For many years, I’ve heard about people who choose a word to be the anthem for their years. I’ve read about it in books, heard about in podcasts, and watched webinars about why it’s a powerful process. I’ve flirted with idea of choosing a word, but, until this year, I’ve never done it. Choosing a word to focus on for the year makes sense to me because I do know that we get what we think about.
It’s just that choosing one word has always felt intimidating to me. You know how when you start thinking about doing something new, you’re nervous and excited at the same time? Maybe your bestie has told you that this class was a life changer, or that diet was the one that finally helped a friend of a friend get their weight under control, or that particular documentary on PBS really opens your mind up to new possibilities? And you keep thinking about going, or doing, or watching but you just can’t bring yourself to do it – yet?
I can do this.
Well, my yet finally arrived. I had been thinking about choosing a word for a couple of weeks and could not decide which word to choose – grace, persistence, motivate, create, listen, deliver – the list went on and on. And then my word found me. Sneaky word!
It found me on Facebook. Really. Not kidding at all. I was checking my Facebook feed to see how some of my posts were doing (ha! I was really looking at pictures of my friends’ babies) when I came across a post from Dan Rather, former anchorman at CBS News. I don’t always read his posts, but I did that day. And that day Dan was talking about staying steady as we move through turbulent times – staying steady in our beliefs and steady in our actions.
I was so struck by the word steady that I didn’t read the whole post. I even forgot to save it so I could find it again (like now). Steady – the word kept doing laps in my brain. I grabbed hold of it thinking, “This is what I need. It’s what I want to be – steady.” Steady work, steady progress.
Or can I?
However, there was a problem. Every single time I thought about or tried to stay steady out loud, the word settle came up instead. When I pulled out my laptop to start on this post, I typed in the title “My Word of the Year: Settle” and it took me a full 10 minutes to realize what I’d done.
I’ve been engaged in a full on wrestling match with these two words. The thing is, when you choose a word for your year, it’s supposed to be uplifting. It can also serve as a challenge, as when someone chooses the word joy or gratitude and accepts the challenge of living into the words and finding the words manifested in their worlds.
So you can imagine how much it disturbed me that I couldn’t bring my word – the emblem of my new year, the idea I chose to embrace for the next 365 days – to mind without stumbling past settle first. I do understand why I’m struggling with steady – it’s why I chose it. It’s a reach – a challenge to myself.
There’s a disconnect here.
My struggle comes from a basic disconnect between how the world sees me and how I see me. It looks like I work steadily. Every week I write a post for this blog and record at least one podcast episode; I post to Facebook, and run meetings on a regular basis. People know they can count on me. Sounds pretty steady, doesn’t it? What many people don’t see is how I produce this work – and, trust me, it’s not a steady process.
For example, I publish my blog post on Sundays. Well…it’s 8:45 Sunday morning as I write this. And I’m just now writing it. I’m a last minute person. I do some of my best work at the last minute.
…as I’m writing this, I’m picturing my process for writing posts. Creating an editorial calendar (a list of topics organized by week) has never worked for me. Instead, I select what to write based on what’s going on with my clients that week or what’s flying around in my head. Those ideas and thoughts percolate in my head all week (or all month or however long it takes to deliver a topic from my brain to my fingers). Then I sit down to write and I’m off to the races.
What is steady?
I’ve never thought of that as steady. Do you think it’s because I’m looking at the process rather than the product? So, when I think of steady, I find myself thinking that I’m settling for being someone else – someone who schedules everything else and follows a calendar and a format? That, if I think about working steadily, I’d be working the way all those people say I should work?
Then I got smart. I talked about my quandary with Diana, my partner in crime on our podcast, about my struggles. She pointed out that perhaps I chose steady because I haven’t felt steady in a while. I’ve been like a toddler learning how to work walk. Over the last 5 years, the seismic changes in my life including widowhood, starting my own business, challenges with my health, and with my kids have contributed to me feeling like I’m tottering. Maybe choosing the word steady has to do with my longing for a feeling of steadiness in my life.
This raises the question of why my snake brain (aka reptilian brain) substitutes settle for steady. So, of course, I googled reptilian brain. Check out what came up: The reptilian brain … controls the body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. Balance. There’s the Universe telling me “Hey Becky, we got you girl.” Balance.
Could it be that it’s hard to find my balance since I don’t feel steady on my feet? That I need to settle down so that I can feel steady?
One of the things that gets between me and making steady progress is my reaction to perceived setbacks. When I encounter a setback, I stall – sometimes for a couple of weeks, sometime for several months. In my business, this always plays out in marketing. I’ve written before about how the slow payoff for most marketing campaigns trips me up from the inception of the campaign.
I wait to start the campaign until the last minute which doesn’t give people enough time to digest the opportunity I’m presenting to them. Which makes it look like the campaign failed, which may or may not be true. When I don’t get enough people for a class right off the bat, I stop. I don’t think about tweaking my efforts, or trying for longer, I stop.
I will stay steady in my beliefs.
And it’s just now, as I’m writing this, that I fully understand that stopping like that contradicts my belief that I’m offering what people want (and have asked for). Since I stop the campaign, I keep myself from reaping the benefits of steadily executing on a marketing campaign. And I deny people the opportunity to participate in the events I’m marketing.
In January and February, I am challenging myself to stay steady in these beliefs: (1) I understand my market – those women who want to return to work but are overwhelmed at the prospect, (2) I can help them these women cut through the overwhelm as they move toward their next opportunities, and (3) my Career Bootcamp is the right opportunity for them at the right time.
To manifest these beliefs, I will steadily market the Women’s Career Bootcamp and embrace what I learn from the marketing campaign. Being steady does not mean I’m settling. Instead, it means that I am committed to living out and delivering on my core beliefs and my mission: I am here to help women reach the potential they’re afraid to admit that they have.
Steady as she goes.