One Word Guide to 2017

By Susan Schilke; February 1, 2017

In the midst of finalizing your plans and goals for 2017, identifying personal growth opportunities, and creating a vision for your year, I invite you to distill these thoughts into your one word for the year.  Jon Gordon wrote One Word in 2012, and he says finding your word ‘will change your life.’  I have finally joined the ‘One Word’ team.

I’ve been a Jon Gordon fan since he was a featured speaker at the TeamStrength Leadership Workshop 2008, but I struggled a little with the ‘one word’ concept.  The premise is you’ll create clarity for your year in all the dimensions of your life if you select an overall theme for the year.  One word that inspires you and provides you guidance throughout – personally, professionally, spiritually, physically, financially, emotionally.  Just one word.

In TeamStrength, we write our vision in narrative form through the annual Snapshot Letter.  You craft this missive by dating it one year in the future, addressing it to yourself, and writing about where you are and how you got there.  Instead of listing goals and plans, you write about the year as if it’s already happened, with details on milestones, timing, and impact.  It is a powerful tool that consistently leads to clarity, new ideas and higher levels of success.  Not just one word – pages of vivid descriptions of your achievements for the year.

But I’ve watched several TeamStrength members who have embraced the ‘one word’ quite effectively and even integrated this into their leaders’ annual snapshot letters (props to MarketLauncher!).  I’ve watched it have impact on CEOs, their leadership team, and even my best friend, who’s been identifying her ‘one word’ for years. So I decided to give it a try.  I’ll recommend you do the same, and here are some general guidelines that worked for me:

  1. Reflect on the upcoming year – What are your most critical goals? What changes or life events are on the horizon?  What do you want to achieve personally?  It’s February, so you’ve already invested time in your 2017 plan.  Your One Word isn’t designed to be the starting point of your vision.  Instead, look for themes and an overall motivator.
  2. Develop a list of options for your One Word. What are the most important trait(s) you might need this year?  At the end of the year, what will be different?  What action will you need to take consistently?  What emotion will drive your year?  Take AIM – what do you need to Add, Increase or Minimize this year?
  3. Get this down to a short list of potential words, then revisit the dimensions of your life and your goals for the year. Some of your options will align in some areas, but may not feel right for others. Identify the word that most speaks to you for the year.  Pick a word that is motivating, inspirational and positive.
  4. Finally – share your word with others – spouse, family, friends, colleagues. You can even make a poster on Jon’s website.  (I’ve included mine!)

My one word for 2017 is ‘Renewal.’  It connects so many things this year.  TeamStrength celebrates 25 years in 2017, and last year we added the most new members to the program in any one year since the very first – 1992.  Renewal applies in multiple ways – new members provide energy and renewal; and to continue to offer my best to members, I need to have consistent practices of renewal.

My husband and I celebrate 24 years of marriage this year, and are nearly empty-nesters, with kids in college (and a recent college grad – congrats Samantha!).  It’s a time for renewal in our relationship. We’ve been in our home 23 years, and are about to do some renovating.  Focusing on the renewal of our home will help get us through the challenges of renovation.  Renewal is a consistent and motivating theme for my 2017 in countless ways!

Since selecting my word, I’ve share the idea with my husband (‘Transition’), my daughter (‘Do’), and I’ve begun talking to members about it (‘Excellence,’ ‘Faster,’ ‘Move,’ and ‘Wellness’).  I’ll continue to work with TeamStrength CEOs and Key Executives on selecting their one word for 2017.

And I encourage each of you to find your word.  Take some time and select a powerful word that will motivate and guide you to make the most of 2017.  Choose it and use it to do more this year!