In a world of resolutions, there's a quiet revolution – the practice of choosing a focus word for the year. Sure, you can do this individually, but I am seeing a lot of businesses embrace this practice of late. It is truly powerful. I’ve been choosing a word for myself to lean into both personally and professionally for nearly 20 years, and it is transformative.
Choosing one word to be the focus of our actions is much more than a mere mantra, it becomes a guiding principle that holds immense power, especially in the realm of business. I am a firm believer in having a small group of 3-4 focused value words for a business. Choosing an annual, one-word focus does not replace this practice. Instead, I believe it deepens what those values mean, and amplifies their purpose and impact each year.
How It Works
Every year choose a focus word for the entire year, then let it be your guiding light. I use the same word in my personal and professional life equally. I began this practice during a very challenging and turbulent time in my agency, and choosing a word was extremely grounding for me. It helped me stay focused and calmer, rather than reacting to every little crisis (well, candidly, some of the crises were pretty big at the time!) and to keep from losing sight of what principles were most important to keep moving forward.
Today I don’t really choose my word; my word chooses me. It does so based on patterns, situations and challenges I am facing that need a little extra energy from me. And this year I was startled that the word was inescapably 'sacred.'
After my initial resistance, I actually got excited. This was going to be different than other years. Sacred is rarely used in the same sentence with our business, but it reflects a commitment to infuse every facet of my business with purpose and mindfulness.
It means making decisions that align with deep values, fostering genuine connections within my partner and client community, with deep integrity and understanding.
It reminds me that clients aren't transactions; they're sacred connections, deserving authentic, vulnerable communication.
Work-life balance isn't just a buzzword—it's a commitment to my well-being—the lifeblood of my business.
This isn't just business income I'm driving here. It's a sacred journey of positive impact. Transparency, gratitude, sustainability—these aren't optional, they're foundational.
Why One Word?
Resolutions can be overwhelming, often forgotten by February. A single word, however, is a beacon, a constant reminder of your aspirations and intentions. It condenses your vision into a powerful, easily digestible concept. Is this an expression of sacred, or isn’t it? If it doesn’t appear to be, is there some hidden sacredness to be extracted from it? Let’s play!
A Guiding Star in Business
In the corporate hustle, this focus word becomes your guiding star. Whether it's "innovation," “collaboration,” “sustainability,” or “sacred,” it sets the tone for the next set of decisions and actions. It transforms abstract goals into a tangible, daily practice.
Aligning Personal and Professional Growth
Your chosen word reflects not just professional aspirations but your holistic self. Whether you're an entrepreneur or part of a team, the focus word becomes a bridge between personal development and business success.
Cultivating Company Culture
For businesses, this practice extends beyond individuals. When a team collectively embraces a focus word, it becomes the heartbeat of the company culture. Every decision, every innovation, and every interaction resonates with the chosen essence.
Adaptability and Resilience
In a rapidly evolving business landscape, a focus word fosters adaptability. It brings us into a deep intentionality and awareness, which is not present in rigid rule-following, hasty and biased actions, or reactionary responses. It encourages resilience, the essential quality of growth mindset and emotional intelligence, in the face of challenges, providing a consistent anchor amid uncertainty.
Creating Meaningful Impact
Looking to grow your business, increasing your earnings and profit substantially this year? Want to stand out and be visible? Become a thought leader? Work with greater clarity and ease? Well, pick a word that looks more at your behaviors and intentions within yourself and then your business. More than a trend, this practice shapes businesses with purpose—from the inside out, rather than the reverse. It's about creating a positive impact—on individuals, communities, and the world—rather than trying to extract meaning and positive impact from the world.
A Word About My Word: Sacred
By choosing "sacred" as my word for the year I claimed a profound and intentional approach to all my experiences and interactions. I realized that applying the concept of sacredness to business can be a transformative and meaningful endeavor. Here are some perspectives on how the idea of sacredness can be woven into the fabric of business:
Approaching business endeavors with a deep sense of purpose is, in fact, sacred work. When I clarify and articulate my mission and values, they can align with my personal and spiritual beliefs. In fact, I propose that they must align, or I will struggle with greater conflict and distractions as a result.
Sacred action demands that I embrace mindfulness in all my business decisions. I get to take the time to reflect on the consequences of my choices, not just in terms of profits but also in terms of the impact on people and alignment with my purpose and my passions. Cultivating a practice of thoughtful decision-making ensures I consider the long-term effects and implications of my actions.
Connection and Collaboration
I believe everything and everyone is connected. Sacred asks me to foster a sense of connection within my partner and client communities. When I recognize the humanity in each individual, I am able to value their unique contributions and perspectives, even if they are not a great fit for me at the moment. In fact, it is easier for me to see when it works for me and when it doesn’t if I am seeking out the connectedness intentionally.
Encourage a balance between work and personal life. Recognize that employees are whole individuals with diverse needs, and support their well-being both inside and outside the workplace.
Gratitude and Celebration
Gratitude is a sacred act. It can be too easy to overlook our wins as we plough forward to the next accomplishment or goal (cult of busyness and achievement, anyone?) Cultivate a culture of gratitude by acknowledging and celebrating successes, big and small. This fosters a positive, engaged and motivating atmosphere within the business. (PS: Doing it just for yourself, all you solopreneurs out there, is pretty powerful as well.)
Continuous Learning and Growth
There is always more to learn, new ways we can grow, and greater empowerment to embrace. All of those are part of our sacred journey as individuals on this planet. If we happen to be in business, then it applies there as well. Sacred as a focus invites me to approach challenges and setbacks as opportunities for growth.
By infusing the concept of "sacred" into my business practices, I’m not only creating a more meaningful and fulfilling work experience for myself, but also contributing to a positive impact on the broader community and the world.
Now it’s your turn. What’s your word for 2024?