'll see it. I've had words near the kitchen sink that I could see as I washed dishes, in the laundry room, and in the bathroom. Then set a time limit.

Every time you see your word or quote, ponder it for the amount of time you decided on. If you don't know where to start, ask yourself a couple of the following questions:

  • How do I feel when I see or hear my word or quote?
  • Have my feelings changed since I chose my word or quote?
  • Does my word or quote still represent who I am or who I want to be?
  • How can I change the word or quote to better fit who I am or who I want to be?
  • What can I do today to achieve my word or quote?

Credits: All layouts designed by and images taken by Eden Hensley Silverstein for The Road to the Good Life.