My 2023 words did not come as easily to me as they had in the past. As always, I did a tech-free retreat to get out of my house, slow down, write, and think. This was a good starting point, and I felt like two words stood out for me. But the third word had been elusive, so I waited.
Journaling helps. Reading helps. Thinking helps. Slowing down helps.
Probably one of the best things I did this fall was to read Brene Brown’s book, Atlas of the Heart. I love how she broke down so many emotions and explained some of the subtle differences. It’s possible that all three words this year are because of this book. Yes, I had been thinking about some of them, but the book clarified what they mean to me and encouraged me to think deeper about them.
I struggled with the third word until one day when I sat down, pulled out my pen and journal, and just free-wrote for a few minutes:
I want to keep writing ◊ I want to stay humble ◊ I want to keep helping career coaches ◊ I want to slow down ◊ I want to keep working ◊ I want to keep playing ◊ I want to keep learning ◊ I want humor in my life ◊ I want to be outdoors as much as possible.
What I discovered was that the free writing confirmed the three words I had been considering…and it felt great. So much of this process is trusting my instincts and being authentic. So here are my three words for 2023 and why I chose them.
As I read Brene’s book, her definition of the word joy really stood out for me. It is “the good mood of the soul” and an intense feeling of deep spiritual connection, pleasure, and appreciation. While experiencing joy, we don’t lose ourselves, we become more truly ourselves.
She talks about how joy and gratitude are closely connected and can create an “intriguing upward spiral.” The opposite of what I call the “vortex of negativity” when people focus on the negative and all that happens is they get more and more negativity.
Gratitude was one of my 2019 words, and I’ve discovered that my yearly words never really leave me. I try to spend time thinking daily about what I am grateful for. So when I read about the connection between joy and gratitude it really resonated with me. Probably the phrase that really hits home for me is “good mood of the soul.” Yeah, I want some of that every day!
Although I list it here as second, this was the final word I chose. It didn’t really make the list until I did my journal purge and it came out almost immediately. Maybe it’s because I was just visiting my 96-year-old dad in Michigan and have watched him deteriorate from a healthy, vibrant, intelligent, successful man to his small world today. But he still remains thankful and gracious for all Jean (his wife) does for him and for all the times his children visit or call.
I’ve also seen some people in various fields who think they know everything. I am not one of those people and never want to be. I always feel like I have more to learn and that I am never the smartest person in the room. I might have more knowledge about a topic than others, but there is so much to know about any subject and there are so many people I know in the career field doing great work. I never want to lose my humility.
In Atlas of the Heart Brene describes humility as “openness to new learning combined with a balanced and accurate assessment of our contributions, including our strengths, imperfections, and opportunities for growth.” And most impactful is this quote:
“I’m here to get it right, not to be right.”
This is an interesting word for me that has many meanings already. The word brings with it more questions than answers. Where do I want to spend my time this year? How can I explore new ways of working less while still providing quality? What are some ways to grow Peak-Careers in areas in which I want to do more in? (i.e. workshops) How are all my roles in life going to grow (husband, father, grandfather, mentor, friend)?
Exploration could be my continued effort to explore my 2022 word, balance. This past year I worked to balance my life more by looking at work and life. Exploration seems to be less about balance and more about exploring options to keep my brain growing, me learning, and experiencing new experiences.
We have some travel plans this year too and my curiosity about cultures and meeting new people is always strong. Exploring new environments, a new backpacking trip someplace, and the always present book on my shelf, seems to fit me well for now.
If you have tried the New Year’s Resolutions and they have not worked well for you, you may want to try this activity of choosing three words to guide you each year. You can watch some interviews and read some blogs I’ve written on this topic here https://peak-careers.com/?s=three+words
My strongest piece of advice is to write them down regularly. Not just print them off and post them, but to physically write them down with a writing utensil. There is something kinesthetically magical about that process where it seems to embed the word in my head better when I write it.
Below are my past words. FYI, I feel like they don’t ever leave me, they just are not forefront in my thinking.
2016 – Health ★ Mindfulness ★ Focus
2017 – Intentional ★ Authentic ★ Wellness
2018 – Reach ★ Capacity ★ Consistency
2019 – Reflection ★ Purposeful ★ Gratitude
2020 – Philanthropy ★ Rebalance ★ Strategic
2021 – Be ★ Kindness ★ Understanding
2022 – Community ★ Balance ★ Positivity
If you have chosen three words to guide you for the year, I’d love to hear what they are and what they mean to you.
Watch this interview with three of us talking about our Three Words to Guide Us in 2023
Jim Peacock is the Principal at Peak-Careers Consulting and writes a weekly email for career practitioners. Peak-Careers offers discussion-based online seminars for career practitioners focused on meeting continuing education needs for CCSP, GCDF and BCC certified professionals as well as workshops for career practitioners and individual career coaching.
He is the author of A Field Guide for Career Practitioners: Helping Your Clients Create Their Next Move and The Adventure of Finding Me in New Zealand. He is also the recipient of the 2020 Kenneth C. Hoyt Award from the National Career Development Association and the Mid-Atlantic Career Counseling Association’s Professional Contribution’s Award in 2020.
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