221- The Word I’m Banning This Year
Have you chosen your 2018 WOTY (Word of the Year)? I believe words are powerful and can be used for good. In 2017, my WOTY was 'expansion'. I expanded my company nation-wide, empowering women business owners to reach their goals by turning roadblocks into building blocks.
My 2018 WOTY is 'synchronicity'. As I meet wonderful business owners and executives across the country, I see all we have in common.
Deborah Goldstein, founder of DRIVEN Professionals, is a thought-leader with something to say. As I've gotten to know her, her message continues to resonate with me: The Word I'm Banning This Year.
Shoulda, Woulda, Coulda: Why I Decided To Boycott A Word In 2018
It’s that time of year when most folks start engaging (or perhaps regretting) their New Year’s resolutions. For others, it’s the time when they begin acting on their Word of the Year, or “WOTY”— that deliberately chosen term that’s full of optimism and meant to inspire one’s outlook going forward. I, for one, am dabbling in both pursuits, but I’ve daringly added a third commitment to my 2018 list of proclamations. I’ve chosen to virtually ban a word from my vocabulary.
It may sound absurd in a nation that prides itself on the right to free speech. This year, I’m exercising that right by boycotting a word that makes me feel uneasy, both emotionally and physically. My move is not a protest or a contrarian act; after all, as author and academic Judith E. Glaser says, “Words create worlds.” But in my world, the word “should” creates bad energy. As such, I’m choosing to use this word only sparingly and intentionally.
Have you ever considered personally boycotting a word? The idea came to me after calling the “word police” a few too many times, starting with “sorry,” since it takes away from one’s power. Then there’s “busy,” which too often gets used as a cop-out for why we don’t have enough time. As for “should,” let me invite you in further.
Have you ever noticed how “should” implies resistance and a disingenuous attitude? I first noticed this while standing on a train platform, when a young woman had a disturbing coughing fit. She was in BAD shape, so I offered her a tissue and a lozenge. She declined, but managed to force out the words, “I really should quit smoking.”
It was obvious from her tone that this wasn’t the first time the thought had crossed her mind. It was also clear that she had no intention of following through. And although it’s not apparent on the surface, this woman had a compound problem. In addition to the carcinogens robbing her of her physical health, her “should” attitude was resulting in guilt, which may release cortisol into her body. That stress hormone, over time, can be just as deadly as smoking.
Ironically, she wasn’t the only one abusing the word “should” at that juncture and suffering the consequences. I was reprimanding her in my head, “Of course, you should quit smoking!” The word “should” in that instance represented my judgment of her, which helped neither one of us. It only served to release more cortisol, this time into my body. That dose was doubled when I thought back on my own smoking habit, feeling guilty for judging someone else’s weakness when quitting had come so easily for me.
There’s another subtle way that “should” is a drawback for me and others: when it impedes one’s career. Think of all the personal demands any professional faces in pursuit of success. The inevitable outcome is that we won’t get around to completing all the important stuff. For me, this used to be followed by the unfair tongue lashings I gave myself for falling short, which were slathered in "shoulds": “I should be more active in my networking efforts.” “I really should be more present when I’m at home with family.” Even worse, my verbal proclamations started to sound like hot air to those within earshot.
If this sounds like you, make a mental mark each time you catch yourself saying you “should” engage in a variety of recognized, but not yet embodied, protocols and practices. Then realize how this self-imposed demand can detract from your confidence and power since you’re telling yourself that you’re not capable of aspiring to certain ideals. When a lightbulb turns on, that’s your cue to renew your mindset.
Start Getting Serious
If the “should” boycott resonates with you, there’s a simple challenge that can bring you on board. Begin to replace the word “should” with “will.” It might sound elementary, but this rephrasing can inspire action. Try saying, “I will reach out to Sarah Smith for a coffee meeting.” Follow this by putting the task right on your calendar. Then declare, “I will unplug during the weekends,” and watch as your lifestyle starts to reshape itself to compliment your needs. To help the process along, I post my out-of-office alert on Friday evenings (with an emergency contact number, of course), and then stick my smartphone into a sock drawer.
I should and will confess that when I became mindful of all the “shoulds” I had been uttering, it was a bit embarrassing. Furthermore, it was awkward to consider the truth behind my intent to change the habit. Was “will” just going to be a filler word, or would there be a true commitment? But as with any newly-embedded practice, I noticed a difference in just a few days. If you decide to replace “should” with “will,” be patient with yourself -- results will follow.
Deborah Goldstein's website: DrivenPros.com