It’s the beginning of a New Year. Which means you’re likely thinking about your past year and planning for the new one. You’re likely asking yourself a number of questions:

  • What went right last year?
  • What went wrong?
  • How can I do things better?
  • What are my goals for this years?
  • What do I want my resolutions to be?

When you ask yourself these questions, and set goals and resolutions for yourself, your intent is good. A desire for positive change should be encouraged. But desire and intent are not what actually instigates change – action is.

Achievable Resolutions Require Specificity

More often than not, people’s New Year’s resolutions usually involve some variation of the following:

  • Lose weight/get in shape
  • Make more money
  • Spend more time with family/friends
  • Get more organized
  • Be more disciplined

But a quarter of people who set resolutions don’t follow through for more than a week.

Part of the reason for this is that all of the above resolutions are nebulous intentions, not actual goals to be achieved. There is a lack of specificity, nothing with which to judge success. The resolutions need to be more defined.

  • Lose weight/get in shape Lose 15 pounds by April 1st
  • Make more money Increase monthly gross revenue by 5%
  • Spend more time with family/friends Take up new hobby with family
  • Get more organized Have a fixed weekly review and planning session
  • Be more disciplined Develop set morning routine to be followed everyday

Revising the resolutions into concrete goals helps steer you towards them. “Get more organized” is actually so vague to almost be meaningless. Whereas if you set yourself “a fixed weekly review and planning session” you know what you need to do to actually make that happen.

Setting well-defined goals is a big part of creating successful resolutions. But this year I’m going a step further and choosing a “power word” to help me with my resolutions and goals. It’s probably something you should do as well.

What Is A Power Word?

I saw the above Tweet a couple days ago and it led me down a bit of a rabbithole. I wasn’t familiar with the concept of “power words” and decided to look into it.

If you start Googling, most of the result you’ll get for “power words” are largely marketing and copywriting related. For example, Ultimate List of 1000 Powerful Words That Will Make You A Social Media Rockstar:

Studies show that content that elicits “high arousal emotion” (anxiety, amusement) is more likely to be shared and go viral than content that doesn’t elicit emotion or elicits “low arousal” emotion. Power words are key to evoking these “high arousal” emotions.

Which is banal and not what Mark meant.

From looking around more, when it comes to resolutions and goals, a power word is more akin to a mantra:

a sacred utterance, a numinous sound, a syllable, word or phonemes, or group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and spiritual powers.

Mantras are used in a variety of religious and spiritual practices. They’re used to refine and refocus your thoughts. they represent a concept or attitude that you wish to focus on.

So what is a power word?

A power word is a single word that you imbue with meaning to help govern and align your actions.

Why did Mark pick attention?

Attention is Currency

Pay attention: You have a limited number of seconds of attention, and you can spend a second on only one thing. There are no refunds, however, for buyer’s remorse. If you have a choice between a better thing to pay attention to and a worse thing, and you choose the worse thing, you are harmed by, at the very least, the opportunity cost of choosing wrong.

Those who would use science to get your attention (hello Facebook!) are calling your attention to things that are profitable to them, not things that are beneficial to you. They are arbitraging your attention, and in fact the less value they can give for it the better.

It’s an illuminating to pause for a moment and consider how people speak of attention. As Mark notes, people pay attention. It’s something that you exchange for something else.

To put it another way, attention is scarcity.

You only have so much attention. It’s not an unlimited resource. You need to be selective in what you give your attention to.

Why I Picked Attention For My Power Word

Like I told Mark on Twitter, I’m stealing his power word. I’m not sure if there is a better one than attention for my goals and systems in 2017.

For example, if you want to get in shape, you need to pay attention to your body:

  • You need to pay attention what you eat
  • You need to pay attention to your schedule so that you have time to go to the gym
  • You need to pay attention to the exercising you perform so you do them correctly
  • You want people to pay attention to the way you look

Or if you you want to make more money, you need to pay attention to your job or business:

  • You need to pay attention to clients and customers
  • You need to pay attention to expenses
  • You need to pay attention to developing new lines of business
  • You need to pay attention to marketing your business
  • You need people to pay attention to your business

Going forwards in 2017, attention is my power word. It’s something I can say to myself at a moment’s notice to align and correct my actions with a few questions:

  • What am I paying attention to at the moment?
  • Am I paying attention to something that furthers my goals or makes me a better person?
  • Is what I’m doing right now going to make people pay attention to me and my business?
  • Am I proactively selecting what I’m paying attention to right now or is someone else doing it for me?

2017 is going to be a great year for me and Associate’s Mind. I’m going to make sure it’s worth your attention.

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