As this crazy year winds down, I find myself looking back on the year that has been and what the following year may bring.  It provides a time to look at both my personal and business life and examine what worked or did not work in the prior year and examine the opportunities that lie ahead.  In past years, I have typically put together both personal and professional goals for the upcoming year.  However, I have never been someone who has done a New Year’s resolution.

One of the things that happens as we set goals or resolutions, me included, is that these often do not get accomplished.  Our follow-through doesn’t happen for any number of reasons, usually it can be traced back to commitment and discipline. The other primary reason is that we have no purpose for why we want to attain the goal. The purpose is the “why” we are pursuing the goal.  Figure out your “why” and you will be more likely to achieve you goal.


I decided to try something new last year.  As I was thinking about some of my goals for 2020, I pulled a book from my bookshelf that I had read a few years ago but had not tried.  The book is titled One Word That Will Change Your Life.

The concept of the book is simple.  Instead of trying to come up with goals that can be hard to define and that often fade away early in the new year, choose one word. We don’t reach our success for any number of reasons. The fatal flaw of our well-intentioned goals is that we can reach our goals simply with more effort, willpower, and setting goals.  We are convinced that with more work we can reach our resolutions and goals. It creates a yearly cycle of try and fail.  Two steps forward, one step back.  One step forward, two steps back.  We end up not accomplishing what we wanted or expected.

One particularly important point the authors present is: “we set to-do goals instead of setting to-be goals.”

Finding your one word provides a simple, laser-like focus and driving force for each of the six dimensions of our lives: spiritual, physical, mental, relational, emotional, and financial.  The word you choose can revolve around one or multiple aspects of your life that you want to improve, or feel is out of balance.

Words are powerful.  You have probably heard someone say something that either affected you in a profoundly positive or negative way. The words we feel affect our attitude, the way we speak, what’s in our heart, our relationships, and our thoughts and actions.  The one word you find for yourself will change these and other ways and provide clarity and focus to what you want to attain.  We live in a busy, time-crunched world that requires some clarity and focus to point us in a positive direction.  One that removes the noise and provides meaning to what we are trying to accomplish. One word can do this.

So, you are probably asking at this point how to come up with your one word. Without giving away the entire book- you need to read it to get the entire message from the authors, I will provide the questions to ask yourself to help decide what your one word will be.

Answer the following questions:

What do I need?

What’s in my way?

What needs to go?

Create a quiet space and time with no distractions, away from the busyness of your life. The book goes on to explain how to live your word.  Living out your word is the exciting part of the process.


Going through this process for myself, I kept coming back to a word that will help provide clarity and direction for me in the coming year.

My word for the year (drum roll please!) is…………BULLISH.

The definition of BULLISH (Merriam Webster): marked by, tending to cause, or hopeful of rising prices (as in a stock market) AND optimistic about something’s or someone’s prospects.  I think both definitions can be applied to our lives. If you swap out “rising prices (as in stock market)” and insert something like “marked by, tending to cause, or hopeful of improved life for myself (personal and business goals), both definitions apply.

I selected this word for three reasons based on the questions above-none of them related to my thoughts on the stock market!  First, this year has been hellish in several respects- fear and uncertainty topped the list for me-brought about by Covid-19, political discourse (negativity), and economic and business uncertainty. Next year has got to feel less unsettled, more positive and trending upward- more BULLISH! And hopefully, is a year that is back to being closer to normal-a year with less change and one where we can do more and be more.  This year has got to go.

Second, I want to be more have more focused direction by sorting out what is really important to me and what this leads me in terms of work and life interests. This is what is in my way. This requires being BULLISH.  From trying a few new things this year, writing a whitepaper, and doing additional reading and research on retirement coaching, I believe there are better ways for me to use my skills and interests to benefit advisors and their clients. There are a few ways to do this that have been identified.  I want to continue to define this direction in the coming year (this was one of my goals last year too).

Third, I want to be BULLISH on my business by identifying how to extend the reach of retirement coaching to financial advisors and their clients. This is what I need to do- where my thoughts and focus needs to be each and every day.

Update added after the blog was posted: I came across this article by Simon Sinek that adds another way describing why I am bullish for 2021. Great perspective after a difficult 2020.

Identifying the one word in our lives can be valuable in helping us find direction. This is particularly true during our time in retirement.  Retirement, for many, is a huge transition filled with uncertainty and change.  Finding your one word before, during, and after this transition can provide clarity and focus for navigating your future.


If you are thinking about retirement, or have started your journey into retirement, consider identifying your one word.  This may help you find your path during your Encore.

Let me know if you select a word and how living the word is going.  I’d also like to hear if you have tried this in the past and how it worked for you.  Send me a note to Reid@MyLifesEncore.com

Identify one word that inspires you in 2021!