Monday, January 6, 2014

Don't Define Yourself By One Word (Or Three)

As we start the new year, there's a trend going around of choosing one word, or occasionally three to be your word(s) of the year. The idea is that you use this word or several to motivate you, inspire you, keep you on track. It's kind of your theme of the year, or perhaps your incredibly short mission statement. I'm sure every coach or leader asking people to do this has a slightly different take on it, but the word or words are to guide you through the year.

I like this exercise, as I am all about motivation and inspiration, and because I love the sound and feel of words in general. When asked to choose three, I chose courage, authenticity, and love. Always love.  I'm one of those people who thinks life is about love, in all forms, and the rest is just frosting. So that one was easy.  Courage was also an obvious choice for me. I have a lot of fears and worries, some obvious, some that even I have trouble deciphering. I want to look them in the eye and say, "You can't hold me back". Finally, I chose authenticity. By this, I mean authenticity to myself. I want to be the truest me I can be. I realize I've been holding back on this a lot... so much that sometimes I have to dig way down to actually find the real me. That must change. Quite simply, and completely cliche, I need to find myself and then be loyal to that self I find.

I chose authenticity for another reason too. As much as I like this exercise, I don't want to get bogged down in the words. We are all made up of lots of tiny pieces, yet it can be so easy to steer the focus to one aspect of ourselves or our lives. This is particularly true when it comes to our negative thoughts: I'm too short, I'm too tall, I'm too fat, I'm too skinny, I can't do this, I wish I didn't do that, I hate my job, I wish I'd meet someone, etc. So while it can be inspiring to choose some "words to live by", it can also be dangerous to hone in too much on a word or two. It can be easy to let these words come to define you. Even if they're positive, they can limit you. For instance, I know people who chose the word "money" because their goal is to increase their savings or improve their business' budget. But you don't want money to be so defining that you look past other values you hold. Similarly, I choose to focus on courage, but there are some areas in which you need to use the appropriate caution, and I don't want to overlook those because I'm trying to be a superhero of all things courageous. I chose authenticity to bring my back to my center of sorts. While it is a word, it encompasses a much bigger concept - make sure that whatever words or concepts I'm focusing on, that at the heart of it all, is being my true self.

We are so many moving parts, ever-changing, always evolving. So if you'd like to, choose that word or three. Let this word inspire you, motivate you, propel you. Just don't let it define you.  For if we keep our minds open, we often find inspiration and motivation in the most unsuspected places. 

No comments:

Post a Comment