Choose a word, change your year

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Now that we’re a week into January, the holidays are behind us and a big, promising new year is stretched out ahead. Lots of women I speak to find themselves asking how they can make this the great year they yearn for. 

Rather than make some quick resolutions — that even with great intentions are hard to sustain — they wonder what they can do to make this their best year ever. They ask what key actions they can take that will have impact. They wonder how to get started. And they are concerned about how can they sustain momentum.

If you relate — if you want to be more aware and awake in your life so you stop drifting and start making the changes you want — try these suggestions:

1. Choose a word of the year to guide you

It may sound simple, but when you take the time to thoughtfully choose a word to guide you for the year ahead, amazing things happen.

Last year I wrote about my process for choosing a word that embodies layers of meaning and really nails it for where you are in your life right now. I offer instructions that you can easily follow, as well as examples to inspire you. Here's how you can pick your powerful word for this year.

2. Stop looking for quick fixes

We all wish there were magical ways to make change fast. And we all know that in order to make important changes — and for them to stick — time and commitment are required. When you acknowledge and accept that the changes you want to realize — everything from weight loss or better health, to a more harmonious relationship, to a less chaotic pace of living, to having more satisfaction at work — will take time and focus to shift, you will be able to take the small, deliberate, consistent steps each day that will add up to big change over time.

3. Start saying “no” 

When you have a clear word for your year and you are ready to take small, consistent action in your life to live guided by your word, you will quickly realize that you must do less to be able to bring attention and focus to what really matters. 

This one is tough for many women who consider themselves accomplished multitaskers, get excited about new ideas all the time, and/or recognize that they tend to be people-pleasers. 

The truth is that we all have limited time and limited energy. This is the perfect time to start saying “no” to things that spread you too thin or are not in alignment with your priorities. This may feel uncomfortable, but you do not need to apologize when you say “no.” You can simply say that you have other commitments and thus are not able to help with...  do...  take on...  etc. Give it a try. With practice you can get comfortable with it, and you'll find that saying “no” will open important space for you to focus on what matters most.

4. Remind yourself of how capable you are

When doubt shows up, look back at last year and notice the times that you tried something new, were able to find courage when you needed it, or handled a challenge. Acknowledge things you learned and impact you made. All of these reminders will bolster your confidence when you need it.

5. Take consistent action

Having selected a word of the year to guide you, and preparing yourself for the time and patience needed to make meaningful change, then opening space in your life by saying “no,” and bolstering your confidence for stepping up in new ways, you will be ready for the last key step — making a commitment to take consistent action

Taking action and sustaining the commitment to continue to do so — even when you hit places of feeling discouraged or sagging motivation or lack of confidence — is the biggest challenge. It’s easy to get fired up at the start of the year. (Think about the crowds at yoga classes and gyms in January and February that thin out by March!)

The beauty of selecting a word of the year that embodies what you want for yourself this year is that you can more easily stay committed to living into it — even at the times you struggle. After all, that’s the meaning of commitment!

Are you ready to make that kind of commitment to yourself?

If you are, you will be able to look back at this current year a year from now and smile at what you created in your life!

Remember that getting support will make it easier for you to stay committed to the change you want to make, the growth you desire. Ask someone to be an accountability buddy. Attend workshops that will enlighten and inspire you. Join a group coaching program or reach out for one-on-one coaching support. 

I would love to hear the Word of the Year that you choose.

I am eager to hear about how you have selected a guiding word. Share your word in the comments below, or email me to let me know. And let me know why you chose it, and how you are stepping into making this the year that you are envisioning today.

My word for this year?

This year I chose DEPTH.

I intend to go deeper in my work with clients, my writing, and my painting. This demands that I get more support in my business, that I say “no” more often, and that I remain mindful of my intentions and honor them. I have already begun living into my word and it feels great!

I wish you a big new year — one of growth, commitment, accomplishment and joy.


If you’re looking for another way to change your year, you can consider having a coach to support you to get clear about the life and work questions on your mind — to live the big life you long for — so that you can set clear objectives and get help to step into your future with intention and commitment. If that’s something you want to explore, I welcome you to set up an Introductory Coaching Call with me. There’s no cost or obligation for us to meet. Simply complete the Coaching Inquiry Form and I’ll be in touch to make a date with you.

Six months in, six to go!

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July has arrived, and with it the realization that this year has hit the mid-point. This is a perfect time to pause and think about where you are as you head into the second half of the year.

Here are some ways you can take stock:

1. Check in with your word-of-the-year — or choose one now

If, way back in January, you chose a word to guide your year, this is a great time to revisit the word you selected and reflect on how you've been using it to inspire and guide you the last 6 months — or how you want to reconnect to the word you chose and have it inspire you now.

And, if you did not choose a word for yourself, but want to know how you can choose one to guide you in the final half of the year, check out my blog post about how to approach this wonderful practice.

2. Revisit the plans you made, the dreams you dreamed, the goals you set

Many people make big plans, dream, or set ambitious goals for themselves as the year begins. If you were moved to do something like that, now’s the perfect time to think about what’s happened to those ambitions.

If you have let things slip, this is the time to reconnect with them, review your progress to date, and decide if you are still feeling the same motivation. Maybe something has shifted in an important way and you will see different or more beneficial opportunities. Maybe you will have an idea for a simpler or better way to approach a goal that you struggled with.

Maybe your assessment will show that you are ahead of where you expected. If that’s the case, now is the time to decide if you want to expand on the goal, if the pace has been working or if you’ve pushed harder than you’ve liked, or if you want to celebrate the completion and embark on a small additional goal for the last six months of the year.

And, consider what lessons have you learned — lessons that you can build on now, or that will shine a light on modifications that will make it easier to proceed.

3. Commit to the actions you need to take now

Having great intentions does not ensure progress or success. Commitment is needed! And true commitment requires you to make specific plans and follow through.

Now is the time to start listing what it will take to accomplish your objectives. This is a good project to do when you have some quiet time (maybe on a beach?) to sit, think, and get real about all the steps that will make your wish a reality. Then, with a detailed list in hand, it’s time to schedule each step in your calendar. Be realistic as you do this. Consider the time each task is likely to take. Work around vacations, major family events, conferences you’ll be traveling to, etc. The more carefully you schedule the tasks, the more likely you’ll be to stick with your plan and make satisfying progress.

And, look for someone who can help you stay on track. Who do you know that wants to be intentional in the second half of the year and might be a good Accountability Partner? This is a great way for you to support one another — and to celebrate your successes, too!

And, you can consider having a coach to support you to get clear about the life and work questions on your mind — to live the big life you long for — so that you can set clear objectives and get help to step into your future with intention and commitment. If that’s something you want to explore, I welcome you to set up an Introductory Coaching Call with me. There’s no cost or obligation for us to meet. Simply complete the Coaching Inquiry Form and I’ll be in touch to make a date with you.

How a simple word can change your year

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A new year is underway! The new year arrived in New England with unusually frigid temperatures and a blizzard is underway as I write. I am grateful to be warm and dry, that our power is on, and that my family is together. I see this as a fine start to what I know will be a big year.

But, big years do not happen magically. When we drift through life without intention, as so many people do, we are unfocused and usually scattered. 

So, how can you make this year a big one? Some of us think we need to make resolutions, but you have probably read all sorts of articles about why resolutions fail — and I agree that New Year resolutions are far from the best way to make positive change in your life.

Here's what I recommend instead. Choose a word of the year.

Begin by reflecting, with clear eyes, on your life in the previous year. By getting clear, you can more easily envision what you want in the year ahead. Maybe you want more quiet in your life. Maybe you want to stretch into being bolder this year. Maybe you are ready to release old habits. Why not start now and choose 3 to 5 concepts that feel most important for this year of your life?

After you have your short list, you may see that some of the concepts are related, and you can feel which seem most on target. Getting to clarity will be the key for you to set intentions — intentions that will ignite the energy that will support you to consciously create the year you want. 

I have been focusing on my intentions and choosing a word to guide my year for several years now. And, I help my clients to do that, too. The idea is to zero in on a word that will help me stay on track as my year unfolds.

Two years ago I chose the word SAVOR as my word of the year. I knew I wanted (and needed!) to slow down, but "slow down" was not quite it. I yearned to make time to truly connect to all there was to appreciate and hold those things in my heart. SAVOR was a rich word that entailed slowing down as well as bringing a focus on gratitude. And, it meant that all of that goodness would not be forgotten. SAVOR was a great word for me, and guided that year in wonderful ways.

At the start of last year, I chose the word VIBRANT. I had been recovering from surgery and was focused on restoring robust health. But, I applied the word VIBRANT to many other aspects of my life and how I wanted to be. It entailed a stretch for me. The sign I posted in my office and looked at every day said:

VIBRANT   health  |  energy  |  creativity  |  thinking  |  service  |  action

I was motivated throughout the year to be true to my intentions for vibrancy in all of those aspects of my life. 

I invite you to join me as I focus on choosing my word for the coming year.
Here’s a brief set of steps you can follow.

Start by answering these questions:
What am I no longer willing to tolerate? 
What activities do I want to START doing this year?
What do I want to STOP doing this year?
What do I want to KEEP doing this year?
At the end of the year, what has to have happened in order for me to call the year my BEST YEAR EVER?

Next, go back to your list of up to 5 concepts you wrote down that felt most important for this year of your life. Do your answers to the questions above give you any new insights or ideas for things to swap out? (Maybe words like Presence, Friendship, Power, Risk, Freedom, Action, Openness, Love, Change, Happiness, or Trust might feel like they belong on your list. Let your intuition guide you here.) Do you see some words that feel squarely on target?

Now, narrow your list to one or two words. (I know it may be hard, but this is the time to get focused!) Write down why each word is a great choice. Consider what would be different for you every day if you chose it. Write out a short list of actual things you could create or bring into your life if you chose it. Then write down what you would cultivate as habits (or bring more focus to, if the habits are already in place) to embody the word.

Look again, and see if the right word shines clearly for you. Or, think a bit more and hone in on the word that captures what you want.

With your WORD OF THE YEAR selected, here are your next steps:

In addition to printing out and posting your word, also share it. And, ask for encouragement when you need it. It’s great to ask someone to be your partner and supporter. And, of course, commit to taking ongoing action based on your word.

So, this is my moment to share my word for 2018: LEAD

I intend to be a leader in my life, to be all that I can be in each moment. I intend to show up more and shine brightly. I intend to passionately lead my clients to create the futures they want. I intend to paint with the energy and passion of a leader, and not limit myself. 

What will it take for me to LEAD in these ways? I commit to not shrinking back, even when I move into territory that’s new for me. I intend to focus on what matters most, and commit to those things with a whole heart. I commit to taking good care of myself so that I have the energy to see my vision through, all year long.

I invite you to share the word of the year that you choose, and tell me why you chose it. Leave a comment below, or send me an email to let me know. (Bonus points for adding what it will take for you to live your word of the year.)

I wish you a momentous year filled with growth, wisdom, happiness, and all that you desire. 

My vision for a big new year

The year is off and running! In just the first couple of weeks, I’m experiencing a lot of positive energy and feeling that this will be a momentous year.

Yes — I, like many others, feel great uncertainty and deep concern about the direction our nation’s new administration is taking now and where it will go. But, I feel determined to make my voice heard, to take constructive action, and to do my important work. I want to be a force to support and inspire people to stand strong, to think creatively, and to be effective leaders in their lives and work. The collective, bold, creative thinking and action that we bring to our lives and our society are crucial now. If we succumb to fear and anxiety we will fail to think, and fail to act.

Here’s how I am moving forward:

1. I chose an important word to guide my year.

As many of my readers know, I am a big believer in choosing a guiding word for each year. Last year, I chose SAVOR. It guided me to slow down and appreciate everything — big and small — in my life, and it served me well. It helped me to create new awareness and habits, and enhanced my daily happiness. The gratitude I cultivated was a great balance to the stresses that came along.

My word for this year is VIBRANT — vibrant health, energy, creativity, thinking, service, and action. I am already feeling the power of this amazing word in my daily life!

2. I am already celebrating achievements.

I am celebrating good self-care, and that I am feeling stronger and healthier than I have in a long time. I am celebrating that I have cleared my office of accumulated clutter, and have updated my systems so that I can keep my work space organized and functioning smoothly. I am celebrating that I have started to work with a terrific virtual assistant, and I look forward to how that help will free me to do more of the important projects I have planned.

3. I am finding inspiration and creating in exciting ways.

I visited the Museum of Fine Arts last week to see great work on exhibit before it leaves the museum. Standouts, in addition to William Merritt Chase, were The Clock, Terry Winter’s prints, and the Massed Media show. I will continue to visit museums and galleries regularly. And, in anticipation of the start of a painting course that I’m registered for at Tufts/School of the Museum of Fine Arts, I have been painting in my studio. I am also finding the vision board I made in late 2016 to be an inspiration for the things I most want to manifest in my life now. Seeing it every morning keeps me taking action toward what I want most. All of these are sparking my thinking and awakening my heart every day.

And, connecting everything for me, love will continue to be my driving force, alongside creativity — in this year and every year. As I wrote in my email at the end of 2016, I ask myself every day if I am I serving myself, my family, my clients, my community and the world with a full heart. I am determined to model love and tolerance as I move through 2017.


How is your year starting? Have you chosen a guiding word for yourself? Do you find yourself struggling or feeling stuck? Let me know how you are feeling and doing as you look ahead to this new year. I would love to hear your thoughts.