Chelsea: Do you set New Year's resolutions or set new goals this time of year? I don't. I do, however, go through a reflection process and choose one word for the year that serves as a compass or a guide all year. Now, I’m not against goals. In fact, I think they can be very powerful when done correctly. So, in next week’s episode, I’m gonna dive into setting those mid-season goals, if you're interested in that. But, for me, before I get into goals, I have to know what my focus is, and because that focus will guide my mindset and help me course correct when I get off track, it makes it so much more likely that I will achieve those goals.
If you're new to this show, welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast where we talk about mindset, motivation, and resilience in our dance industry. I’m Dr. Chelsea, a Sport Psychology Consultant and former professional dancer, and I’m here to help bring the positive power of psychology into the dance studio.
Since this is the first episode of 2023, I’m going to share a little about my own reflection process and how I chose my one word for the year. If you are not familiar with the concept of choosing one word, it comes from Jon Gordon. He has a great book about it called One Word, and if you scroll back to episode 43 of this podcast, I share my one word for 2022 and go deeper into the process, kind of walking you through how to do it.
For today, I’m going to share what happened with last year’s word (how it helped and how I failed at it) and give some guiding questions and things to consider so you can choose your own word for 2023.
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Welcome to the Passion for Dance podcast. I’m Dr. Chelsea, a former professional dancer and a dance team coach turned sports psychologist. This podcast focuses on four main pillars: motivation, resilience, mindset, and community. Each week, you’ll learn actionable strategies, mindsets, and tips to teach your dancers more than good technique. This is a podcast where we can all make a lasting impact and share our passion for dance. Let’s do this!
Reflection on My 2022 Word: Simplify – 2:12
Whenever I start this process, I do a lot of reflection. I think about the highs and the lows of the year, what I’m grateful for, how I spent my time, my own accomplishments, and where I fell short. My stress level coming out of the pandemic guided my word for last year which was simplify. I just needed things to be more simple. I’m gonna be honest and say, though, that I didn't stick to this one very well, and I actually failed at it pretty badly, but if you’ve been in this community for a while, you may know my view of failure. Failure is okay. As long as you take a lesson from it and move forward, failure is just further information. In past years, my one word has had a profound impact on how I make decisions and how I experience my life for the whole year; 2022 didn't work out that way.
There were some positive impacts of having my word be simplify. I did simplify many things in my business, streamlining backend processes and made better use of my overall time. I also simplified our calendar system at home which has helped my family and saved a lot of confusion around school and kids activities. So, some things I absolutely did simplify, but I was reading back through my reflection journal, and in May of last year, I wrote: “I have to be honest with myself and say I don’t remember my one word. I had to go look it up.” Looking back at that, I know that’s when I was way off track.
When I think about the years when my one word has been more successful, I had it displayed in my home office where I could see it every day. Clearly, not having that up in front of me every day in this last year meant I lost it. Usually, it’s the compass that helps me make every decision and focus my intention all year. In 2022, I lost that compass, and so, it didn't have the same impact.
So, this time I did some reflection specifically on why it worked better in previous years than it did last year and just to decide if I should even do this again. If it didn't work, then maybe I shouldn't do it. But I came to the conclusion that I should absolutely do it again because I’ve seen how much it makes a difference. When I have one singular guiding intention for the year, I see more progress. Rather than trying to set multiple goals or focus on five different values, when I pick one, there is true progress in that one direction. Then, when I’m consistent with that one thing all year, I often create some habits that carry with me into the new year. So, the impact is not just the year I used that word. It compounds every year.
So, I’m committed to doing it again for 2023 and the big difference of creating a way to display it in my home office so that I don’t forget. You can check out my Instagram to see a picture if you want, but it became very clear I need to see it regularly. That was my big lesson. So, when I sit down to do weekly reflections, I need to see it. When I say yes or no to work projects, I need to see it. So, that’s my small shift to help make sure this year has the same powerful impact I saw in 2020 and 2021.
My One Word Process – 5:21
Okay, so, onto this year’s word. As I mentioned, these questions and the whole process comes from Jon Gordon. I highly recommend his book if you want to really dig into this.
So, to start, I read through last year’s reflection journal. What I noticed right away is that I drifted away from that entire practice last year. I didn't use my reflection journal as regularly as I usually do. Even though I speak about the power of reflection all the time, I lost that habit. I know that needs to change this year. So, that was in the back of my mind as I started thinking about 2023.
After reading through my journal, I pulled out a new blank page, and I journaled about what I want to focus on more broadly (in work, in family, in my life in general). The theme that came out this year was a desire to expand my comfort zone, try new things, accept challenges.
After thinking about that, I start to think about what’s been in the way of achieving that focus before. For me, the one thing that got in the way was a lack of consistent reflection. If I don't notice what’s working and what’s not and how I feel about it, I just stay on the same hamster wheel rather than consistently moving in one intentional direction.
Next, I think about what I want more of and less of in my life. I decided I want more nurturing of my strength as a learner. You may have heard of StrengthsFinder. I’m not just saying it’s a strength that actually comes from this formal assessment of StrengthsFinder that identifies your top five strengths, and they can come from four different categories. My strengths are focused in two categories (maybe not surprisingly if you know me well) either executing strengths or strategic thinking strengths, but my very top strength of learner is an executing strength. I decided I want more of that in my life this year. If I want to expand my comfort zone and try new things, I know, for me, I have to learn about it before I dive in. So, if I nurture my strength as a learner, I’ll be more likely to focus on that, and I’ll be willing to take on new challenges because I’ve given myself a chance to learn about it. I have to consider the how behind a goal, and for me, the how I will expand my comfort zone is taking the time to lean into my strength as a learner. As for what I want less of, I want less comparison. I’ve talked about comparison before. I’m sure I will again. That’s my personal achilles heel, and I will continue to work on that.
After thinking about what I want more of and what I want less of, the next step is to consider what needs to change and what matters most. After going through all of this journaling, I’ll look back to see if any words stand out or generate a list of words that encompass the themes that I see.
So, at this point, on the next piece of paper, I wrote down a list of everything that came out through this journal process. Some years, at this point, the word is apparent right away. I know what it is, I’m solid, and I can move forward. Not this time. I wrote the list, I sat with it for a while, and then I had to put it aside. I ruminated on it for a few days, sometimes adding to the list, sometimes removing until one evening it became clear. There was a clear shift in my thinking, and it clicked: this is it. My word for 2023 is purpose.
My Word for 2023 – 8:48
I’m gonna share my specific personal insights with you now with the hopes that it inspires you to reflect and choose your own word. If you take the process seriously, and it’s truly connected to you, the impact is incredible. My word is what I need in my life right now. Your word would be very different and should reflect what you need. I hope listening to my thought process will help you find your own compass for the year, and, selfishly, taking a little time to fully think this through and share it here will probably hold me more accountable to it this year, as well, than I did last time.
Working With Purpose – 9:23
I want to work with a purpose, not just spin the wheel to work on something because that’s how it’s always done. I don't want to do too many things or include things on my task list that don't serve a specific purpose. I want purposeful energy directed in one place. I’ll often feel scattered at work, both as a professor and as an entrepreneur, and I want to make decisions, take on projects, work on daily tasks that serve a specific purpose that I am both aware of and have actively chosen, hence the reflection and intention that I wanted more of of my life. That’s where this matters.
Resting With Purpose – 10:00
I also want to rest with purpose. That may seem weird, but I do. I found myself, over this recent break, having a hard time truly unplugging and being mentally relaxed enough to do nothing. I did take a few days and actually do nothing, but that’s really uncomfortable for me. I don't know if any of you feel that way, but it’s actually really uncomfortable. I don’t like sitting and doing nothing. So, I want to learn from that feeling and maybe my rest can actually be more purposeful. Reading a book I’ve been wanting to read (which serves that purpose of fueling the learner in me, again), going bowling with my son (which has a clear purpose of connection), or just choosing an active rest rather than sitting on a phone, zoning out with the TV on in the background. I want to actually think about what kind of rest do I need? Do I need connection? Well, then, I want to spend time with my children or call one of my friends or set up a date with my husband. My rest needs a connection component to it. Or do I need time alone? Do I need a mental rest, right? I think if I am more intentional in thinking about what I truly need, I can rest with a more clear purpose where I will actually feel the positive effect of that.
Routines That Serve Me – 11:20
I also want to stick to routines that I know serve me well like my workouts, nightly reflections, and stretching. I know if I connect to those routines, to their larger purpose, I’m more likely to stick to them. So, one of the things that came up in journaling is how much I enjoy those routines of taking care of my body and other elements of self-care, and I need to bring those back to their larger purpose so that I will stick with them.
Creating With Purpose – 11:49
I also want to create with a purpose. Similar to the idea of working on a hamster wheel, I don't want that anymore. I want to write with a more clear overarching purpose. So, maybe you’ll see more of that if you keep listening to the podcast this year (I hope you will anyway) or maybe it’ll be more of a behind-the-scenes purpose-driven focus, but I want to create with a larger purpose in mind.
A Focus On My Values – 12:14
Lastly, I want to stay focused on my values. I’ve talked about values and identity on the show as well, and it’s something I talk with private clients about a lot, but for me, it’s how I get out of comparison. If I focus on my values and my identity, I’m less triggered by my friends’ success and social media highlight reels because they have a different focus, and that’s good. Values should always drive your purpose, so by focusing on the intention of having a purpose this year, I know the root of my purpose is my values, and that will keep me on track.
The definition of purpose is the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exists. I intend to have a reason for my work, a focus for my creations, and an intention for why I’m here and how I contribute.
If You Pick a Word for 2023 – 13:07
I’ll wrap up by saying if you decide to pick up one word for the year, there are two things you can do to help start things off on the right foot. First, display it somewhere you will see it regularly. That was a clear lesson for me this year. But second, choose three tangible action steps you can take in January to focus on that word. Then, it will take root right away and you see the power of it, then you're more likely to see it through for the rest of the year.
I hope this deep dive into my one word thought process was helpful and maybe a little inspiring if you haven't found your own word yet, and I’ll ask a small favor. If you're still listening, and you liked the show, please leave a review wherever you listen. You can go to ratethispodcast.com/passionfordance and choose your platform to leave a review. Those positive ratings and reviews really help me.
And if you have a one word for 2023, I’d love to hear about it. Send me a message on Instagram or email me to let me know what you’ve chosen and why it matters to you. I believe when we have a simple compass like this one word, it will help us have that stronger positive impact on those around us, and I know that’s why you're here. So, choose your own one word for the year, and use it to keep sharing your passion for dance with the world.
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