I have always been stuck in the middle. I’m a middle child, and I tend to use phrases like “better safe than sorry” and “moderation in everything.” But I also do crazy things like decide to get a job 5 states away in Yellowstone Park during college or start a blog when I’m technically challenged. Creating goals and a plan is something I enjoy doing. But too much of a detailed plan makes me feel squirrelly. See? I’m stuck somewhere in the middle. That is why I love the concept of creating a focus word for the year. When you develop a focus word or phrase it allows you to have a target goal for yourself through which every decision in the new year is filtered. The bullseye remains consistent, but the plan on how to stay true to your overarching goal can be a little more fluid. Intrigued?
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Creating a Focus Word
As I have mentioned before (read here), at the beginning of this year I wasn’t very focused on the thought of accomplishing anything huge. All my energy went toward trying to keep going and not crumble up into a ball in the corner and give up. So I’m not sure I truly developed my focus or theme as much as it grabbed me: Move Forward! This year, was all about moving forward for me.
After several failed attempts, at the turn of the new year, to push myself physically to jump right back into life, I knew I had to release the idea of setting a certain pace. My mind and body was exhausted from a 3rd heart attack, 2 more heart catherizations, anemia and low hemoglobin levels and the trauma of finding myself unable to trust my body again. Life boiled down to the idea of just Move Forward.
So I decided to keep moving forward and Move Forward I did!! And you know what? I accomplished a lot with that key phrase in mind.
I kept doing things to take care of myself physically, like Yoga lessons and trying out new dessert recipes without sugar. The Reluctant Cowgirl blog was also born. And while I had some days of deep discouragement frustrated with my lack of tech savvy, I kept moving (with some helps of friends and family:).
Whenever my speed or lack thereof was disheartening, I would remind myself that my journey was to Move Forward.
How to Create a Focus Word for the New Year
So now that you understand how creating a focus word or phrase can help you take action on your goals, let’s develop a theme for YOUR year.
Look Back at Last Year to Create a Guiding Word
OK, for those of you who have been reading The Reluctant Cowgirl for awhile, you know that I’m all about processing where we have been. Take a minute and think about last year.
Play the highlight reel in your mind and think about the things you accomplished, the disappointments, the things you are thankful for and the moments you survived.
What stands out in your mind about this past year? Are there goals you conquered, that you want to carry with you into the new year? Did you have any light bulb moments that you want to put into action in the new year? Any relationships that you desire to grow or restore? Do you have any habits that you struggled with this past year that you want to replace with a better habit?
Use what you learned last year to make this year even better. Sometimes we learn from our successes and they propel us forward.
Often we learn from crushing failures and disappointments. Examine your failures for a minute. Were your failures a mess you created heading the wrong direction? Or were your failures simply all part of the learning curve on the way to success? Use this knowledge as you are creating a focus word for the year.
Examine Your Current Focus to Personalize Your Word for the Year
Next, think about the themes that keep popping up in your life lately. What do people keep bringing up with you? When you turn on the radio or pick up a magazine, do you notice a topic standing out in your mind. What books or podcasts or shows are you drawn to recently?
Sometimes we have all the information in front of us, we just need to be intentional about saying, “This is my focus this year.”
2015 for our family was all about Enduring! We chose to sell our home and buy a major fixer-upper. Country Boy and I were on the same page that remodeling our new home was the major task for the year. And about 6 weeks in to the rehab, we knew that was ALL our family could focus on (since we were personally doing a lot of the work) if we were going to make it to the end. Enduring the remodel was the longest, most exhausting task I had personally set my mind to completing. Without complete focus on the task and Enduring we wouldn’t have finished.
Decide Your Key Values in Creating a Word of the Year Focus
Another approach is to think about what is of most importance to you.
What is it that you value? How would you want someone to describe you?
One year, I actually looked up words trying to narrow down my focus keyword. Honor is very important to me. I try to honor my commitments. I love the idea of the honor upheld in the military. And I desire to honor my family and God by living as authentically as possible. So I chose the word Steadfast. I want to be Steadfast to the end and not give up on living up to my values. I continue to use that word as one of my life theme words.
Choose What You Need For Your One Word
What is your soul longing for right now? Are you wishing you could accomplish or provide something for yourself or your family? Is there anything you keep putting off?
One December, years ago, I realized that I had spent the last few years saying “no” to myself a lot when it came to spending money on my own personal care. So for the following year I said Yes to Personal Care. Setting aside some money I chose to spend it on beauty and self-care products. There wasn’t extravagant spending by any means. But I made a decision to give myself permission to make appointments and times to take care of myself that year. I took the fun exercise class. I went and saw a dermatologist. It wasn’t my only goal for the year, but it felt nice to take time to give myself a little confidence boost.
Focus on What You Love to Do?
Anything you’ve been dying to learn? What would make next year simply fun or amazing for you? Is there a skill you feel like it would be smart, but kind of awesome to learn?
I love shows like I Shouldn’t be Alive or I Survived. Several years, I decided to learn a variety of skills in regards to becoming more self-sufficient. One year, I spent a lot of time focusing on canning and freezing food. Another year, I challenged myself to learn more about essential oils, herbs and home remedies for common illnesses.
For a general overview start with this short book ABC Herbal: A Simplified Guide to Natural health Care for Children. It gives you a great overview on how to work with the body to heal more naturally! Changed my outlook. And it saved me a lot of trips to the doctors for simple things.
I also put together a ton of true stories about survival. If you are intrigued you will love Survival Mom by Lisa Bedford. Survival Mom is so much fun to read as it is filled with interesting true stories as well as practical advice that all moms need to know! She gives you checklists and helps you set attainable goals toward becoming a survival savvy momma who isn’t going to panic if you lose power for several days! I have given her book to friends and family. She also has a website over at The Survival Mom.
Creating a Focus Word
Now, that you have asked yourself lots of questions, what stands out? What do you feel like would be a good direction for your year? As you read through the post did anything pop?
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For me, creating a focus word for a new year is a process. I ask myself these questions, and then I have to think about things for several days or weeks? I also examine my goals and see if there is a common thread weaving through all my ideas.
So as you wrap up this year and head into the next year, pause and think. Allow your focus word time to bubble up to the surface. Oh, and then you need to tell me all about it:)
You can comment below or reach me on Facebook or follow me on Instagram (@thereluctantcowgirl)!
Miranda, I wish we lived in the same city so we could have coffee! The idea of condensing your goals down to one focus word is perfect for me. It’s so easy to go down a rabbit hole when it comes to goal setting and this will really help me stay on track. Thanks, once again!
Awww…I would love to grab coffee with you!! I’m so glad you found this helpful! You are so right that it can be easy to get off track, especially as the year goes on and I keep trying to add more goals.
Heather Bee says
I’ve never thought of making a focus word or phrase into a theme for my year. I think appreciate is what I’m going to use for 2018. I tend to take much for granted and I know I’m never guaranteed anything. As always, thanks for making me think more deeply about being deliberate about life?
Appreciate seems like a very centering word! Love it! It makes me think of looking and be mindful of what is right in front of me. Can’t wait to see how this develops for you in 2018.
Bri Adams says
I love this idea but am having a hard time distilling this spinning wheel of a brain down to just a simple phrase. I will work on it and come up with something in the next week. I promise!! Thank you. This is such a great guideline for anyone.
It is hard to get it down to a word of short phrase. Sometimes it takes me several weeks before I finally settle. But I’m always glad I go through this exercise cause it helps me stay on track all year!
I think I’ve finally settled on flourish. I’ve spent so many years taking care of my family that I really don’t know who I am any more. I want to figure out who I am and the flourish!