Regulars and Shorts

Coach Jeannette: One word for a new year to remember

By Jeannette Maw

What quality or essence would you most like to bring to life for your 2010?
by Jeannette Maw

There’s something fresh and appealing about New Year energy; something that naturally infuses us with hope, possibility and empowerment.

National Public Radio reports that 40-50% of Americans participate in the annual ritual of making resolutions as a way to leverage this energy, even as they express regret about last year’s unmet goals.

It’s easy to see from a deliberate creation perspective how resolving to change something could trigger resistance. By identifying something that’s “wrong” or that we think “should” be different, or by relying on motivation (versus inspiration) to power through it, we introduce a negative charge that actually holds our success at bay.

The things we love doing and that inspire us from within don’t make the “resolution” list for the same reason that kissing your sweetie isn’t on the daily “to do” list. We don’t have to make ourselves do what we enjoy! Resolutions are often utilized for the things we think “should” change, or that we’ve had trouble accomplishing otherwise.

So this year you might try a totally different way to make use of the clean slate of 2010. See if this approach (adapted from an old Christine Kane blog post) appeals to you more than the setting of traditional resolutions:

Instead of weighing yourself down with a new rule or mandate for 2010, start by asking what you’d like the next year to be like.

What would you love to see happen in the new year?

What quality or experience was missing in 2009 that you’d love to bring to life during the next 12 months?

What would make 2010 your best year ever?

Wouldn’t it be nice if …? (fill in the blank.)

As you imagine what you’d like in the new year and conjure up your idea of a fabulous 2010, next see if you can identify the essence of what that is. For example, someone who experienced 2009 as stressful and worrisome might want to experience 2010 as easier and more relaxing. Someone feeling the effects of not taking care of themselves might choose to call in a strong spirit of self-care. Or someone who felt lonely and disconnected might want to feel the gift of connecting and supportive relationships.

Whatever it is you’d like to have, be or do in 2010, see if you can identify the feeling of that thing or experience. What’s the essence or quality of what you’re calling in?

Sum up that feeling-essence with one powerful word that will serve as your inspiration and orientation for your new year. This word will function as your guide and touchstone throughout the year, inspiring you from a deeper, core level than an externally motivated resolution might.

As you choose your word in accordance with what you’d love to see unfold over the next 12 months, you’re intentionally and deliberately creating your year in a less resistant and more easily embraceable way. It’s not something you’re forcing on yourself, but rather a gift you remember to give yourself throughout the year.

And if you find that you use this word up before the year is out, that’s your cue to choose a new one. (One of my mentor coaches used to ask me to choose a theme word for each month of our work together.) This is a powerful way to embrace a new way of “being” rather than focusing on the “having” or “doing” of life.

Here’s an example of what this process looked like for one person:

Thirty-six-year-old Jess was tired of being single and celibate. While he had career success, what he really missed was having a romantic partner—someone to share life with and to plan a future with.

Resolutions he used in the past included “lose weight” and “volunteer” because he thought those were good stepping stones to getting the love life he wanted. But he was discouraged to find that he didn’t keep the weight off nor did he click with the nonprofit groups he investigated.

So instead of coming up with yet another resolution, Jess thought about what he’d love to see happen over the next 12 months. He imagined companionship, connection and intimacy. Enjoyment, laughter with friends and reciprocal commitment to a partner. (Not to mention a fabulous sex life!)

Holding the picture in mind of the year he’d like to have, he asked what the essence of it was, and felt the word that best captured that experience was ‘Connection.’

With his theme for the year summed up in one word, Jess now has an easy tool for bringing this quality to life over the next year. By creating an intention to focus on this attribute, he’s got an effective way to point himself in the direction of what he really wants.

Instead of working to be more attractive or desperately hoping for a relationship to develop, Jess can choose to orient his life around connection—noticing where it is present that he might not have noticed before, appreciating it where he sees others experiencing it, imagining how it might come to pass in his near future, and feeling the essence of connection right now before anything else even changes. That’s the power of conscious creation, and choosing one word is an excellent way to activate it.

We know that we get what we think about, and that shifting our focus creates life change on a dime. There’s no doubt in my mind that as Jess puts this practice to work, he’ll be inspired to new thoughts, actions, conversations and ideas—all of which lead to new results.

Regardless of how you choose to honor the new year we are embarking on, my invitation is that you do exactly that—choose. Be purposeful and deliberate about how you craft your life in 2010; know that it is within your power to do so; that you can’t screw it up, you can’t get it wrong, and there is always plenty to enjoy.

Happy New Year and Namaste!

This article was originally published on December 30, 2009.