Hands in shape of heart

I always share my word of the year (sharing is great for accountability!) but this year I felt more awkward than usual in doing so. It’s a word that we don’t frequently use in the world of work.

My past words of the year felt safer to announce and talk about. Words like grateful, listen, release, enough, abundance.

For 2021, I had originally been thinking about a word like opportunity, since I want to be the type of person that is open and recognizes opportunities in all their many forms. But on reflection, that word felt too small and me-focused. It wasn’t the right word for my year. Then, I changed the question from “Where do I want to go?” to “What is needed most right now?”

As I thought about that question and the year we all just lived through together but apart, only one word came to me.


Love is what is needed most in my family, my work, and my world right now. It’s not that I don’t need or want opportunity, but I believe I’ll be able to create different and better opportunities through love. And one month in, I’ve already seen and felt a difference this year.

Love changes the way I respond to people. Love changes the way I show up for my clients. Love changes the way I assess what’s going on in the world, but more importantly, love forces me to take action to change what I can’t accept.

This is why I love (see what I did there?) choosing a word of the year! It permeates everything I do, both in ways that I expect and in ways I could never have imagined. Having a word of the year creates an intense focus and a growth that has been transformational for me over the past 6 years. There are many advocates of having a word of the year and you can’t really go wrong. If you’re curious, I started with Jon Gordon’s approach. 

#PositiveAction If you haven’t already, it’s not too late to choose a word of the year. You’ll be amazed at the giant transformation that can happen through one word!


Image by Photo Mix from Pixabay

Once upon a time, I had the worst year of my entire life professionally and personally. That story is too long for today, but suffice it to say that I came to the conclusion that almost nothing was working for me in the way I was approaching my life. 

Whoa! That’s kind of a big, complex problem, huh? 

It’s definitely not the sort of thing you can fix in a single day (or even a single year, but I made, and continue to make, progress!). What’s the solution? I had to get Targeted in my action. I couldn’t fix everything all at once. I needed to focus on the most important thing.

Here’s a simple example. One of my favorite things to do for the new year… *drumroll please!* …is to clean out my closets! I know, I know. It’s a wild and crazy life I lead. Here’s the thing: It gives me a chance to clean spaces that don’t get cleaned very frequently, but more importantly, I can assess the stuff I own and ask questions about it. Does this fit AND flatter? Or Does this align with the current life I lead? Or Have I used this enough to warrant expending my time and space to keep it here? I’m sure this process is starting to sound a lot more fun now!!!

My inner Clutter Conqueror would love to go through the entire house like that. Asking questions, cleaning out all the rooms from top to bottom and ending with a space that even Marie Kondo would be jealous of. But my real life doesn’t afford me the time or energy to do all that. Not to mention the fact that with a family of four, this zen-like space I’m imagining would be back to a mess in 5 minutes flat. 

One choice I could make is to say, “Well, it’s pointless. I might as well do nothing.” Another choice I can (and do!) make is to say, “What is a Targeted approach where I could achieve that aspiration on a smaller scale?” This was how my tradition for cleaning out my closets for the new year was born! 

I focus my attention on one area, knowing that there are lots of other things that could use my attention, energy, and effort too. But I prioritize this activity because of several reasons. 

First, it’s small, which means I can accomplish it in a short amount of time. I love to see progress quickly! Next, it helps me let go of all that other stuff I could/should/wish I had time to work on. Freedom from guilt! Finally, as a recovering perfectionist, it gives me great joy to have a few small spaces of order in the chaos that is my daily life. If you’ve never spent a minute or two gazing upon a well-organized space, you absolutely must try it! Talk about relaxation!! 

Hang on, I think I’m getting slightly off topic. I must be more Targeted!

As I’ve mentioned, resolutions aren’t for me. I love change! I just happen to take a different approach to getting there. One of those different approaches is to select a word of the year. 

I’ve been doing a word of the year for five years now. My previous words include: Grateful, Listen, Release, and Enough 

If you are looking to go deeper on a word of the year, I got the idea from Jon Gordon, but there are lots of others who advocate this approach as well.

What I love about a word of the year is it’s Targeted. It gives me an opportunity to keep my focus on one thing for the entire year. I thought it would be hard to spend a year with a single word, but I have been pleasantly surprised every year by how the word continues to take on new, different, bigger meaning in my life. The fact that it’s Targeted is what makes it so effective.

When you’re thinking about taking positive action, you want your action to be targeted. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you think of all the things you’d like to change or do or be. By making a choice to focus your time, energy, and attention on one thing, it becomes possible to make incredible progress!

#PositiveAction Identify the one thing that is most important for you this year. The Targeted attention will be transformational!

Targeted is the third element of ACTION, part of a series focused on positive action. If you’re new here, welcome! You may want to start at the very beginning with positive action




Image from Pixabay

thank you note

As I’ve mentioned previously, I have had a word of the year for the past several years. One year, it was the word grateful. As is often the case (or always, so far in my limited experience!), the word starts the year out with one intent, but finishes the year different and more robust than I can imagine.

As one of the ways to steep myself in gratitude, I found the book, Living in Gratitude by Angeles Arrien which is a delightful month-by-month guide to exploring gratitude. The book has interesting tidbits from all sorts of history and traditions along with the seasons and what is happening in nature each month of the year. 

It helped to open my eyes not just to the obvious things I have to be grateful for (food, clothing, shelter, family, friends, etc.) but also connected me to the tradition of gratitude across time and cultures. It made my feeling of gratitude much more expansive as a result.

Gratitude can be especially powerful if you’re not completely happy with your current work situation, regardless of whether it’s the specific job, team, or company. Focusing on the things you’re grateful for at work can infuse you with some much needed joy and energy to forge ahead with your less enjoyable tasks. 

It can be as simple as remembering the special bond you have with one person at work. You know, the one person you tell everything! You’re lucky to have someone like that. Maybe it’s the great food in the cafeteria. More likely, it’s the fact that your company is located nearby to that amazing Mexican food place! It could be that you get to dress however you want. Or maybe the supply closet always has a stash of your favorite type of pen. These sound silly, but appreciating the little things truly makes bad days better and good days great.

If you’re located in the U.S., this is the week that we celebrate Thanksgiving. Some people prefer to breeze through Thanksgiving on their way to Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Giving Tuesday. Instead, I would encourage you to pause and reflect and savor a few of those things that fill you with gratitude. 

As for me, I’ll be spending the week expressing gratitude and sending notes to people letting them know what I appreciate about them. 

#PositiveAction Write a list of 5 things you’re grateful for at work. Bonus points for telling someone else what you appreciate in them!



Image by June Laves from Pixabay

Should I start out this mid-summer post by saying something to the effect of “Can you believe we’re already halfway through 2019?” Or does it feel like it’s already been exactly 212 days since the start of the year? Some years feel slower and more challenging than others, but the fact of the matter is, time flies, whether we’re having fun or not. 

So instead of time, let’s talk about progress (and if you like progress, you’ll enjoy this post on progress vs. perfection). 

With the exception of leap years, we each get 365 days to make progress on those things that are important to us. Being that we’re halfway through the year, how’s your progress been?

For me, I made the switch a few years back to focus on a word of the year, rather than on a list of goals. It’s been transformational, in that the word tends to infuse itself into every aspect of my life, even though I had originally intended it for improvement in a specific area.

My word for 2019 is enough. It started out as more of a clutter free / minimalist / simple living sort of mantra to start asking the intentional question of do I have enough of x? It’s funny sometimes how a simple question can spark profound change. It quickly morphed from do I have enough plates, shirts, or books to an inquiry around enough of everything. Am I spending enough meaningful time with my family? Do I have enough work? Am I contributing enough to my community?  My word of the year is a lens that I can filter all my decisions through to decide where and how to best focus my energy and time.

So am I making progress this year? Yes. Is it noticeable? Yes. Am I improving in dimensions that are important to me? Yes! Is it a goal tied to a specific metric that has a color on a dashboard? No.

And I’m ok with that. I’ve had enough (see what I did there?) experience hitting specific targets and delivering results. As is often the case in work and in life, numbers don’t tell the whole story. 

When it comes to your career journey, only you can decide how you feel about your current role and when it’s time for a change. Maybe you know where you’re headed, but aren’t there yet, sort of like that hot air balloon picture above. That’s fine, as long as you’re making progress. Today’s a great time to take a look at your progress and see if you need to adjust for the rest of the year. I promise you’ll be reading articles starting with “Can you believe it’s the end of the year already?” before you know it!

Note: There are several folks who advocate for a word of the year (or even a life word if you want take the long view!). Check out Jon Gordon, Evan Carmichael, or this article from Inc if you want to dig a little deeper.