I’ve chosen a word, now what? 5 practical ways to make your word real.

It’s all very good and well to choose a word of the year but sometimes I ask people a few months in, “how’s your word of the year going?” and they can’t even remember their word.

Don’t feel bad if this is you; it is very normal but that’s not to say we should accept that, throw up our hands and just leave it be.

My 14 words from 2009 to 2022

  • 2009 – simplify
  • 2010 – consolidate
  • 2011 – courage
  • 2012 – create
  • 2013 – trust
  • 2014 – shine
  • 2015 – enough
  • 2016 – joy
  • 2017 – give
  • 2018 – fun
  • 2019 – bold
  • 2020 – light
  • 2021 – play
  • 2022 – delight

After 14 years of me choosing and living with a word, I’d like to share a few things that work for me:

  1. Set your word as your screensaver/ password or desktop wallpaper on your laptop or phone

Out of sight means out of mind. If you have to type in that word as a password several times a day, it will stick. If you see it as your wallpaper on your phone when you reach for it 80 times a day (or so the stats say), you’ll start to remember it.

2. Make a policy for yourself around your word

E.g. if your word is connect, then maybe you’d say, “every time someone asks me on a friend date, I will say yes”. When my word was fun, I weighed up every commitment with “does this sound fun?” If it didn’t, I declined. My policy this year is to stop and take the picture (a sure source of delight to me afterwards even if I don’t feel like it in the moment)

3. Set goals for your word

Ask yourself monthly, “how can I _________ this month”. Where do I need a reminder that I am enough? Where can I take delight? How can I be brave? What needs to be nourished and how am I going to do it? Who can I connect with? What can I create?

4. Review how you did at the end of every month

On a scale of 1 – 10, how much did I move? Did I take enough action? Did I rest enough? is there enough balance? And so on. Use your word and make changes for next month if what you were doing wasn’t working.

Set a reminder in your phone otherwise you will most likely not remember. I call the last day of every month Goals Night for this very reason.

5. Stay open to your word

Yes, I just said in 3 above to set goals, but also stay open. Sometimes the need for your word will appear in unexpected ways. Last year my word was play and I have not worked as hard at my job in many many years. There was a need for me to remember to play. See? My 2016 word was joy and that was the year we bought this house and struggled to sell the previous one. I had to choose joy in those 3 months!

Bonus – buy a piece of jewellery or art

I have many necklaces and rings that remind me of my words through the years. I also bought a piece of art off etsy one year for courage.

What are the tips and tricks you’d like to share?

It all started with a facecloth (more about my latest project)

If you’ve hung around here for awhile, you know I love a project. I don’t know what it is but I think it’s that I like something with clearly-defined rules, and a very clear start and end date.

Aside from my annual goals (which I’ll review end of March as I checked at the beginning of the month, and nothing could be crossed off yet ;)), #rest22in2022, I am also doing what I call Project Upgrade this year.

Really, it’s Project Upgrade, Fix or Declutter. Let me explain.

I’m an under buyer with most things in life so I will use things until they’re completely done. I do declutter regularly as I am very partial to the one in, one out rule, but I very rarely upgrade things just because. And I’ve been thinking that I need to do that; I don’t have to be the only one to use up things.

It all started with a facecloth. I went to Cape Town on the 30 November last year and forgot my facecloth at home. The hotel provided me with the softest facecloth ever that is now my “travel facecloth”. After I’d used this facecloth for 3 days, my current one suddenly felt too rough and I started pondering.

If this exists in one area of my life, where else is it happening?

So I made a quick list and decided to adopt it as my house/ personal project for the year.

Declutter

These are for things need to go but I’m still hanging onto them. Why? (gym pants and gym t-shirts)

Fix

Some things really just need a quick google, a couple of phone calls and arranging a date for the service provider to come and do their magic. E.g. the pool cover that needs replacing, there are some chairs that I’ve wanted reupholstered, and so on. They’re all “fine” but “fine” is not delightful and they can all stand to delight me again.

Upgrade

I batch-cook almost every week but I only have one very big pot, one saucepan the same diameter and a medium pot. I’ve wanted another big pot for months. Why don’t I just go buy it?! I think because it feels like there are so many options and everything comes in sets and I don’t want a set. If you can recommend a good big pot, go ahead – I’m listening!

My plan is to tackle 2 – 3 of these little projects every month, seasonally where possible (pool and windows in autumn once the rains stop).

So far so good. January’s three projects were done successfully and this month, we’ve had an electrician out to sort out the plug points in the lounge, I’ve decluttered and bought nice new kitchen cloths and after visiting 2 – 3 shops, I finally found new gym shoes yesterday.

Of course, I fully expect to have to move things around and delete some because this house is 45 years old and things constantly need fixing or upgrading. But I definitely want to sort out all my personal upgrades.

What do you think? Would a project upgrade, fix or declutter work for you or your home?

How I’ll be setting goals in 2022

Before I tell you about the change, maybe I should tell you how I used to set goals.

I have a number of areas of my life and I’d set goals in each of these areas every month, e.g. family, friends, finances/ home, fun/ play, fitness & health, work, Organising Queen/ coaching, etc.

I think you’ve already worked out the reason I’d end up with at least 30 goals every month. Fine in a pre-pandemic world but it started feeling like it was a lot and I was adding extra pressure to my life.

For this year, that feels too much. It doesn’t feel as fun as it did a few years ago to set 36 goals a month and I LOVE GOALS.

I’m an upholder so I started asking clarifying questions, like what makes sense for me to do, and that’s when I arrived at my answer.

I decided to set goals with my word of the year (delight) and my work word (balance), and then another top two things on my mind for that month. For January, this was home (I mentioned before that we’ve had a few changes) and health (getting back to basics with eating and establishing my exercise routines).

With this pared-down version, I ended up with 20 goals for January and I will get to almost all of them.

I now feel more accomplished (we all need motivation) and inspired, and much more focussed!

A note on the mind map – I love starting any planning with a mind map because it gets me out of my head to just “free flow” and when I’m clear on how I want to move forward, if I want, I can then make a list. These days I just leave my mind map as my goals list.

How are you setting goals for 2022? Have you set goals for February yet?

If you feel like you want to aim for a little something, why don’t you consider using just one or two areas of your life to start.

PS I’m available for four tendencies coaching if you want to understand how to make your tendency work for you this year, both to reach your goals or just to improve your work or personal life. Contact me now.

How to choose your word of the year

If you’ve been around awhile, you’ll know that I have chosen a word of the year for a long time, in fact, every year since 2008. This is year 15! If you scroll down to the end of this post, you’ll see a list of all my previous words.

Gretchen and Elizabeth, on the Happier Podcast, use either a word or theme for the year. 

It’s all good; the idea is that your word will guide you, inspire you and motivate you.

So how do you chose a word? There are many ways – also, let’s be honest, sometimes my word has come to me in a flash, sometimes it’s taken a few weeks of pondering, sometimes I think I have it and I change it at the last minute when “trying on” my word doesn’t feel right, and sometimes I’ve known months in advance.


Here are some thoughts and questions which I hope will guide you.

  1. Your word can be more than one word; it can be a phrase or even a short sentence.
  2. Your word should call you to something (perhaps you want to create more of something in your life that is currently lacking)
  3. What do you need? What do you want? How do you want to feel? What do you think is lacking in your life? That may be your word.
  4. Your word doesn’t have to be cool or trendy. One year (the year after my twins were born) my word was consolidate (seemingly the most boring word of all) because I needed to get back to basics in myself, home and routines.
  5. Your word might feel like it is the exact opposite of who you are. Go with it. Last year my word was play. Playful is not who I am naturally but I needed some lightheartedness from the pandemic.
  6. Is there an area of your life that could use an extra boost? You might need a word just for your work or for your family.

(at this point, some of you already know what your word is but some need more help)

Here’s what to do:

  1. Reflect on 2021 – what worked, what didn’t, what needs to change, what do you want more/ less of?
  2. Write these answers down on paper.
  3. Look over your answers and see the words that seem to pop out. Or, see if any themes emerge (maybe there’s a lot pointing to health, or to taking charge, or boundaries).
  4. Write down all the possible words. Do you land on one that resonates deeply? Great. If not, keep looking. Check for synonyms in the dictionary.
  5. When it feels like you have your word, share it with a friend. Does it feel right?  Great. If not, maybe sit with it for a few days.
  6. Remember this is a moment in time. You can change your word anytime. A podcaster lost her dad and changed her word in September because she said, “now is the time of restoration for me”.

Please share your word with me; I love to hear everyone’s words!

For this last quarter, do you need a reset?


I shared on Instagram that I applied for a new job and got it! It’s a promotion and I have both direct and indirect reports, and while I’m loving it, it’s a lot. Especially since I’m still doing my old job until I recruit suitable replacements.

I decided that this is a good a time as any for a reset.

As Gretchen Rubin often says, the Strategy of the Clean Slate is powerful so I’m using this time to rethink how I want to move forward at work. In financial services, we’ve all been working way too much since Covid hit last March and I honestly think this level of intense work is unsustainable.

  1. Do you need a reset in the way you work?
  2. Do you need to move more during the day?
  3. Do you need to eat better and stock up on healthy snacks?
  4. Do you need better work boundaries for yourself and others?

(all of these are a yes for me too)


What about a reset in other areas of your life?

  1. Do you need to catch up on some personal medical or other errands  – dentist, gynae, haircuts? 
  2. Does your home need a bit of a refresh? As much as I clean and organise throughout the year, there is nothing like spring to inspire me to organise little spaces and get a few tolerations sorted. Earlier today I emailed the carpet cleaner and I’ll be booking the window cleaners soon.
  3. Does your exercise routine need a shake up? It seems that mine gets shaken up every 6 months or so even though it is not intentional. My existing Zumba classes have been fully booked for the last couple of weeks no matter how early in the day I book. I’m not a fan of just pitching and “hoping for the best” as some have suggested. I’d rather intentionally book elsewhere and know I have a space – that suits my upholder self much better. So I decided to lean into it (less stress!) and have just booked elsewhere for now. And look at my gorgeous view while I drive to the new gym…

If you need a reset, and you need some help strategising, that’s my super power so contact me when you’re ready for your laser coaching session.

Otherwise, comment and tell me where and how you’re resetting in your life.

How to do a quick and effective half-year review

It might be that I’m such a big fan of reflecting and reviewing precisely because it doesn’t come naturally to me.

I recognise the process as valuable though which is why I take the time to do a half-year review every year.

Your review is only a 20 – 30 minute process but it will make you feel that you closed off the first half of the year and can focus afresh on the 6 months ahead.

What do you need?

  1. 20 – 30 minutes
  2. A drink of your choice – hot or cold
  3. Notebook/ bullet journal
  4. Pen

You could type into a computer or your phone but I recommend doing it with a pen and paper so that your brain slows down enough to process as you think through the questions.

Here are some questions to ask yourself. Use all, or just use the first 5 questions:

  1. What went well, and why?
  2. What could be better? How?
  3. What have you learned about yourself?
  4. What energised you? How can you bring more of this into your life?
  5. If you chose a word of the year, has it been guiding/ inspiring/ clarifying for you? How are you living out your word of the year? Do you need to change your word? Here’s your permission slip if you want to do that.
  6. Looking at your goals, have you made good progress and are you on track?
  7. Are there any goals you need to let go of? Let them go and be kind to yourself.
  8. Do you know why those goals were no longer motivating you?
  9. Looking forward… what are the 3 main things you want to focus on for the next 3 – 6 months?
  10. Do you have the necessary support? I would love to help you.

Reset and refresh sessions

  • I will send you a prep pack once I receive your payment which you work though and return to me 48 hours before your session so I can spend some time beforehand preparing.
  • We meet on Skype or Zoom, whichever option you prefer.
  • We will discuss what you want to keep in your life going forward and more importantly, what you want to let go of.
  • We might set new goals and develop action plans, or tweak existing goals to suit where you are right now.
  • My goal is that you leave the session encouraged, inspired and that you have clarity on the way forward.
  • The sessions are 60 minutes long and your investment in yourself is $75/ R1000 (previous clients get a discount!)
  • I encourage you to book another session in 6 months, but only if you think it will be helpful.
Contact me now to schedule your session. I work with clients all over the world so we will find a time that will work for your time zone.

{Mindset} Establish your personal policies, or decide once

A few months ago on the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast (episode 296 – 21 October 2020), one of the topics was about establishing a personal policy. I loved this podcast episode because it was a reminder to me that

  • I have personal policies
  • I’m happier when I heed them
  • We all have some things we do that make sense to us

It reminded me of the Lazy Genius, Kendra Adachi’s book, The Lazy Genius Way, which I read and loved last year.

One of her principles is to Decide Once.

Decide once is setting a personal policy.

In Lazy Genius language, I decided once that I don’t attend baby showers so it’s an easy decision when I receive an invite to politely decline the invite.

About a month ago, Kendra put up a post inviting people to post how they decide once. The 1744 comments are GOLD. A couple that I love are:

one lady does all phone calls on Thursday mornings only. Genius – you don’t have to have phone dread because you know you’ll take care of things on Thursdays.

another lady changes her contact lenses every time she gets her monthlies so she doesn’t have to remember.

some people have the same gift they give to teachers or for new baby gifts.

The reason I like personal policies is because I love boundaries.

I like people boundaries and I like things boundaries.

Some people boundaries:

  • I don’t attend baby showers. I buy a gift but I hate all the ladies playing silly games (at least that’s how it goes around here).
  • During Covid, I will only meet up with people outside. All book clubs are outside or on Zoom, and when people have come over, we’re outside too.
  • My kids can only have playdates on Friday afternoons. It’s a set time for them so they don’t have to ask continually “can X come over?” They know Friday is the day and arrange their schedules accordingly.

Some things boundaries:

  • If something doesn’t fit in the space, it’s time to declutter until the things fit comfortably again.
  • I decided once what I wanted to save every month, set up an automatic payment and I don’t have to think about it again. When my salary increases, I increase the payment a bit, but that’s the extent of my thinking about money.
  • I have a standard bring-along to a meal if we are invited over to friends. I say, “I’ll bring a chicken” and I bring a rotisserie chicken from a nearby bakery. I also get them to cut it up for me so it’s easy to just arrange on a platter.

Over to you:

Can you name some of your personal policies?

If you honestly don’t have any, where could you incorporate a couple to make your life run more smoothly?

{planning} Let’s do our quarterly planning together

Here we stand at the start of a new, fresh, shiny quarter. If 2021 didn’t start as you wanted, you can let the first quarter go with all the expectations you had for it and just dive into this new quarter.

I spoke before about how and why I love quarterly planning.

Last quarter (Jan – March) I did my quarterly planning but I kept it in my bullet journal. That was…okay, but more inconvenient as I kept having to flip back and forth in the bullet journal to find my list.

This time I decided to write out my list as I did last year but I would then stick it up on the cupboard door in my study (where I now spend 90% of my time!) so I can see it all the time and take action.

And that’s exactly what I did.

Some things I want to do this quarter:

  1. play more (I’m doing Superhero Photo again – it’s a photo course I did about 8 years ago – I saved the emails and am working through them again)
  2. plan next quarter’s holiday and hopefully a mini-break at the end of the month as it’s our anniversary
  3. get some inexpensive but effective stuff done in the house (paint my downstairs)
  4. do some once-off coaching sessions (see more below)
  5. see more friends than I did last quarter

Now over to you.

What went well last quarter? Can you replicate it again this quarter? What did you specifically do or which things were in place helping you have that success?

What do you want to do differently this quarter? Are you using your tendency to help you get those things done? If you’re not sure how, book your 75-minute Four Tendencies coaching session with me for $75. If you’ve come on one of my workshops, you get $20 off. Paypal me and let’s get your session scheduled. I can’t wait to coach you.

{time} 3 different ways to think about time

Time is so precious. We’ve also all been at different points of the time continuum during the pandemic. Some of us have felt like we have plenty of time to indulge in hobbies; others (me!) are working all the hours just to keep up.

This is not an article on how to create more time but it is meant to provide some food for thought on how you currently are spending your time:

1. What are your top time priorities?

Yes, the answer to this question changes from life stage to life stage and most definitely during the pandemic. My top three priorities have been my own and my family’s health (both physical and mental), managing my work responsibilities and retaining a semblance of myself with things that are fun for me. Included are eating, sleeping, managing stress, and exercising well. I don’t sleep well if I worry too much about work and I’m not in a great space mentally if I don’t also do fun things for me, so they all tie together.

Can you identify your top time priorities?

If we’re not intentional about our time and how we spend it, I promise you others will fill it up with their priorities. Interestingly, these two things are almost never the same. See full caption from Instagram here.


2. Is your time spent in alignment with those priorities?

If you look over your week or month, does your time spent look like you’re prioritising the correct things? It’s okay if it doesn’t currently align, but at least you now have the awareness.

How will you know that things are not aligned? You can’t find anything in your schedule that aligns with your priorities. Maybe you do find your priorities on your schedule but there’s not enough time allocated, e.g. exercise or hobbies or fun? What are you dreaming about at night? That’s also a signal you’re not dealing with things during your waking hours.

Where do you feel out of alignment?


3. Which time statement do you find yourself saying to yourself or others? Consider these two sentence pairs.

a) I have to
…. feels like you have no choice while I get to…. feels like you have made the choice to do it. The second statement is more empowering.

Example: I have to make the kids’ lunches (sounds like a chore) vs I get to make the kids’ lunches (feels to me like an act of service/ love). Another very relevant one during Covid: I have to work late (you have no choice in the matter)  vs I get to work late (I have the luxury of no commute so I can put in an extra hour or two occasionally).

b) I don’t have time feels disempowering while it’s not a priority for me right now feels like a carefully-considered time choice.

I get how the second statement can feel awkward sometimes but it’s kinder than not being honest with yourself and others. Brene Brown says “clear is kind” and it feels very kind to me to say honestly if something isn’t a priority in your life at this time.

How has your thinking changed?

{goals} My quarterly goals update

Gosh, we’re one week out from the end of March which means it’s time to review our quarterly goals and set some new ones.

First , a review in case you missed it earlier on the blog:

Quarterly planning
Monthly planning

What went well for me this quarter?

  1. Exercise – regularly doing Zumba twice weekly and my Barre class started up again mid-Feb
  2. My #read21in2021 is going so well. I just set the timer, pick up my non-fiction book and read. I’ve finished nearly 8 books already this quarter (my goal was 6)
  3. House projects – the bathroom reno, fumigator has been, window cleaners are booked for Monday (this is one of those things that people don’t mention when you buy a house on a hill) and we’ve ordered a canvas for our stairwell. 

What could be improved?

  1. I’m still working on setting better boundaries around work
  2. Need to book next holiday so we have something to look forward to
  3. Friend stuff – I can’t build connections via text or whatsapp. I’m phone burnt out 😮 and need to speak on a real phone or look people in the eyes and not via a screen.

How are your quarterly goals looking?

Why don’t you join me and set aside some time in the next week to jot down some goals for the next quarter?

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