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Since I turned twenty-three years old, I started to set resolutions and massive goals every single year at my birthday and the New Year. I would list out every single thing I wanted to change or gain in my life in order to “be happy.” But after just a few days or weeks, nothing happened and I was left depressed and deflated.

So I gave up on resolutions and creating a big list of massive goals for every area of my life… Instead, I’ve been choosing a single word to guide me for the New Year.

A single word that sums up the essence and focus for the next 365 days of my life. Sure, I still set personal and professional goals, but having that guiding word changed everything. It allows me to step back and look at the big picture.

What do I want to feel this year?
What kind of experiences do I want to have?
What results, effects, or changes do I want to see?

2012 was abundance.
2013 was connect.
2014 was truth.
2015 was expansion.

Truth and expansion. Those two words — those two years — have been the most challenging and amazing of my life.

I remember all of 2014, repeating “truth, truth, truth” to myself as I found the courage to say the things that needed to be said. As I spoke up in my professional life and created amazing opportunities and eliminated what wasn’t serving my highest good. As I spoke up in my relationships and began unraveling pieces of myself that had been tucked away, lost for years and years.

And 2015… I had no idea what I was asking for when I chose the word expansion. Well, I did. I just had no idea what it was going to take for me to expand in all the ways I desired. Before it even began, this year flattened me. Before it even began, this year cracked me open so wide that I had no choice but to expand. All that no longer fit had no choice but to fall away. And I had no choice. No choice but to face the darkness, free fall through a grief that left me shattered, and find the strength to pick myself back up and start healing. What. A. Year.

I didn’t think a whole lot about what word I wanted for this next year. Instead, I trusted that it would come. I trusted this, because for the last two years, the word has come on it’s own, and it’s been nothing short of perfect for where I was at and where I wanted to go. And this year, the perfect word has arrived yet again.

2016 is alignment.

If I’m honest I’ll tell you this word scares me more than truth and expansion ever could, because it requires a lot of me.

One of my favorite quotes comes from Zora Neale Hurston, “There are years that ask questions and years that answer.” From 2000 to about 2013 I asked a lot of questions. More accurately, I pleaded through tears in a tiny ball on my bedroom or bathroom or kitchen floor. I cried out for guidance… who the hell was I here to be? What was the point of it all? What was the work I was put here to do?

In 2014, the answers began to come as I braved truth with my full heart for the first time. And in 2015, despite the questions that came with my grief, it was a year of massive, massive answers. Intense clarity around who I’m here to be and the work I’m here to do. I’ve never felt clearer in my entire life.

Which means there’s only one thing left to do: align.

It’s about taking what I know to be true — from all the answers and clarity and guidance of the last two years — and aligning everything in my life, work, relationships, health, and self with those truths. It’s about choosing, every single moment of every single day, to work towards that full alignment… that full expression of myself, my soul, my gifts.

Choosing “alignment” is a lot like recognizing that it’s time to choose to “come back” from the darkest chapter of my life. I see the light. I see the end point.

I see what’s possible and all the beauty that comes with it. @StephenieZ
(Click to Tweet!)

And as much as this little heart of mine has always desired these things, it scares the sh*t out of me.

Because now it’s time to really step it up. Now it’s time to do the hard work, day in and day out, and make it happen. I know exactly what I need to do. And I’ve never been more terrified. Alignment… it’s going to be one hell of a year.

This year, I invite you to try something different.

Instead of setting resolutions or creating a huge list of goals and plans for the year, start by thinking about what you really want to create in the next fifty-two weeks of your life.

You already know what kind of life you want to be living, whether or not you’ve gotten clear on the specific goals. Even if you think you don’t, I promise you do. It’s just buried below the “have to do” and “should be doing” lists crowding your mind.

1) Start by making a word list.

What are all the things you want to do, be, or have in this next chapter of your life? Simply list out everything that comes to mind. Take your time with this, and don’t leave anything out. If it’s something you desire to do, be, feel, or experience, it deserves a spot on the list. No filtering or judgment, just write it down.

2) Look for common themes or ideas, and uncover your word.

Comb back through your big list of words, and begin to mark or highlight related items. Don’t just lump words together by the obvious (such as fitness related words to other fitness related words, or work to work, etc), look more deeply for the core essence and feeling behind each.

Maybe you wrote down the words fit, soccer, active, and tone, but you also wrote down happy, accomplished, and successful. Think about what those words have in common at their core. Maybe it’s something like energized, healthy, or powerful. A good word for you might be vibrant.

Maybe you wrote down the words husband, best friend, and communication, but you also wrote down speaker, writing, and mastermind. What do these have in common? What’s the general essence? A good word for you might be connection.

It doesn’t have to cover every single thing perfectly, but think about what’s really motivating to you right now. Do you want more abundance, to have a richer life? Do you want more connection, through self expression as well as your work and relationships? Do you want more energy, to feel alive and powerful?

3) Keep your word in prominent places.

Once you have your word, keep it visible, as a reminder of what you’re working to create this year. If you feel compelled, create a vision board with images that represent the many ways you’d like to see this word come to fruition in all the different areas of your life. The more visual you make it, the better.

And when you have it, be sure to tell me what you’ve chosen. I’d love to support you by holding the space for you to create all you desire this year.


Stephenie Zamora is the founder of www.stepheniezamora.com, a full-service, life-purpose development, design and branding boutique and author of Awesome Life Tips. Through her Mastery program, she merges the worlds of personal development and branding to help men and women build passion-based lives and businesses they love. Her articles have been featured in The Huffington Post, Yahoo Shine, Positively Positive & Brian Tracy International. Click here to access her free Foundations for Unshakable Joy™ video training series and learn the unexpected trick to transforming your life with one single question! Connect with Stephenie on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter!

Image courtesy of AlicePopkorn via Compfight cc