One word for the year exercise with Gagan Sarkaria

Do you have one word you select each year? The One Word For the year exercise is a powerful exercise that adds value to your business goals and outlines a step-by-step process to achieving them with a soulful theme that resonates with you.

This video was originally recorded for private clients. Many have found this exercise helpful in staying focused, inspired and on track. Grab your journal or a notepad and a pen to take some notes, and follow along!

What is the one word for the year exercise?

A lot of my clients are wrapping up the year and reflecting on their accomplishments, what they have been challenged by and how they are going to take this new journey into the new year.

This post will walk you through this entire process of what the one word for the year exercise really means, how you do it, and what kind of struggles or challenges you might face when you’re doing it, and also what it will bring in the new year.

You may have heard a lot about it or you probably do something similar to this assignment, but I want to share how I do it and why I feel it is an important element in your growth.

So if you are a determined entrepreneur and you want to go to the next level of your business, no matter what level or stages of a business you are in, whether you are in the:

  • startup phase,
  • ramp-up phase,
  • buildup phase,
  • expansion phase.

At this time of the year, where we are wrapping up the energy of the current year and we are super excited about what the new year is going to be like if you are as creative as I am or you consider yourself as a determined entrepreneur, and you have all this creativity and enthusiasm inside, sometimes what happens is we can get overwhelmed with all this flow of creativity and the excitement that we have as we wrap up the current year and we are ready to jump into the next one.

There can be a feeling of overwhelm, lack of focus, or you can be simply distracted.


3 reasons why you should do the one word for the year exercise

Reason 1: Overwhelm

First reason, what a lot of entrepreneurs forget is if you take a break, the business takes a break. So the exercises I do with my coaching clients really help live in the moment, but also celebrate all we have done in the year, but also not forget where we are going for the next year.

So overwhelm is one thing. So if you feel that you get overwhelmed or get distracted, this exercise will help you.

Reason 2: Personal Growth

The second reason why I stress on creating a one-word for the year exercise for my clients is that you want to prioritize your personal world. This one-word for the year exercise helps you do that. Why? Because the journey that we embark with the anchoring of our one-word concept or the one-word we come up with for the year, that journey is going to anchor my happiness, that journey is going to create my fulfillment, and it’s also going to redefine my purpose. Now the purpose doesn't get changed if you know what your purpose is in your business, in your relationships, in your life, the purpose it doesn't change, but it gets redefined. What it means is that it flourishes, it kind of unfolds on this journey of personal growth.

That personal growth concept driven by this one-word for the year is critical to our success in business and in life. So I really feel that this one-word as you can anchor it in, it will drive your growth, it will drive your revenue, it will help you become who you are. it is very important to know who you are going to become in this process because that is going to define the next phase of your growth.

Reason 3: Direction for your growth

The third reason and I think this is also a very important factor is that this one-word for the year is going to create a direction for your growth, for your business, that direction helps you get aligned and not waste time.

There are a lot of things that are thrown at us as women, as entrepreneurs, as solopreneurs, as somebody who is trying to stabilize how they’re going to build their empire with grace and ease! There are a lot of things that happen and we end up juggling a lot of balls. I think as you juggle different responsibilities, you can come across different opportunities, or different tasks, or different stuff that happens or situations that can waste your time.

As an entrepreneur, and as a mother, or as somebody who is focused on expansion or building a solid business and life in the community, it is important for you not to waste time and be totally in alignment with what that is for your business. I think this one-word really helps you flourish and helps you be on the right path for yourself. The main tool, which is this one-word for the year process, surprisingly doesn’t come from different technological advancements, or apps that we have access to, or different platforms, or flip charts, or spreadsheets, or revenue processes — nothing. It is a very soulful process. So what I would recommend is you take a sheet of paper and just ask the soul to guide you what that one-word is going to be.


How to discover your one word for the year?

You can meditate about it as I do. I invite the concept of what that one word for the year is going to be for my new year into my kind of everyday concept as I’m wrapping up, and it usually happens after Christmas for me. Even if I wanted to do it before Christmas, it doesn’t happen because there is so much excitement in the environment.

I start inviting different words into my life and ask the universe, and my guides, and the higher powers, whatever you believe in, you tap into your spirituality and you ask for guidance.

You allow that one word for the year, to become your primary self-coaching tool, to come to you and just wait. It could sometimes take you a day or two, or if you pray about it right before you are showing your gratitude before you go to bed and ask for guidance, it could show up in your dreams, it could show up in your meditation times, it could just flat out be in your face and you would know that it’s YOUR one word for the year!


Deeper dive to finding your one word

There are two exercises I do that help me get to that point.

One is called the SWOT Analysis. As an acronym, it stands for, Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. I take this concept and do the analysis from two different perspectives.

Imagine that you are in the present moment, you know, at the tail end of the year, and you are doing the SWOT analysis of your current year looking backward.

Make sure you have a journal to write on or loose sheets of paper.

The SWOT analysis question, the first part is, what were my strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats for this year? Standing where you are today in the current moment, at the tail end of the year, look back and assess yourself from January till December.

  • What were your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses?
  • What were your opportunities?
  • And what were you scared of?
  • What were the threats that could literally shatter you or that would challenge you more?

The reason for doing this from this past tense aspect is because you’ve already lived it. And that is going to actually give you a total analysis of what this year looked like for you, and where you are today so that you can write your accomplishments.

It's a very humbling exercise because what you thought on January 1st or the first quarter of this year if it was a struggle some quarter, now you can look back and say, "Wow, I actually accomplished all that." So that's one aspect of the exercise.

The second part of the exercise is the future aspect. So standing where you are, knowing what you know, then the second question becomes,

  • what are my strengths?
  • What are my weaknesses?
  • What are my opportunities?
  • And what are my threats?

Going into the new year. Write it down so you can divide your page into four sections, or you can take four sheets of paper and just dump whatever comes to you. Now you have the past, you have your accomplishments, and you have the future. Make sense?

So think of this as the plane with two wings, the past and the future wing, and you are in the present, the body of the airplane, and you're going to take off.

So what is going to pull you forward? What is going to be that push to help you take off into the next year? That push, that is going to energize you, is also going to pull you up during those moments of challenges or struggles. That is one word.

What Does Your One Word Look Like?

So let me share with you a little bit of what that one word should look like or is. Well, that one word is not what your head tells you that, "Oh my one word should be blah, blah, blah, blah", no. The one word actually comes from your soul, it comes from your heart. It calls you and it pulls you forward. And what this one word of the year needs to be, that thrust for your airplane to take off into the next year.

So it really is supposed to not be a comfort zone for you, it's supposed to be something that challenges you, something that helps you take off, something that is going to help you grow into the next year.

I also sometimes call it that it's the lighthouse of your soul because your soul knows what you need going into the next year, and if you surrender and you let your soul guide you, it is going to come to you. And that one word, when it comes to you, there is the sense of relaxation and calmness that takes over, and you know that that's the word. So just try this exercise and see where it takes you.

So that one word is not what it should be, or it has to be, no. Let the one word choose you rather than you choosing the word. Because when you get into this analytical and logical aspect of, "Oh no, I don't like that word", that's your ego. That's your head, or your personality talking about it. But if you let the word come to you, and even if you have to sleep on it, if it calms you down, even if you don't know what it means, how it's going to unfold the next year for you, how it's going to tap into that growth aspect of you, just trust the process. Let it guide you.

And, you may not understand today why that word is coming to you, but 12 months into the game you will understand why. Because it is there for your growth. It helps you unfold your own success. And when you step back and surrender, and let the soul guide you, because the soul is the CEO of your business and life, so if you let the soul guide you it will not fail you.

It will never fail you if you choose to listen. Now, if you feel a disconnect, the disconnect usually happens when your head, which is your personality, the ego, and your heart, which is the seat of your soul, when the head and the heart are not in alignment, that's where the disconnect is. If you feel the disconnect, take a deep breath and ask the soul to guide you.

And you can talk about your word, you could write about your word, you could journal with your word, to see how you feel and listen to your body. If you calm yourself down and you are in that space of silence where you can actually feel how your body is responding to a different vibration, the energy of these words, let's say you had instead of one word you had three or four and you are struggling to pick the right one. If you calm yourself down and you understand that each word has a vibration, and your body, your soul, is going to respond to the vibration of that word, it would actually be very helpful to tap into that energy and see which one you get attracted to. Because the right word will attract two more. And you may not understand why, but that is going to be the right word.

Now, if you are somebody like me who will have more than one word, I would recommend that you really nail it down to get it to be one word. It's very important that it is one word, not a tagline, not a mantra for the year, but one word.

If you are going to work on this assignment and you come up with the word by January 1st or the first week of the year, let's say you have your one word, that one word is going to be the lighthouse of your first quarter for sure. It is going to guide you.

Using Your One Word For The Year

Now, look at this one word as the main umbrella, the main theme for your year, alright? And there are four quarters of the year. So the first quarter it's really going to anchor in if you really allow it to. And then what will happen is, and this is my experience for years doing this, by the tail end of the first quarter, your soul's going to guide you to have a sub-theme or another word as a lesson you're supposed to learn for your second quarter. And then by the end of the second quarter, your soul is going to guide you with a third word, which is going to be a sub-theme for the third quarter and the fourth quarter, going into the fourth quarter.

So what happens is if you trust this process and you let this word guide you, it will not only save you time and energy, but it will also help you grow. It will create a very solid foundation for the elevation of your next year, life and business. And the sub-themes that come in, they are going to unfold your success even more, but they will be totally in alignment with your main word, one word of the year.

So trust the process. Write it down. If you are anxious about other words, just follow the process and see what happens for you. The second thing I want you to know is that in order for you to really take in all the benefits that this one word creates for you, you have to understand that the decision of creating this one word actually comes from your head.

But the commitment to follow through and embrace all the energy of this one word comes from your heart. So you make the decision with your head and you commit with your heart. And when you are in alignment with your head and your heart that you have decided and you've committed to embracing the energy of your word, it's going to open up different portals of possibilities for you. You may not understand that today, or even the first month into the next year, but by the first quarter, you will understand that.

So, sub-themes are possible. Sometimes they won't show up if this is your first time doing a one-word exercise. And that's totally okay. So don't worry that "Oh my gosh, Gagan said there'll be sub-themes and I don't have a sub-theme", no. Everybody's on their own journey. And you take a deeper dive with your own soul and your soul is going to guide to where it needs to be. And I'm here. So if you need to talk about it or you need more advice, I'm here.

So tip number two, no word is a right or a wrong word. No word is the best word, or no word is, "Oh my gosh, that's a dumb word", no. So, just trust that this word is for you and it's going to bring immense clarity for you, especially in the first six months, for sure. Sometimes it happens in 21 days, sometimes it happens in 90 days, sometimes it happens in 180 days. You know, everybody is on their own journey. But if you trust and surrender into the process, it actually helps you expand and grow.

A couple of years ago, one of my words was “focus. And it was chosen from the context that I had parted ways with a major client of mine and I wanted to reengage into my own business and take my business to the next level.

I had been using the one-word concept at a surface level for years, but I really wanted to take a deeper dive. “Focus” was the one word that kept coming back. When I trusted the process and focused, and embraced the energy of the word into my eight months, because the first couple of months were gone, I was surprised for all I accomplished. And I've never looked back.

I really believe if you embrace the energy of the words, the intention behind it and fill it with your commitment, it really opens amazing portals of possibilities for you. You're guided by the right energies, you're guided by your coaches and mentors and your spirits. So, it's just a beautiful process.

An issue of resistance

Then tip number three I want to share with you is if you catch yourself saying that, "Oh my gosh, this is not the right word. Oh my gosh, if I shared it with my spouse or my team members, what are they going to think about it?" Just remember that's not your soul talking, that is your ego talking and it is trying to create resistance. It's not a misalignment issue, it's the issue of resistance.

So if you feel resistance, remember that that is the right word for you and you're not supposed to judge. You're just supposed to surrender. And sometimes it's not easy for us to do that. Our ego will not allow us to surrender. But you know what? Ego is ours too and we know how to tame it.

So be bold, be brave, and have the courage to ask your ego to shut up and let me embrace the energy of this word. So that surrendering process is also letting the universe know that you're ready to take in whatever that new growth, new year and the new word is going to bring you.

It's totally okay to not understand it all the way through. Let some mystery be there, but infuse it with your faith and trust in this process. If you do, you're going to have some really brilliant surprises in the next year.

Move Forward and Choose Growth

It's not going to be an easy journey, because the word is supposed to challenge you. What does that mean? Well, if it doesn't challenge you, that means you are in a comfortable zone. And growth does not happen when you are in a comfortable space. Growth is supposed to happen only when something is ignited inside you or around in your environment. It's supposed to challenge and give birth to growth.

So just like the old saying goes that, change is the only thing that is constant, but growth is optional. And I'm asking you to choose growth. Because whether you want it or not, something inside you is going to change, and that change is going to be dependent upon how you want to embrace it, and where do you want to take it.

You don't want to just let it happen and then there's another year gone, and another season of your life changes, and you don't even take advantage of it. Or you are not intentional enough, bold enough, courageous enough to take the bull by the horns and direct to where you really want to take it. And if you don't know where that is, that's totally okay, let your soul guide you.

When you share it with others, you will just feel it from inside. It just mesmerizes you, but it also magnetizes other people. You have to just be sensitive enough to the energy that this word brings into your life and guides you to go to the next level of your business.

Getting Your One Word to Work for You

So how are you going to use this one word once you have it? So let me recap. You're going to:

  • do a SWOT analysis, the past tense, then the present tenses. Write down your accomplishments, then the SWOT analysis of the next year. Use your intellectual faculties, use your head, look at the facts, look at what all you've done, where your revenue numbers are, what you've accomplished in the business, where do you want to go?
  • invite the one word to choose you because now you want to take a very energetic approach to the growth of your business. Once you have the one word and you know what that one word is, write it down.

Now, how are you going to use one word? What does that really mean?

There are three ways you're going to use this. The first thing you're going to use the word of the year to grow you. Not your business, not your marriage, not a life, nothing. Because of all those different aspects, all those different relationships, are an extension of you. So the focus needs to be on you. So if you focus on your growth and elevation, everything else will be a byproduct of that growth.

So first thing, you're going to use this word to grow you. You can get scared and say, "Oh my gosh, I don't know what that means." That's really okay. Sometimes I don't know it either. But you have to trust.

And, if you are struggling to trust, one thing I can say, you can really bet on yourself because you know whether you're going to fail yourself or you're going to push yourself to the next level. And if you are one of those people who deep down keeps saying, "I'm going to fail", or "I don't know what I'm going to do", or "I don't know what this means", that's the energy that you're attracting.

So there's a shift in self-talk. It's okay that I don't know what I need to do today. Tomorrow I will know. And somebody's going to come and tell you what that means. Maybe in meditation, you might get the answer, maybe in one of our coaching sessions, you might get the answer, but trust the process. You're not alone. Your guides are here.

So first thing, you're going to use this one word to grow. The second thing you're going to do is you're going to embrace changes. You're going to use it on a daily basis.

What does that mean? One of the questions I really like is, when I get my one word, I ask what kind of changes I need to make now so I can really flourish into my business or I can flourish into my relationships - or whatever aspect or situation you are in.

Calm yourself down to receive the answers. So it could be:

  • What kind of changes do I need to make in my daily routine?
  • What kind of changes do I need to make in my business?
  • What kind of changes do I need to make in my marketing strategies?
  • How do I need to run my team differently?
  • If you have employees or independent contractors that work for you, how do I need to teach them my priorities?
  • How do I need to change by negotiation skills?

Ask your one word to guide you and write it down so you know what that means.

The few days into the tail end of the year and few days into the next year, that is the prime time for you to sit down and start journaling as to what these questions are, and how the answers are, and what they really mean. Let the ideas start to flow, even if it doesn't make sense. Put on some Chakra music or music you enjoy that calms you down so that you can take 10, 15, 20 minutes here and there.

Within those ideas, you could have some visuals. Who knows? You could go to sleep and you could have a dream and remember it so clearly in the morning. See what kind of changes you're going to bring today into your business, into your life, into your health.

Learn to Let It All Go

Another way you're going to be using this one word is that you're going to let go. It is very hard to do that, but you have to learn to let go.

You need to expect to be challenged and not get frustrated that you don't know what it means. It's totally okay because this word is supposed to challenge you because it's there to help you grow. I feel the challenging aspect is for us to have a leveled playing field so that we don't go spiraling downward. It's just like touching the ground and then taking off again. And it's going to rub you in a way that you are not comfortable or don't like - that's what it is supposed to do.

So I'm just giving you some heads up. It is supposed to challenge you. It has always challenged me, and sometimes I have actually kicked the wall. Just know that it's there for your higher good because that's what the universe wants. That's what the soul wants for you to be in total alignment with your higher power, for your good, and for your growth.

So when I start to get irritated, frustrated or impatient, I know I need to let go. At that moment I have to take a deep breath and I have to tell myself, it's like a self-coaching tool, right?

Take a break. Take deep breaths and let go. And you can ask your divine powers to ask your one word, to show you the light, just like the lighthouse does in the middle of the pitch, dark ocean, and the surroundings, to show you the light. And then guide you.

What is it that you need to let go of? Because it's not in your control. The only thing in your control is how you're going to react and how can you calm yourself down.

Because if you're not in that state of grounded energy and you're not in this space of right alignment with your head and your heart, and your focus is on the goals, you will not be able to take this higher leap of growth that you are so capable of taking. So letting go is very important.

That friction, impatience, irritation or frustration, could come from some kind of an old mindset. It could also come from an old belief system that no longer serves you. So it's important you acknowledge that even if you don't know what that is, you know, you could take a deeper dive and you can try to pinpoint and say, "That's how I used to think", Or "That's what I used to say", or "That's what I believed in, but somehow I don't believe in that anymore."

Part of my role is to take people through that route to get to the root cause of what is causing the pain, so I can help you transform that pain, that struggle, that challenge into prosperity.

Transformation Can Be Achieved

I don't believe in putting band-aids on anything - whether that is your relationship, your health, your business, finances. We are getting into the deep core, the root of every issue and we are going to transform. And it's amazing how we can co-create the transformation because I believe in co-creation. I can't do everything by myself, but together we can.

And if there is any client or potential lead in your business that's causing you to stress or anxiety or irritability or you are wondering why they are not responding, or why are they not starting the journey with you, when you know they love and trust you and you know they respect what you bring to the table, but there is still something that doesn't make sense that they're not signing up for the contract, or they're not giving you the time or the energy that you think that you need, it's not about you, it's about them.

What does that really mean? It means that they are not ready for your services. It's not that you can't do what you know you can, it's that person, that client, that lead, is not ready for you. And remember, it's a co-creation process and I teach that to all my clients so that they can really shine in their own business as well. It has to be an equal partnership. It cannot be 49/51 or 40/60, it has to be an equal partnership between my clients and me, and all my relationships. That's where I am today. If it's not, I'm going to step back and I'm going to let you take the lead also. So try that in your essence when you're irritated or frustrated.

One really beautiful question to ask is, what do I need now? What do I need now at this moment to shift in my perception? Because the Air Guardian talks about shifting our perceptions. So sometimes it's just that question that you can put forward and say, "What do I need to do now to shift my perception?" Because sometimes just by asking that question, you can really get grounded, and the right message will come that will open up your blind spots we all have. Just like in driving, we have these blind spots which are behind us, our peripheral vision can't treat those blind spots, and the minute we say, "Hey, shift our perception. Whatever it is in your blind spot, the universe will bring it in front of you." And you'll be surprised sometimes.

You have to trust and say, "Okay, I'm willing to understand and shift my perception, I am committed no matter what, I am determined to take the next step no matter what that is for my growth and my elevation because if I grow, everybody around me grows. My clients grow, my family members grow, my community will grow, my team will grow."

It's kind of a spiral, which is a ripple effect and it's a beautiful effect. So if you are willing, you're committed, and you're determined, everything starts to fall into alignment.

What Will You Use Your One Word For?

You're going to use this tool to make money. What does that mean? What could that look like? So whatever business you're in, allow the one word to guide you. Apply it to your marketing strategies, apply it to how you lead your team. Apply it into your client relationships or client retention endeavors, your visibility strategies into the community, building your presence into the community. Apply this to your bank accounts, apply this to pick up what kind of business platforms you need to bring in for your growth of the business.

For example, let me talk about this year alone. This year, my one word for the year for 2018 was expansion. I've created new programs, I've created digital platforms, we created a membership site, because expansion was the main theme for the whole year that guided me, anchored me in, showed me the way, as to how I'm going to expand my reach, my business, my financial revenue for the business, expand my growth, focus on ...  No matter what I did, everything was expansion, to the point we really created a solid foundation for international business.

“Expansion” also meant I added four new team members into the business. So when I started with the one word in January, I didn't know what it would mean. I just knew that's where I need to go and it has really shown me the way throughout this year and every quarter as I had my goals for the business, expansion became the main theme, and then there was a sub-theme that guided me through.

Last year was momentum, and we really kicked in and gained a lot of momentum in the business in all aspects. From social media momentum to getting clients, to how we did business, how we did deliverables, everything was geared and with the energy of the word momentum.

One of the years was nurture. Now there's a difference between being nurturing, or be a nurturer yourself. We used the word to ask: how are we going to nurture our clients? How are we going to focus on premium packages? So all of this coaching and all of these premium packages came from the concept and the word nurture. I really nurture my relationships, and I really took time and I still do, to care for the growth of my client.

When one word comes to you and you start asking these amazing questions, like what does that really mean? You may not be able to see 12 months into the future, but if you can focus on 90-day chunks, like your quarters, I think you will be very pleasantly surprised as these brilliant breakthroughs start to come in.

Last but not least, you need to make this one word a part of your daily routine. It shouldn't be just one word for the first week of the year, and then it just is in the past. You need to write it down everywhere.

You need to have a visual reminder. You can use posted notes, you could announce it to everybody or you could get it inscribed on a stone.

My word for 2019 is “cultivate.” What does cultivate mean to me? And I'm taking this weekend to ask the same questions I'm asking you, to ask your divine connections, and your guides and your higher intelligence to guide you through.

The one word for the year exercise has created amazing results for myself and a lot of my clients, and we love what this process creates for us. And I know that it's going to do amazing things for you into the next year. So just invite the energy of the word into your life.

You could create a vision board. You could have a screensaver on your phones, on your computers, on your desktop, on your mobile devices. You could even have it inscribed on a piece of jewelry.

There're ways to bring in the energy and do it on a daily basis and get it involved in your daily routine so it's always there. And as you give it the proper elevated alter place, it's going to do some magical things for you and bring in that amazing energy and help you move forward.

So, my prayer for you as we end this year, and we embrace the new year, that you are guided. And the fact you do take the time to create your one word, you will be surprised what it does for you. And I really believe this word is the right word for you, whatever that word is.

If you have resistance or challenges in helping you attract or use your one word, please reach out.

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