Goal Setting in One Word

Filed under: Personal Growth

Goal setting is this big thing people often talk about, and not without reason. We can all agree that goals are important in life, right? 

A lot of people report that most of the goals they set at the start of a year just fizzle out as months go by. One way to deal with this is by following the One Word principle.

The One Word principle isn’t original to us. Someone else came up with it, but we think it’s awesome, so we decided to adopt it.

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The principle consists of picking one word that broadly defines your goals for the year. It has to be a word that resonates with you and encompasses what matters most to you at this moment in life. 

The reason why you’d want to pick one word to replace a more detailed list of goals for the year is because your goals aren’t necessarily aligned in any one direction. The detailed list may work, but it also might happen that your unconscious mind will become overwhelmed with so many unrelated objectives that it’ll just give up on most, if not all of them.

By picking a word (often an unspecified verb or nominalization) that roughly encompasses the goals you’d put in a detailed list, you set a clear path that your unconscious mind can follow.

When asked what word he chose for this year, one of our team members promptly responded is wellness. He explained: “I chose this word because, among other things, I want to reach the end of this year being healthier than when it started. I want to lose weight and improve my physical fitness and athletic performance. I want to get mentally healthier, too.” Note that mental health is an integral part of general wellness, also.

Can you see how all of his objectives fit into the word he chose in one way or another? If he had chosen to make a big list of apparently unrelated goals, he’d risk overloading his reticular activating system (RAS). By choosing just one word instead, he kept all of my objectives aligned in a single direction, making it much easier for the RAS to keep up and make the unconscious choices that will lead to his desired outcomes.

We’ll leave you with this challenge: choose a word that resonates with your goals for the rest of the year. Take a while (maybe a few weeks) to think about it, if you need. Focus on how you’re feeling right now and how you want to feel when the year ends. You may change your word midway through if you feel you need to. You may also choose the same word for the next year. The choice is yours!

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