Last week, I offered up a raft of tools to help you keep your New Year’s Resolutions. This week, I’m going to let you in on a secret: I didn’t actually make any resolutions this year―at least not in the traditional sense. Instead, I’m using an alternative approach: the Word of the Year.
Word of the Year is an idea that has been floating around the business and motivational blogosphere for a while now. It is particularly appealing to us self-employed, entrepreneurial types who tend to see rules the way a bull sees a red cape.
Fact: You can’t “break” a word.
Picking a Word of the Year is like giving yourself a theme to provide structure and focus, while allowing you the flexibility to interpret it the way you want. The fact that there’s nothing to “break” means there’s no room for all-or-nothing-ism as an excuse to give up on it.
So, how do you pick a word? First, go for something that takes you out of your comfort zone. Think big (There’s no way to fail at this game, so why not?). Use your word to give you permission to break some of your own habits and unspoken rules. For example, if you have a fear of inconveniencing others that keeps you from getting your needs met, you could pick a word like “push.” The next time you start to feel guilty for just ordering water as your lunch beverage, imagine the word “push” whispering in your ear, and you may find yourself saying, “And I’d like a slice of lemon in that, too, please.”
Make it broad enough to be pliable but specific enough to force you to leave some stuff out. Part of the point of this exercise is to provide a direction. One example of a Word of the Year was the word “economy” in Bill Clinton’s famous campaign slogan: “It’s the economy, stupid.” Every chance they got, the candidate and his team found ways to hammer their message home. It was just one concept, so it forced them to pick and choose. This risked alienating voters who wanted them to focus on “their” issue, but it also gave them the latitude to fit many different policy points into it. And it made them memorable.
You can keep your word secret or make it public. The good news about sharing your word with others is that people may remember it and begin to identify you with it; the bad news is that people may remember it and want you to live up to it.
“And Spring Insight’s Word of the Year Is….”
By now, you are probably dying to know Spring Insight’s Word of the Year. Here it is (drumroll, please): Intentional.
There’s a point in the life of every company when it can either stay where it is or break out into something bigger and better. I’ve felt for some time that Spring Insight could be that kind of breakout company (last year’s word was “Scale”). Over the past year, I have also come to the realization that achieving that will require acting with intention and that the era of wanton experimentation―our adolescence―is over.
In other words, Spring Insight is growing up.
Intentional action sounds strong and positive, but what does it actually entail?
It means saying “yes,” selectively, especially to some new and unfamiliar things, and saying “no” to a lot of other things. Specifically, it means focusing on our strengths and not trying to be the expert on everything. SEO is not our thing, for example, and we are okay with that.
On the “yes” end of the spectrum, I decided to invest in the company by expanding our staff, which has made an immense difference in our ability to take on bigger projects.
Being intentional can also mean saying “no” to an old identity and “yes” to a new one. For me, that has meant letting go of an underdog identity that left me feeling apologetic for charging what I know we’re worth. At this point, I fully appreciate the value we are adding and have enough confidence in what we bring to the table to claim it out loud.
And part of what we bring to the table is helping our clients to be intentional about their websites. We do that by asking questions every step of the way to make sure each element of a site is there for a reason. Sometimes that involves making tough choices, and we are there to hold your hand as you move forward.
So, what about you? Do you have a Word for 2015? Let’s hear it!