The Word-of-the-Year Episode - Christine Kane

This whole Word-of-the-Year really took flight with my community back in 2006 when I wrote a blog post about the process. The following year, I opened my blog up for guest writers to share their stories of how one word changed their lives. And as the saying goes, the rest is history.

In today’s episode, we’re going to explore intention differently, centered around choosing a single word, by giving you some ideas for setting up the coming year for your own expansion and success.

I’ll explain the differences between the do-have-be scenario that typical resolutions follow and how the be-do-have has worked for myself, my clients, and 1000s that have used the Word- of- the- Year Discovery Tool since it’s creation in 2014.

You’ll hear my 3 main guidelines when it comes to choosing your word of the year – followed by what we now call “thea bunny story” (yes, it’s another dog story that fits perfectly!)thanks to my doggy co-stars) that will bring this all to life in the most straightforward fashion.

All of this is to offer you one of the most powerful tools you can wield. It’s not a rule or a “should” or a punishment. This is about finding guidance, not cracking the whip. It’s about how a single word can manifest what your life is calling out of you right now. Enjoy.

Episode Transcript

The point is that our energy just serves us better when we have a clear direction and being scattered and trying to focus on too many things does not serve you.

Welcome to the Soul-Sourced™ Podcast, unconventional business advice for the highly creative, secretly sensitive and wildly ambitious entrepreneur. I’m your host, Christine Kane. Let’s do this.

Welcome to episode number 27 of the Soul-Sourced™ Business Podcast. And I am recording this episode after the virtual Click Retreat. And I want to say thanks to all of you who came and participated in such a huge way. We had over a thousand people sign up and then I kind of made everyone jump through hoops and fill in applications and do official registration. And that’s mostly because I only wanted people in our virtual room who were committed to taking part fully. And so we had about 550 people total. And I will say that never was there a time when we had fewer than 400, 450 people there in the sessions. So we had entrepreneurs from 27 different countries and it was really just fabulous. And I didn’t get to go through all of the comments because there were thousands and thousands of them rolling live, but the feedback was truly phenomenal. Lots of business breakthroughs.

So taking Click, which had only ever been an annual event here in Asheville, uh, taking it virtual, totally worked, and the strategy and Soul Trainings were just what everyone needed to help them Uplevel their businesses for 2021. And I just wanted to simply say, thank you to everyone who came and committed to their own expansion and their heart and their soul and their business, and of course their success. So here we are at episode 27 and I am calling this the official “Word of The Year” episode. And that’s what we’re going to immerse ourselves in today. Intention and energy and word of the year and trusting your own wisdom, trusting your own life.

So it all begins, this whole word of the year thing begins one December, in the very early two thousands. I think it was 2002 and my friend, Kathy, and I were hanging out and talking about goals and resolutions and the coming year, and both of us were tired of the struggle. And we were tired of that relentless drive and need to get things and grab things and wrestle things, and we each decided that we were going to shift this and we decided that we were going to choose a word for our year. You know, some quality that we wanted to be, rather than make lists of things we wanted to do, so all the usual goals and plans that all of us are so used to. And this was long before anyone had said the phrase “Word of The Year” to anyone it was before the internet was really huge. It was before blogging was really huge. So I chose the word delight. And if I’m going to be honest with you, I can’t tell you exactly what happened that year, but something worked because then the next year Kathy and I got together, we decided we were going to do it again.

And that year I chose the word generosity. And I do remember what happened the next year. And, um, I remember I opened up this kind of tight grip I had around money. I stopped being a starving artist and I just started to give more, more money, more time more of myself. And this was when I was, I was on the road about 200 days, a year, 250 days a year, that at that time period in my life, so I had plenty of opportunities for this. And I would, you know, I would tip everyone like all the hotels, all the housekeeping, I paid tolls for the people behind me. I did everything I could to just give, give money. And I remember, I, you know, I gave money to someone who had rescued a kitten and told me about it after the show, I just gave as much as I could.

And the changes I started noticing were subtle, but really huge. And I really did stop being a starving artist. And I believe it was because of that word, guiding me out of that constricted thing that I had spent so much of my time in being a starving artist. And then I started my blog in March of 2006. And at the end of that year, I wrote a blog post about this and that blog post got hundreds of comments on it. People loved the idea. And as far as I know, I was one of the first people to introduce the idea to the internet. And the next year I opened up my blog to guest writers and bloggers who wanted to share how choosing a single word for their year changed their lives. And yes, I said, it, it changed their lives. The stories were astounding. I couldn’t believe it.

And since then this whole word of the year thing has become kind of a normal thing for people. I even created a downloadable tool called The Word of The Year Discovery Tool. And in it, I walk people through a process as they choose their word. And you can get that still, by the way, it’s at Www.YourWordOfTheYear.Com your word of the year. So most likely what I can guess is that some of you love this practice. You do it every year. You’ve really taken it on whether or not you heard about it through me. And I’m betting that some people don’t get it and I’m also betting that some people forget they chose a word and they can’t even remember the word that they had thought of last year at this time. And every year they roll around, they’re like, ah, yeah, I should do that.

So wherever you land on that spectrum, I’m going to use this episode to explore intention, especially with regard to choosing a single word for your year and show you how it works and give you some ideas for setting up the coming year for your own expansion and success. So let’s start this by talking about the, Do, Have, Be approach versus the Be, Do, Have approach to intention because that’s really what this is all about. When you consider intention, not as a thought or any kind of mental activity, but instead you consider it as an energy or a movement or direction, then you realize that intention can start massive transformations in your life or in your world or in your business. But the power of that intention is huge. It’s also really hard to teach by the way, most of my clients start to understand intention only because they experience its power, and that’s because I don’t do a single event or retreat or Zoom these days without infusing some kind of intention to that event or retreat or Zoom.

My clients learn through being immersed in intention. And then they start to take its power very seriously, but it’s not something that you just teach really quickly and everyone gets it. It’s kind of like the age-old metaphor of, you know, riding a bike. So I could take this entire episode and I could talk on and on about riding a bike and balance and velocity. And I promise I will not do this, but you get the idea. You won’t understand bike riding until you experience bike riding, and intention is a lot that way, but most people, they set goals or they make resolutions, and they do this from the model that is known as Do, Have, Be. And in the Do, Have, Be model, the mind says, I will do this thing so I can have this other thing. And then I get to be this way.

So if I were to anchor back to my word, generosity, for instance, the normal way we have been taught this Do, Have, Be approach is, I would have said that I will do something like, I will do 300 days a year on the road so that I can have a whole shitload of money and then I can be generous and I that’s oversimplifying, but you get the idea. So I will do this action, you know, for us as business owners that usually means working or achieving or doing all kinds of activities. So I can have this thing. And usually, for business owners, it’s more money. So I can be this other thing, and that is successful or rich or wealthy or peaceful or content, whatever that thing is might be for you.

For some people, this does achieve a certain end result. But in my experience with myself and with thousands of students and clients and Soul-Sourced™ Entrepreneurs, as we call them, doing does not get you to being, even though our minds like to think it does, because we’re all so addicted to this whole cause and effect way of living. But consider when, I’m going to do an example of that’s kind of universal for, for people, is consider when you did a diet or some kind of fitness plan, so that you could have, you could do a diet, so you could have that hot skinny body and then ostensibly, you would be gorgeous and at peace with your body. And let’s say that you did it, like you did everything, you achieved that body. But, and I have to ask you to really check in with yourself on this,

Did you actually become that thing? Were you ultimately peaceful? Were You ultimately content and in love with your body? And could you sustain that level of being? Most likely you couldn’t, and I’m not saying that doing isn’t part of the equation, it’s just that the Do, Have, Be model ultimately doesn’t achieve what our funny little minds think that it will, cause being, is a life transformation. Doing is just an activity. So intention, when it’s done well, includes the Be part of that equation. And when it’s done right, it includes that level from the start. And this is where choosing a word of the year can be so groundbreaking for people, because they drop the struggle that comes with that Do level. And they instead, do something that I call playing with being. So I call it, Play With Being, and when you play with being, the change comes on the being level, the Be level. So it’s about Be first and then Do, and then Have.

And it’s harder for the mind and to wrap its head around this, because we all want the instant rewards and we don’t want to wait. And then we don’t know what being really actually means. Like, is it faking it? Do I just pretend? No, you don’t, but just check in with yourself. Most people, when I talk about this, they admit that they are so tired and so burnt out from all the hustle porn and they, they just kinda don’t know what to do next. They can’t do anymore. And it’s why resolutions don’t ultimately work. So we say things like I’m going to resolve to change from, you know, and usually it’s from the do level of my life. But true shift has to come from a deeper place. And it’s often a little more challenging because you have to experience yourself from a deeper place and that’s uncomfortable because you have to be willing to examine your life and your role in your life.

And this is where word of the year is so powerful. It’s literally like consciously planting a new seed into the energy that is you. And then seeing the changes occur. It’s that basic. And just like riding a bike. I can’t teach you with words, what balance feels like for you or will be like for you, your journey after you choose that word becomes your own at that point. So then how do you know what word to choose? And I’m going to be really stupid here. And I’m going to say the thing that we all don’t want to hear. You just know. You do. You can tell when you want a word to be the word, but when another word is actually really calling to you, and maybe that word is not as exciting as the other word, you kind of get this sense about it. You feel called to it.

But if that doesn’t make sense and you’re rolling your eyes and you’re not that person like this is maybe this is your first time trying this, then just be willing to go with the word that first starts to make itself known to you, or that first shows up, make it an experiment. So look, the key thing is not the word. It’s what the energy of that word is for you, what it means to you. So let’s do a little thing right now. I’m going to say five different words and just roll with me here. Okay. Just see how each of these lands for you. Like, what does that word evoke in you? My experience is that when a word lands, I know it, like I can feel it. And I’ve had some years where I have chosen words that really lit me up and made me excited.

Like one year I chose the word pioneer and I love that word. It was a, it was kind of cool. And I chose it. I was still a musician at the time, but I was learning lot of business stuff. I was learning a lot of marketing. I knew I was going to be doing an online program that year, cause I had been doing retreats and so, a lot of unknown territory was ahead of me, and the word pioneer was really exciting for me. But last year, for instance, my word was trust, which sounds super boring when you’re, when you’re used to words like pioneer. But if ever there was a year that any of us needed trust, it was this past year. So it proved to be a huge touchstone for me. So I’m going to say these five words now, and I’m going to pause so that you can take a second to see how they feel to you. These aren’t suggestions, by the way, I just want you to get a sense of how a word feels as it sort of washes over you.

All right? So let’s start courage, abundance, spacious, curiosity, integrity. So if you’re playing along with me here. And you let the energy of each of these kind of wash over you and you could access a meaning inside of you, then you can see how intention starts to work. It’s not about the word or the words. It’s about how that word might open you up or guide you in relation to what your life is calling out of you right now. So then let’s talk about how to choose a word and how all of this works.

Let’s say you go through the process, you’ve chosen a word, or you downloaded the word of the year discovery tool, or you sit with a close friend and you really talk about it, Or you’ve been playing with words over the last few days. So like for example, one of the women who had come to my click retreat, she and her mom did this activity together. They went and got Word of The Year Discovery Tool, and she told me on a Q and A call that next week that her word was imperfect. And then her mom chose Odyssey and she shared how exciting it was, like how why her word was imperfect and how she had slowly given up on trying new things because she was waiting for perfection all the time. And she told me her mom’s reason too. And it was really clear to me that they both really let these words speak to them. So go through that process, get quiet, listen to your wise self and pick a word.

All you do then, is that you intentionally hold that word in your mind throughout the year. And you can do that, I’ve heard so many different stories of how people have done that, so you can get a charm on a bracelet or get a ring with that word made, you know, engraved in it. You can put it on sticky notes, all around your house. And one year I wrote, um, my word on the cover of my journal and that year, this was before I had a business called Uplevel, but it was the word Uplevel. And that became the name of my next, the program that I created, and then it became my business name. So it’s funny where these things will take you. But the point is, you want to find a way to keep that word around you as a touchstone and let it guide you to take action.

So here’s an example of how that might work. So let’s say you’re one of the many people who would normally choose a resolution on the Do level. You would write down that you will get organized. So you’re tired of the chaos and the clutter you’ve berated yourself for long enough, and you think to yourself, I need to get organized. That’s going to be my resolution, but then you, maybe you hear this episode or you do Word of The Year Discovery Tool and you think, all right, I’m going to try this new approach. So you sit with your clutter and you don’t berate yourself. You examine your life more deeply. Then you spend a few days pondering words and you realize in a little aha moment that your clutter is actually a symptom. And that you actually hold on to lots of things. You’re scared to let go of things. So you choose the word release because it inspires you in a bigger way than get organized. Then every time you approach your clutter, you remind yourself of that word. Release.

You, you might say that softly to yourself and you start to let clutter go. And then eventually you realize that you’re still holding on to a lot more than just physical clutter. You realize that maybe you’re holding on to resentment, an old relationship. And so you remind yourself release, and then you realize that holding on is affecting your diet or your health. And you’ll say release. Then you see how it applies to some of the extra weight you’ve gained as well. And throughout the year, you can clearly see how much you hold on. And so release becomes your touchstone and that word grows you throughout the year. It becomes your guiding force, not your harsh standard. And in that way, your clutter became your teacher simply because you shifted your intent toward it. This wouldn’t have happened if you’d opted only to get organized, do you, do you see how that works?

And this is exactly what’s happened to thousands of people who have tried this. It’s a much more gentle approach, but it’s also a more powerful approach. It’s just very, very easy to meet this idea as I’m talking about it with cynicism or sarcasm, which is fine, you know, we can let that go too. So I have three guidelines that you can use when it comes to choosing your word of the year. And there’s more, by the way, in the Word of The Year Discovery Tool, there’s more other little guidelines and rules and things that you can use as well, but these are three key ones that I want you to understand if you’re only going to listen to this episode.

So the first guideline is to notice that this is called word of the year, not words of the year. So, I say this because you may be one of those people who just can’t possibly imagine stuffing all of your huge goals and plans into one word, and you’ve already lined up a good five or 10. So what I’m going to tell you about is something that happened on a hike I was on last year to prove my point about this. So me and Elaine Bailey, she is a coach here at Uplevel, we were hiking in the mountains here outside of Asheville. We both had our dogs. Her dog’s name is Ogden. My dog’s name is Zoe. And when we were deep into the woods, way into our hike, Ogden kind of went off and sniffed around this little brush area and he apparently found some bunnies and there were bunnies everywhere. Like there’s bunnies and Ogden was running around, completely confused. He was like bunny, bunny, bunny, bunny, bunny.

And he was sniffing and going all over and trying to get all the bunnies. And Zoe had been sitting by my side, watching the insanity and she looked down and a bunny had run right up to her. It was right at her feet and she just bent down and picked up and is if she looked at both of us as if to say, bunny! Now, I’m not going to go into the hysteria and the insanity that then ensued with us rescuing the bunny from Zoe, but the point is, it was truly, it was 2 crazy ladies, just absolutely going crazy. And I will say, this has never happened. This is the only time this ever happened, but it’s a good metaphor. And the point is that Ogden was free to pick any bunny he wanted and he never did get one. All he did the entire time was running around going bunnies, bunnies everywhere, bunnies. I cant see, so many bunnies. But he was in a trance from all the bunny that was possible for him. Zoe, on the other hand, looked down, picked a bunny and got her bunny. The idea is that this is called focus. So that might be a good word for you. If you find yourself unable to choose one word, one bunny or maybe clarity. The point is that our energy just serves us better when we have a clear direction and being scattered and trying to focus on too many things, does not serve you.

The second guideline is something I call Shed the Shoulds, meaning that word of the year is a tool, not a weapon. And as such, try to avoid the energy of punishment by choosing a word that you should choose. So I know someone who always gravitates toward the word patience because she criticizes herself for not being patient with herself or with other people. And the whole thing is kind of has this energy of this whip that she cracks on herself rather than something that could guide her. And it’s not that the word patience is wrong by the way, but in her case, it’s a should not a guide. So if she were to go deeper, for instance, she might be able to shed the should and find something that she could sort of meet halfway. Like maybe if you have this same experience, you take the time to look a little deeper, to see where the impatience comes from. And you realize that maybe you never feel like you do enough, or maybe you’re never, you never are enough, then, so maybe you play with the word enough for a little while, and then you think maybe I want a little boring and it doesn’t inspire me. And you discover that the word trust might speak to you more, or you see that your impatience is a lack of trust that things are going to go well. So trust might be less of a should word and more of a guiding word. And I don’t, I don’t know if it would be trust, but can you see the difference in the energy of those two things? I hope so. It’s hard to know cause talking not, not to you right now,

The last guideline is something that I do, and you can just take this and run with it, If it speaks to you, I choose a word for myself and I also choose one for my business. So if you were at the virtual click retreat, then you know that I see each and every business as something that has its own energy or soul or whatever you want to call it as well. And as such, there are ways your business is always speaking to you. And with that said, you can consider a word for your business too.

And this is especially helpful. If you have a team and you need to lead them in a direction or have kind of a guide to help you make decisions in your business for your team. And if this is the first time doing this, then do it as an experiment. It’s been a pretty cool thing for me and I’m not going to go into all my results with it. We actually have it on an activity at the end of the year that we do with M Club, it’s called the plan, but I have them choose a word for their business as well. And it would be a whole another episode, but just play with it. If you’ve already done word of the year for yourself, pick one for your business as well.

So let’s talk next steps for you right now, first, really and truly, one of the greatest things to do is the, Go grab that tool because it’s just got everything laid out on it and you can download Word of The Year Discovery Tool. And then I think key thing is like, if you’re somebody who likes to do this on your own, then great do it on your own. But if you like having people with you, then get a trusted friend or friends to do it with you, do it together on Zoom. If you’re not allowed around, not allowed to be around each other or you’re not living nearby. And then I’m going to post a Facebook post and I’m going to ask people to share their words. I haven’t done it yet, but I will do it, but go find that post and let me know your word, Because I am genuinely curious and do some kind of gesture to put it out there or put it in your world so that you can see it. And remember it, you can make it a little alarm on your iPhone so that you always just tune in and remember every day at a particular time that this is your word and see how it shapes you, see how it guides you and, and share with me your stories, ’cause I love hearing these. It’s just, it’s so much fun to hear how people let the energy of this word really, really shift and transform them at the deepest level. And I think more than ever, we need this right now. We need you to do this right now.

And in the meantime, thank you guys for listening. Thank you for trusting me enough to spend a good 20 or 30 minutes with me every week. If you want more, by the way, you will notice that my book, the Soul-Sourced™ Entrepreneur is now available on And yes, I was the reader of my own book. You can get it there. You can get it on Amazon. And for those of you who have gotten it, I thank you for that. And also for your reviews on audible every little bit counts. And I’m really, really grateful for you being out there and listening and getting my book and all that good stuff. Let me know your word. All right. I will see you guys next week.