InnovationCan’t settle on a theme to inspire you this year?

No worries!

Here are 10 ideas clients and I have tossed around while brainstorming–maybe they will spark your own inspiring words:

1.One of my favorites is “White Space“…. Just saying that out loud has made it easier to see what decisions to make and actions to take to create room in my schedule, in my house, and between my ears to think, create, connect, and be. I feel lighter when I say it and even lighter when I act on it. Do I get as much work done with that in mind?…..Yes, probably more.

2.“What If?“…. Also a favorite of mine- repeating this inspires more curiosity, research inquiry, perspective shifts, creativity, opening up to new ways of thinking and acting.

3.“Pause to Perform“.… Peak performers strategically creating pauses throughout the day to allow brains to assimilate, integrate, create, reboot, and work more efficiently. (Some clients even set timers on their phones or computers to look up, breathe, stretch, refresh the RAM between their ears.)

4.“Connect“…. How can this word direct your thoughts and actions to end your year more connected to family, or purpose, or whatever you need more of in your life?

5.“Listen First“…. Many clients find working on listening skills has disproportionate reward in leadership effectiveness and stress management. A mantra to listen first develops this skill over time.

6.“Nourish“…. What a big word this is! What do you need to add more of to nourish your energy, your vitality, your performance, your happiness. What a better focus than “diet!”

7.“Check Inside First“…. Focus on developing self-awareness, even somatic awareness to know when your gut, heart, and head are aligned with your values and purpose. This can develop greater awareness in many realms–awareness that drives insight and fuels intrinsic motivation.

8.“Intend“…. This theme can help shift more behaviors from reactive to proactive, aligned with purpose. A focus on intention can support less management, more leadership.

9.“Financial health“…. or ______health- whatever form of health you seek from physical to mental, emotional, spiritual–a reminder to chose thoughts and behaviors to move you toward a specific way of being.

10.“Balance“…. A commitment to build awareness of the balance of energies in your life with a goal of ending chronic deficits- either overall energy or specifically physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual.

Still stuck?….brainstorm a list of 20 words or phrases that represent the qualities of your ideal way of being in life, in leadership, in community. Let them percolate until one seems to really resonate and fuel your energy for this year.

Contributed by AIS Fellow and Chairman of the Workplace Stress Board, Cynthia Ackrill, M.D.

Visit Dr. Ackril’s website: for more practical stress managment information.