I do absolutely love the #oneword movement. It’s far more than a fad to me. It forces me to choose a focus and a motivation all in one word. And for me, choosing my #oneword is serious business. Last year, I got a tattoo of my word Relentless. Nothing says dedication by permanently etching the word into your skin.
Participating in this activity forces me into deep reflection twice a year: once when I choose it, and once at the end when I’m selecting my new one. Did I live up to what I had chosen? Were there times I didn’t? What could I have changed about myself in those moments to live up to my word? For me (and so many others) it’s about more than a tweet declaring your affiliation to one particular word, it’s a mindset…an attitude. What do I want to look like going forward? How can I put that into one word to hold me accountable and keep me inspired?
For me, both personally and professionally, I am more than willing to say goodbye to 2017. It has been a rough year, and I must’ve had a feeling that I was going to need my Relentless #oneword last year because I had no other choice but to be that way or I would have folded several times over. My word crossed my mind every single time that something happened that made me question my abilities to handle whatever situation I was in. I developed a general rule for myself for smaller disappointments: you can feel bad about this for one day, then take control and move ahead. For larger issues, it was what kept me getting up in the morning and facing the day head-on when I wanted to stay in bed under the covers away from the world. Remembering my one word gave me my attitude adjustment over the course of the year. It kept me going in times of difficulty, and in times of calm, it was the catalyst for leaping forward. In some ways, as silly as it sounds, it was my lifeline for remembering who I was and where I was going.
This year, I have given significant thought to my #oneword and it came to me in a lightbulb moment. I’ve used it multiple times when discussing my Hierarchy of Needs for Innovation & Divergent Thinking series, but when it actually dawned on me that this was it, I was thinking of Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”.
I already know that this will be a year, both personally and professionally, where there will be delicate decisions and major changes. But, one thing I’ve learned over the course of my life, that I truly believe, is that nothing worth it is ever easy. So, I’ve decided to go with Divergence as my #oneword2018, knowing that the road less traveled by is the path I want to be on, no matter the difficulty.
The psychological definition of Divergent is: (of thought) using a variety of premises, especially unfamiliar premises, as bases for inference, and avoiding common limiting assumptions in making deductions.
Could there be anything more perfect than that?
By embracing this mindset this year, when making decisions, I will make sure I’m taking in all the possible angles and solutions, including the ones that I am not as familiar with or that make me uncomfortable. I will avoid allowing my assumptions and my unknowns to limit my thinking all the time, but especially in making decisions. In order to make this work, I will need to be more reflective as I look for areas where I might be blinded and places where I might be assuming. I will need to become more comfortable with being uncomfortable (even though I regularly joke that I very nearly live outside my comfort zone), and relentless in the pursuit of learning what is unfamiliar to me. I will recognize and control my fears in the steps and decisions needed to reach my goals. Following this “rule”, my Divergence will allow me to become a better decision-maker both personally and professionally.
I’ve had the opportunity over the holiday break to have moments of reflection that I don’t typically get. I’ve been getting up in the morning before everyone else…sometimes sitting on the couch doing nothing, sometimes cruising through Twitter, sometimes writing blog posts or working on my book, but always thinking. It felt amazing, and it gave me the chance to go into the next year with a new attitude. And if you’re discussing strictly education, going back with a calmer heart to what is going to be a chaotic beginning of the year in my department is imperative. But overall, the time has allowed me the chance to really consider my #oneword for 2018, Divergence, and hopefully, that will make all the difference.