What Direction Are You Headed This Year?

what direction are you headed this year

I know that you’re probably feeling extra busy right now. After taking off some holiday time with your loved ones and thinking, “oh that can wait until January…” January has arrived and your to-do list is overflowing with, well – overflow.

new years resolution listSo in the interest of simplifying, let’s talk about shortening your New Year’s Resolution List. Each New Year is the time many traditionally take to reassess their path. And if you’re like me, you have a minimum of 10 things you can list off the top of your head that you know, if you did them, would make your life better. (Mine starts with keeping my desk clean, daily meditation, training my puppy more, less sugar, more sleep. . . really I could continue.) Yes, in our minds, there is a perfect vision of ourselves where our lives are in sync with our desires. The reality feels very different.

A few years ago my friend Sara Gottfried, MD and I began coming up with a word for the New Year instead of a long list of resolutions. What I love about this one-word idea, is that is forces you to synthesize the many different aspects of your life into one skill, desire, or competency, that if mastered, would propel you along a trajectory of your choosing.

When you choose one word, you are setting up a direction for yourself, not targeting change of multiple behaviors, which you might or might not succeed at. With one word you know where to focus your energy and how to keep recalibrating when you get off course.

My word for the year is STRETCH. This word encompasses what I want to do in my business, branch out & learn, what I want to help my clients do, and even what I want to do more of physically (I’m tired of having tight hamstrings and chronic back pain). And while I believe STRETCH is a worthy goal, it’s also not a destination. I’ll never get there. I’ll never be completely “stretched out”. And that’s ok too.

Need some ideas? Some of our past words (and others I’ve found online) have included:


Now it’s your turn – what path do you want to point your compass towards this year? In your professional life? In your personal life?

writing new years resolutionTake a few minutes now to jot down some ideas and when you find a winner – first email it to me, then post it prominently above your desk, near your mirror or even as your screensaver. Don’t let yourself forget where you really want to be headed this year – and use it to reorient yourself when the inevitable winds of change throw you temporarily off-course.

Jo Ilfeld, PhD

An executive leadership coach, Jo helps C-suite leaders, executives, and high-potential managers develop the flexibility, skill, and frame of mind to meet the challenges of the next five, ten, twenty years…. and beyond. She works with individuals, teams and organizations on four core areas of leadership development. Check out Jo's bio page for more information.

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