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My Guiding Word for the Year: "Yes"

It’s never too late to set business, personal, and professional goals. While I am a believer in setting annual and even quarterly goals, I have found a different approach that guides my day-to-day actions throughout the year. This approach is less about the destination (the achievement of the annual goals), and more about the process taken to reach the destination. The process focuses on the intentional steps we take each day that shape how we see ourselves, how we show up to others, how we achieve and celebrate achievements, and how we learn from our experiences along the way. 


The Power of a Guiding Word

While I do set goals at the beginning of the year, I've adopted the tradition of choosing one guiding word each year. This one word serves as my beacon, my guiding light. It shapes the decisions I make, the opportunities I consider, and the approach I take to handling professional and personal challenges. For me, it has worked to ground me and ensure I focus on what matters most each and every day.

By way of example, in 2017, my word was "GOAL." Amid loss and triumph, honoring my father's legacy, I set, trained for, and achieved a challenging goal—a Spartan Sprint. I am not a runner and don’t consider myself an athlete per se, but I trained for 3 months to take on this 5-mile run with 20 obstacles, most of which I never imagined I could conquer. I enjoyed the process of training and executing the Spartan, a true accomplishment for me. I admittedly, still pride myself in setting, sticking to, and completing this unlikely goal.  


In 2018, "COURAGE" guided me as I left the corporate world after more than 25 years to start my own consulting practice. I was leaving a world I knew well - a visible and strategic role with a manager, team, and colleagues I loved working with. Although I would still be working in the field, I have always been so passionate about, I was certainly taking a risk shifting from an internal to external role. It took an enormous amount of courage, but it was great to find it within myself.


Last year, "SHAPE" was my word for the year. It represented my desire to re-shape my environment, marked by selling my home which served me and my family well for over 25 years in the town where I spent the first two decades of my life. I moved to a new community not far from my former home. However, it required me to take time to make my new house feel like a home. I’ve found new places to shop, dine, and drive, and it has all been very refreshing.

This year, I chose the word "YES." Inspired by a recent fitness and yoga retreat, I identified with our leader’s invitation to say "Yes" to new opportunities we haven’t before considered, even when they are disguised as challenges. It's a small word which carries with it great power and vast possibilities if we are willing to confront discomfort and uncertainty with open hearts and minds. Growth often lies just beyond our comfort zone. I recall my mother saying, “You only regret the things you don't do, not the things you do.” Similarly, aformer coach of mine often said, “Get comfortable with being uncomfortable.”

Whatever word resonates with you, I encourage you also to say “Yes”. Embrace unforeseen opportunities, take what may feel like a risk, and unlock your full and untapped potential and growth.

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