A Wholistic Approach to One Word
Are you familiar with the practice of using One Word for the year?
Many find this tool more helpful than New Year’s resolutions which can fall by the wayside within a few weeks or months. The idea is that your One Word guides and teaches you throughout the course of a full year. Based on the easy-to-read book, One Word that will Change your Life, by Gordon, Britton, and Page, the practice is simple yet highly impactful. Now in my 7th year using the One Word practice, I have decided to take a Wholistic approach to the practice. This means I will consider my One Word through the four perspectives of wholeness; heart, mind, body, and spirit.
Allow me to explain this approach using my one word from last year as an example.
My word for 2018 was Beloved and it has taught me a great deal in the past 12 months. I like to reflect on the lessons learned before I move on to another word for the New Year.
Heart: As you might imagine, the word Beloved was relatively easy to experience on a heart level. I paid close attention to the inward and outward dimensions of it. Inward meant noticing what it feels like to be someone’s Beloved; to be the recipient of their love and attention. Outward meant noticing what it feels like to show others that they are Beloved to me. 2018 was a significant year as I married my longtime sweetheart, Greg. I had the opportunity to give and receive love in new ways as I committed the rest of my life to this Beloved man and to our blended families. In addition, the year offered significant lessons as I walked, (and continue to walk) a journey through the diagnosis of a terminal illness with a Beloved brother-in-law and sister. This word taught me anew not to take the people I love for granted. You can read more about these heart lessons in Be Loved, My Beloved.
Mind: When I thought about the word Beloved, I immediately went to the dictionary to learn its official definition. Webster’s tells us that it means ‘dearly loved, or dear to the heart’. No surprise there. I am aware who is dear to my heart, as I imagine you are, too. However, I cannot help but wonder how well I express that ‘dearness’ to those who are Beloved to me. Like many, I often get caught up in the busyness of life and focus on completing the tasks that make up my work and life activities. I believe that what we focus on grows, so when I focus on accomplishing tasks, I must admit that I get a lot done and feel satisfaction from my efforts. However, something is lost when I allow myself to focus solely on my ‘to-do list’. I lose the being part of me. I have learned this year to focus more on being with those I love. I have prioritized quality time with those dear to me and have built a wealth of joyful memories as a result of that prioritization. I still get my work and life tasks done, but there is a better balance now as I try to make sure those who are dear to me know just how much I treasure them.
Body: I was surprised at what I found when I looked at my word Beloved from a physical perspective. Similar to what I learned from the heart and mind dimensions, I noticed that it had to do with taking people for granted. In this case, however, it was my own health and well-being that I took for granted. I tend to assume that my body will function how I need it to each day. It isn’t until I get sick or injure myself that I realize just how precious a healthy body is. I am in awe of the physical design and intricate systems of the human body. I consider my body a gift from my Creator. I see that gift as a Temple and feel a responsibility to maintain my health in optimal condition so that I can be (and do) all that I am called to be and do. Early in 2018, I was motivated to treat my body very well as I prepared for our wedding. During the first half of the year, I was a healthy eater, exercised more than ever before, got plenty of sleep, and generally practiced excellent self-care. After the wedding, however, I took a break from those good habits and I am still trying to get back to them 6 months later. I admit that self-care can be hard for me. I’ve had a lifelong tendency to focus on others more than on myself. According to Gallup’s Strengths Finder, my leadership style is ‘Relationship Building’ and I agree completely. I love people; whether at work or at play I am fascinated by human interactions. This year I added a new tool to my personal development with the Enneagram assessment, an ancient typology of nine interconnected personality types. According to the assessment, I am a 2, which is known as The Helper. It confirmed yet again that I am hardwired to focus on others. I am designed this way. My word Beloved, when focused inward, reminds me to incorporate self-care with the care of others. It is absolutely necessary to take care of my body and health in order to be the giver that I am designed to be.
Spirit: To be honest, I was somewhat uncomfortable when the word Beloved first resonated with me early in 2018. It is not a word that I use in everyday speech, so it felt a bit awkward. My use of it was infrequent and, even then, it was in written form. It is a word that I usually see in my favorite Good Book, so I have thought of it as a spiritual word. I can almost hear God’s voice saying, “This is my Beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” It felt like too grand of a word for me. It was a word to describe the Son of God, not Carol Sue. But because the One Word practice comes from God/Spirit I felt compelled to pursue it this past year. I delighted in highlighting Beloved whenever it appeared in my daily devotionals. Unlike my other yearly theme words, this word has not appeared very often in conversations, on posters or coffee mugs or in songs, but it has appeared often in my devotional readings. There has been a wonderful spiritual connection whenever I have read the word Beloved because I can almost hear God saying it…and that brings me joy. I have also been reminded that one of the names for the Holy Spirit is The Helper. This reminder encourages me to trust that there is a Force greater than I which helps those in need. I can relax and not spread myself so thin by quickly swooping in with assistance. I prayerfully ask the Spirit to guide me every day in offering my help. I have learned that spiritually guided help is much more effective and less exhausting in the long run. I use the prayer that I wrote in my book, Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith, each day to orient and ground me:
Dear God, be personal and present with me today; Be my best friend. Help me see how you are guiding and providing for me; Holy Spirit, You lead. Continue to heal my heart swiftly and silently so that I can be all that you created me to be; Make me whole. Amen.
As I ask God to guide me each day, I embrace in a trusting relationship with my Creator. I feel connected and sense when my actions are in alignment with the Spirit.
I share this example of a Wholistic Approach to One Word because I find that it adds a deeper dimension to my yearly word practice. I encourage you to try it as well. If you are new to the One Word practice, I suggest that you read the book mentioned above and find a Stretch Team to discuss your word with throughout the year.
Women in the surrounding Frederick area are invited to join me for an evening retreat about the Wholistic Approach to One Word on January 30th from 5:30-7:30 pm. Click here for more details and registration information.
A second invitation is to join a One Word Coaching Group offered by the Wholistic Coaching Coalition. These small groups are open to women and men and will meet conveniently via Zoom calls in February and March to get you off to a great start with your One Word for 2019. Click here for more details.
Feel free to comment here with your thoughts and questions.
Today’s author: Carol deLaski, PCC, is a strengths-based executive leadership coach who guides individuals and businesses to be their best. For more information about her coaching services, and her book Lost and Found: Discovering Strength in Love and Faith, visit www.caroldelaski.com or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org