What To Watch Out For (Now That You've Chosen Your Word-Of-The-Year)

written by Erica Quam

Intentions and Dirt.png

Last week, I wrote about choosing a word-of-the-year. This week I want to get real with you.

Setting an intention should come with a WARNING.

This isn't what most people talk or write about. You don't read about this as you're getting ready for all the excitement of the New Year.

When you first set an intention...the first thing you might notice are the things you DON'T want that come up. 

Which may lead some people to begin to question their intention. 

You may think things like...

  • "Well, this clearly doesn't work."
  • "There must be something wrong with me."
  • "Yet another example of why I'm different."

Don't dismiss this powerful practice so quickly. Have a little more trust and faith to see your intention for 2018 through.

Think of yourself as a gardener. You're planting a seed for the year. The first thing that's gonna come up isn't the flower or the fruit. It's not even the stem or the leaves. The first thing that'll come up after you plant a seed is all the DIRT.

So, look out! Begin to pay more attention to the things that are unlike your attention that'll come your way...especially during these first few months of the year. 


One of the coaches I work with chose the word, 'abundance' as her word-of-the-year. She wanted to put her focus on all the abundance she had in her life. She wanted to acknowledge opportunities, connections, comforts, and gratitudes.

Early in the year, she had an athlete in her office asking for an increase to her scholarship. She taught her team that scholarship conversations were best if they were between her and them. Not one another. She was the one who would be making decisions about scholarship - so it wouldn't be productive to talk about it with anyone else on the team.

When this coach didn't increase the athlete's scholarship, the athlete threw an absolute fit. She stormed out of the office. She made sure her teammates knew about it. She even criticized her own teammates who were on a higher scholarship amount than her. 

The athlete's parents got involved. They went to her athletic director. Parents who had once been on this coach's side - thanking her for helping their daughter have such a great college experience - were now telling her all the reasons she wasn't a good enough coach. 

This coach was definitely triggered. 

She wanted to be liked. She wanted her athletes to believe they were being treated fairly. She wanted them to feel like they were on a level of scholarship they felt they deserved. 

The coach felt horrible. Yet, she knew she had to stick to her own beliefs - instead of listening to all of the many outside opinions, judgements, and criticisms. 

This athlete had improved...she just wasn't at the level to merit a scholarship increase. She didn't make the team's top relay. She didn't score at the conference meet. She hadn't made NCAA Consideration times. This athlete didn't meet the criteria for the level of scholarship she wanted.

This coach started to doubt herself and doubt her decision. The hardest part was the discomfort of knowing that this athlete was complaining about her and dividing the team. This young woman had formed her own mini-alliance.  The coach could just feel it. The eyerolls during team meetings. The whispers off to the side.

The more triggered the coach got by her athlete...the more discomfort she felt. The more she focused on this situation and made up stories about all the things the team was saying, the more horrible she felt. She wanted to quit. 

We talked about this situation during one of our calls. "There's no abundance in my life right now. My word-of-the-year makes me sad...I've taken it down off of my mirror. I feel like it's a joke!"

That's how intention works. It's what no one tells you. You're gonna have challenges that come up this year that will stare you in the face....just daring you to be triggered. 

The most important thing is your awareness of these triggers.  

  • How much do you really want abundance anyway? 
  • Can you still see abundance - even through a challenging situation? 
  • What are your athletes really teaching you?


For this coach, once we reframed her situation, she felt a little more hope.

She acknowledged she was proud of herself for sticking to her expectations and not giving in. She decided she needed to pay attention to other athletes on the team a little more. I challenged her to either check in with the athletes who she thought were whispering and rolling their eyes...or let it go. 

You can't get rid of everything that triggers you in life. You can become more aware of your triggers. You can begin to take your power back through your own self awareness.


This awareness builder can help everyone on your team. Teach your athletes that they can't control anyone else. The only thing they can control is their own reaction to things. Most of the time, people don't have power over you until you give your power away.

Talk about how you can take your power back once you start to become aware of how you get triggered and how you react to situations.

This can be as simple as asking them to keep a running list of what triggers them...for one week. Have them keep track of the times they get irritable, angry, frustrated, sad, or uncomfortable. They can keep this "trigger tally" on their phones, in a journal, or on a piece of paper they carry around for a week.

The next week come back together. Talk about it.

  • What did they notice?
  • Were there any themes that came up?
  • What else did they learn?

Next, ask them what they can do about the things that trigger them. Write a few of their examples up on a dry erase board. For each example ask them to think one productive action they can take vs. one unproductive action they could take.

Sure - they can always fly off the handle...or bitch and complain about things that trigger them. Is this helpful? Is it productive? Do they feel any better afterwards?  

Most of the time, (if they're really being honest) they'll answer no. 

If they get stuck, on what they can do to handle things in a more productive way...you can start to teach them and coach them on more productive ways to manage the things that trigger them.

What's one thing that's triggered you this week? How can you react in a way that's aligned with the direction you want to go to reach your goals in 2018? Share it in the comments below.