As this is the first post for my new blog, let me start by welcoming you! However you found this post, thanks for spending some time here.
A while back, I read Evan Carmichael’s amazing book, “Your One Word.” In it, the thesis is basically this: Using your own self-awareness, your values, your personality, and your interests, choose one word that fits your goals and your message to the world. Then, use that one word in everything you do, as a way to reinforce it within yourself, and to help others.
Evan’s “One Word” is Believe. He uses it in his profiles on various social media sites, in hashtags on Twitter, and many other places. It is his message to the world. He wants us all to believe.
I’ve always hesitated to choose my “one word.” It felt too heavy for me to commit to one thing without some deep soul searching. I’ve spent way more time researching suggestions than I have doing the actual hard work of looking inside myself to find the truth.
I realized now that my word—in other words, my mission for myself and my message to the world—can change. If I decide in six months that another mission and message feels more true, I can change my mind.
So, after some reflection and contemplation for many months, my One Word for 2020 is a simple and complex one.
Google’s dictionary definition of integrity includes things like moral uprightness, honesty, strong moral principles, and other similar phrases.
The most impactful part of the definition for me, though, is “the condition of being unified, unimpaired, or sound in construction.” I also like, “internal consistency or lack of corruption [in electronic data].”
There are a lot of complicated concepts and ideas around integrity, but for me it is very simple. If I say I’m going to do something, I will do it. But if I can’t or don’t want to, I will be as honest as I can with myself and others as to why.
I want to establish values and a core identity that are consistently congruent with my personality and my actions. I want to be in alignment among my habits, my personality, my desired identity, and my actions. Only then will I get results (goals) that I want and of which I can be proud.
(All of these things listed in the paragraph above could be, and might eventually be, posts of their own. But just know that these are the most important wishes I have for myself right now.)
Using the language from the definitions of integrity, I want to be unified and sound in the construction of my life. My identity, my values, my beliefs, my personality, and my actions need to be in alignment with one another if I want to achieve true and lasting fulfillment.
Building A Foundation
When someone asks us to do something, we have to assess two things: our ability and our willingness. That assessment involves prioritizing, time budgeting, schedule shuffling, and other factors.
The reason I’m choosing Integrity as my one word here at the start of a new year and a new decade is because I needed to have a hard conversation with myself. I’ll spare you the drawn-out details, but I came to the conclusion that I haven’t had much integrity with myself or other people in a long time.
So, one big part of living with integrity will involve being veracious with myself and everyone else. It’s easy to be that brutally honest friend or brother when I know someone wants the naked truth of my opinion. But when it comes to my own skills and abilities, and my willingness to do something, it’s been much easier for me to be a yes (or no) man than to tell the truth.
Yesterday, I would have based my answer on my current mood and stress level. But there are more important factors that don’t get considered in that scenario. Values, beliefs, goals, relationship with the person asking, etc.
So in short, living that way is not advisable, nor has it produced the results I want for my life and my loved ones. I’m declaring that period of my life to be over.
Having integrity with myself and others is at the foundation of what it means to be a good person and a productive human being. Without integrity (and especially personal integrity), nothing else matters.
Fulfillment can be an ever-elusive thing. It could be something you’re chasing for your entire life. But once you achieve true integrity, everything becomes fulfilling because you know you’re doing it for reasons that are Right and Good for you.
What Does This Mean?
Living with integrity can be difficult for some people. It requires high levels of self-awareness, gratitude, clarity, and honesty. Living with integrity will require me to push myself, to ask myself hard questions.
What is the truth? Is this in service of my goals? Do I have the skills and time necessary to complete what’s being asked of me?
Simply put, if I can answer yes to all of those questions, I know that what I’m doing is in alignment with the person I want to be. My goal of living with integrity is really in service of something else within me.
I need to learn to trust myself again. I need to find my place in the world and in the lives of others again.
I need to fan the flames on that little voice inside me who, thanks to Jordan Peterson, now sounds like Jiminy Cricket. I need that little voice to grow and get louder and more confident. I need to strengthen my conscience so that it can drown out the negativity in my mind and in my life.
We’ll see how it goes. I’ll keep you updated.
Now? It’s Your Turn.
What’s your one special and specific word for the new year? What is it that you’ve been avoiding or denying for too long? What’s that hard thing that you need to face about yourself or within yourself?
Find your one word. Do some deep introspection and see what pops out. Try a few on and see how they fit. As I said, I read Evan Carmichael’s book a while ago and I’m just settling on a word that fits now. Trust the process.
Read the book. It will help you understand the meaning and the process better than I’ve laid out here. Plus, Evan seems like a really cool guy and I like to support people like him. You should, too.
So what’s your one word? It can even be a phrase if you can’t think of a single word. (I considered using “personal integrity” as my phrase, but I can work on that at the same time as my integrity with other people, so I ultimately went with the single word.)
Let me know in the comments!
Or, throw this idea out and try on the next one. The beauty of this project is that I’m sharing things that are working for me, in a way that I hope will help other people. But please, don’t take my ideas as law.
Use the ones you like and the ones that feel truest to you. Throw the rest away. I truly want you to take action with these topics and ideas. If they don’t fit for you, don’t try to force them.
We’re all different for a reason, and that means different tactics will work for some than for others.
See you next time!