How One Word Can Create a Mindset That Sticks

January 03, 2023 | 1364 Views

How One Word Can Create a Mindset That Sticks

Rachel Richal, CHT

Vice President, Training | Buffalo Wild Wings

A year ago, I wrote a blog about my team’s word of the year. Having a word of the year is a practice I first saw on social media that I believe translates well into creating a team dynamic. Since we are kicking off a new year, I figured there is no better time to revisit this tradition that has made an impact around how I go to work and rally the team.

In case you missed it or need a 2023 refresher, here are the cliff notes as to why having a word of the year is a practice I highly encourage:

It helps set expectations

Picking a word of the year can help set clarity and focus. It can help set goals or expectations. When you go into the year with a theme, you can better anticipate, prioritize, and prepare.

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It’s a go-to when times are tough

We used our word to encourage us, we used it as direction, we used it as a reminder, but also, we used it sarcastically at times to make us all laugh. We all have times of high pressure. During those times, it’s easy to get frustrated. Our word of the year allowed us to remember that living to that standard was just as much part of our commitment as the tangible goals we wanted to achieve throughout the year. So when the pressure is on, the mantra helps to change the mindset.

It gives the team a rallying cry

A word of the year can help create a positive mindset and positive change. Positivity can be infectious. A positive word can create a mindset for your working style and, even better, one that a team or multiple teams can unite and encourage each other around.

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After another year of rallying around a word, I have added a few more reasons to the list:

It allows you to better reflect on performance

The easy part of performance reviews is determining if a tangible task or goal was completed. The harder part is reflecting on a full year of accomplishments, obstacles, and behaviors. When both filling out my own self-review or drafting for the team, I keep the word of the year in the back of my head as an intangible goal woven throughout the hard goals we set for the year.

It creates a mindset that sticks

Nimble - Word of the YearMy team has had two years of the same word of the year – nimble. As we head into 2023, we joked that we may need to repeat for year three or find a synonym. The truth of the matter is that we have proved that word is engrained in our team’s DNA, therefore the mindset will live on; allowing space for a new word as we head into the new year.

For both 2021 and 2022, my team rallied around the word nimble. The word hangs on the wall in our office as a reminder and on the back of my COO’s door – after all, he assigned us the word, so he gets to join in on the fun as well. Yesterday, I asked him for our 2023 word of the year and joked that the team has mastered our word of nimble, so he needs to get creative. Stay tuned for where we go next!

As we head into 2023, I wish you and your loved ones a very happy and healthy new year. I look forward to jumping into the new year as a community of trainers who learns from each other, shares best practices, grows our professional networks, and cares about our communities and this amazing industry we get to be part of each day. Cheers!

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