Forget goals. Choose one word for next year.

About this time each year, I start determining my goals for the next year.

Yes, I tend to procrastinate a little.

In fairness to myself, it’s not like I completely put off thinking about my goals until the last few days of the year. By November, I have a pretty good idea of what I want to accomplish in the new year. By the last half of December, I have a nice, long list of things I would like to make happen. And, by the last day of the year, I have chosen my top three goals.

This year, I’m doing something different.

Forget setting goals. I’m choosing one word.

I first heard of the one word concept from Jon Gordon. While I found a certain appeal to boiling everything down to one word, it seemed too broad to be effective. Everything I knew about purposeful change said you had to set clearly defined and actionable goals to make that change happen. How could you do that with one single word? So, I continued with my goal list, year after year.

This past year, I noticed something about my goals. Not only did I not accomplish any of them, but I didn’t care that I hadn’t. The goals I had set for myself just felt flat, like I had set those goals just for the sake of having goals. Looking back over previous years, that has pretty much been the case for quite a while.

This doesn’t mean that I haven’t made progress. Change happened independent of the goals, and for the most part that change was good. Other people would be happy about the progress and not overly-bothered by the abandoned goals. I would say the abandoned goals made me feel guilty, but that was before I chose my one word for the next year.


So, maybe I’ve cheated a little by implementing my one word early. But I’m choosing not to think of it that way. While I have trained myself to be mostly optimistic, I still find myself slipping into ways of thinking that have been holding my business back. I’m not talking about blatantly pessimistic thinking, but the more subtle, gray sort of thoughts that cast a shadow on an otherwise sunny situation.

I am committed to stopping that, starting now.

Rather than setting a list of goals for the year, I have chosen the word “reframing” to define the next twelve months. It is written on my whiteboard so I see it first thing every day. It will be at the center of my vision board when I make it over the holiday break. And it will define my entire year.

There is nothing wrong with goal setting, and I’m not ruling out the possibility of setting goals for myself during the course of the year. But my one word will be the overarching theme for any goals I do set.

One word. You really can’t start any smaller than that.

Related Article