guiding word, productivity, self-help, inspiration, self talk
Workbook Articles

Choose a Guiding Word for Yourself

We’ve talked a lot about setting goals, and making plans to put small steps into your planning each week. This way you are always making progress towards the things that are important to you. Another way that you can make sure that you have a focus on what kinds of things you want to strive towards. To do this you can choose a guiding word that you can work on for a set amount of time. Sometimes people choose a guiding word to cover a whole year instead of making the traditional resolutions. I decided to come up with a guiding word to work on for the next 3 months. The nice thing about a guiding word is that it can be a single concept that can apply to a lot of different things in your life.

For example, if you were to choose the word “health” this could be used to support your physical health. It could also be used for the health of your business or career, or to mentally develop a healthy self-image, and even a healthy balance of work and life. So one single word can have a lot of impact on your thought process when you are going about planning your day or week to make sure that you are moving in a good direction.

So how do you go about finding this special word to keep in mind?

What do you want to create?

As we think about creating a life that is good and comfortable, what kind of person do you want to improve yourself to be? What type of environment do you want to create that will surround you in opportunities to get more out of life? How do you picture your life 1, 2 or 5 years from today? Make a list of attributes that will help you to clarify what you are trying to create.

What words describe the Qualities needed?

Start brainstorming a list of words that can describe what qualities are important to make this change in your life. During the brainstorm there are no wrong words. You can include action words like grow, finish, heal, or release. You can also include description words like balanced or creative. Set an amount of time for you to brainstorm, and start writing and let one word lead to another idea. It’s okay to have similar words because they may have different meanings when you apply them to different areas of your life.  I decided to go for 20 minutes and I had a nice list of words to think about for the next step.

Pick your guiding word

Take a little bit of time after creating your list, I choose to do this next step the following day so the words would feel new when I really sat down to think about them. Now read through your list and circle the words that truly resonate with you. Do you see a pattern emerging with the items you circled? If a group of words have a similar theme, is there a different word that could encompass them all? Or is one of the words on your list a true winner? Once you have selected your single word, go ahead and put it in a prominent place so you can keep it in your mind. If you always have your phone in hand, consider making a graphic with your word so each time you turn on your phone it is reminding you. Or, put a message on a mirror that you use so that you start each day centering yourself around your word.

Use your word in important life areas

Now that you’ve chosen your word, think about ways that you can use it to improve the main categories of your life:

  • Health
  • Attitude and Outlook
  • Time Management
  • Community
  • Important Relationships (significant other, family, children, etc)
  • Self-Esteem
  • Money Management
  • Energy

As your determined time-frame goes on, you will find more ways that your guiding word will fit into your goals. I hope you have fun with this exercise, and see lots of opportunities to tie the various areas of your life into a united goal. Please feel free to leave your comments below.



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  1. Interesting perspective. It’s always a great idea to have a goal in mind and this seems like a simple way to keep your eye on your goal.

    1. drriehl says:

      I hope you have fun finding the right word for you!

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