“And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance. I hope you dance.” – Lee Ann Womack
That quote from the song “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack, caught my ear when I was thinking about my one-word theme for the coming year. I’m a fan of the one-word theme instead of resolutions. I teach a similar technique for developing your management style. The point is to distill your goal into a single word that you can use to filter the choices you make. You can read more about one-word themes on Fast Company.
When you want to make a commitment to growth and development, you need a couple of things. First, you need to know what area you want to grow or develop. What needs to change for you to get to the next level? We noted the things you meant to accomplish this year but failed to do in The Focus Of Your Control. What new skill or habit will serve you best in the new year?
Second, you need a clear way of remembering the skill or habit. Some people will say, “if it’s that important, you won’t forget it”. While they are not wrong, per se, that attitude doesn’t take into account the busy realities of life that can make you forget your own mother’s name some days. That attitude also has a very judgy feel to it. We’re not wasting our time on that crap here. We’re going to use the one-word theme to solve the problem.
Finally, you need a good reason to change. This reason is different than just wanting to grow for the sake of growing. Developing a new skill or a better habit is like getting a job. You’re hiring this skill or habit to help you do something bigger like pay your mortgage, feed your kids or take a vacation. What’s the value that you will get from this new skill or habit? We talked in more detail about this in The Irish Fighter.
Got all of that done? Great. Now, my word for 2016 is “dance”. There’s a pretty consistent theme throughout my life where I had fallen short of accomplishing goals when I had the choice between doing something uncomfortable or not. As a kid, I was often offered the “not” and that reinforced itself through life, as those things are want to do. The imagery of standing along the wall and not dancing spoke to me.
And I want you to dance with me.
Picking a single theme for your year, one that stretches you in areas that are not your strongest; challenges you to do things you have been avoiding doing for a while now; or addresses shortcomings you are too embarrassed to admit having, is not easy.
And I want you to do it anyway.
Then, I want you to tell people around you. Don’t make it weird like you’re doing a fad diet. Just own it.
When asked about my resolution, I’m going to say something like “I don’t do resolutions. I do themes that apply to most of my choices. This year it’s “dance” which means that when I have a choice to sit or dance, I’ll dance, in whatever form that takes. As long as it’s growing my client base so I can spend more time doing the stuff I love, I’m dancing.”
Note that I’m also sharing the goal, so the people around me know what’s important to me this year and they also know the caveats around the theme. In this case, dancing doesn’t mean jumping out of airplanes if new business isn’t the direct result.
In many cases, I’ll invite them to keep me honest. It can be hard for our friends and loved ones to push us. They can care too much. At times, though, when armed with the knowledge of what you want from life, they are well positioned to nudge you when you fail to nudge yourself.
Several paragraphs ago I asked if you had picked your theme and understood why it was important. Most of you had not but I’m asking you to do it now. Take this next serious step in the name of your career and your life goals. Identify what you to develop or fix. Pick one word to describe the campaign to develop or fix it. Articulate why you want to develop or fix it. Share it broadly and without hesitation. Invite others to keep you honest.
Taking these steps may be uncomfortable for you. I get that, but it will be worth the effort. I promise. Let’s dance.