Last year’s word was “Attention.” It was a huge success: by paying attention to attention I was able to eliminate many unrewarding demands on my attention—to stop paying attention to things that didn’t give me a return on that payment. Attention is limited, and by paying less attention to those things that offered no reward, I was able to pay more attention to those things that offered rewards.
I mostly stopped watching TV (once I was paying attention to attention, it caused my brain stress to be in situations in which my attention was being deliberately manipulated and arbitraged), bailed on Twitter, read more books, turned off pointless annoyances, read less news, blocked emails from a couple of crazies on the local criminal-defense list, and served my clients and my family better.
I also spread the Attention Gospel, to the benefit of those who listened. The idea that attention is something that we pay, so that we should look at what we are getting in return for it, was a revelation to some. And this itself was rewarding to me.
I have chosen a word for 2018. I am not going to announce it until 2019. I am not going to spread its gospel.
Why not? For the same reason that you should not announce your New Year’s resolutions: You are more likely to accomplish your goals when you do not announce them.
Attention was an intrinsically satisfying Word of the Year. Every shift in attention from the manipulated to the organic, from the unrewarding to the rewarding, made my life noticeably better.
2018’s Word of the Year I do not expect to be as intrinsically satisfying. Its benefits I anticipate to be longer-term, and as great for those around me as for myself.
Remind me in 300 days or so.
Starting in 2017. ↩