Episode 043: How a Word of the Year Can Transform Your Business (and Life)


Show Notes

Have you ever had a Word of the Year? What does that mean to you? For the ML Design Team, it helps us to pause and reflect on ways we can improve things in our personal lives and our working relationships.

Focusing on a powerful word also helps to stay on track and remind us of the intentions we set for the year. Drop us a note or send us a DM and let us know what your word of the year is, we would love to hear from you!



About Debbie & Megan

Debbie Pratt & Megan Fornes are the lead designers behind the brand of ML Interiors Group. Their award-winning designs, amazing client service, and ability to manage large projects allows Michelle Lynne the flexibility to take her business acumen to the public via her Designed For the Creative Mind® outlets.


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Michelle: Welcome back to the podcast. Everybody I'm so happy. You're here. I'm Michelle Lynn. And this is Designed for the Creative Mind podcast, which is a business podcast for interior designers and creatives. And today I have my team back. It's been a while since we've been here.

So this is Debbie, Megan. Um, for those of you who follow along, gosh, we did quite a few podcasts early in the infancy of the podcast probably cause I didn't know enough people to talk to and interview, but now we want to talk about words of the year.

So this podcast should be being released on January 3rd or maybe January 10th, 2022. We are going into the end of the year as we record this. And let's talk about a word of a year.

Michelle: And one of the things I want to just even bring up is like, why do one? Because people do new year's resolutions and then those usually peter out within 30 days, what is a word of the year? What is the word of the year to you?

Megan: and, and all this helps me just stop and pause because usually the word is to either encourage me to help motivate me, to keep me staying strong with ever whatever the situation may be.

Megan: So it's, we, we have planners and we like to read it in our planner. So usually if I'm feeling that emotion or whatever that word is directed towards, I see that. And just seeing it physically makes me internally stop and reflect. We have a space. Custom planters that we designed where we can put that word of the year.

Michelle: So Megan has hers printed out. Debbie has hers printed out. I have mine printed out. Sometimes I was switched to a lot of digital. Debbie, what is the word of the year mean to you? 

Debbie: Usually, and actually every year I've used it this way is I use it for self-reflection on ways that I need to improve my approach to not only my personal life, but, you know, work in itself and dealing with coworkers, dealing with clients, dealing with everything because, you know, typical of women, we internalize stuff, but I internalized like I'm on crack pretty bad.

I feel a lot of anxiety when it comes to productivity and getting things done and making sure people are happy when I overanalyze everything. So that word of the year helps me figure out. What the, what I've done in the past to move forward and improve on it.

Michelle: Love that love, love, love it. And for me, the, the word of the year came about because it keeps me on track because so many times it's easy to start off strong and then lose momentum or lose your vision. Oh, I think vision was one of mine words, I think.

So for me, I try to do it so that it's applicable personally, as well as professionally, so that I can just kind of say balanced because balance one of my course two accounts was mine was yours.

Okay. One of these days we should actually have written these all down in one place. Um, so for me, it's just a point to anchor myself and remind myself of what my intention is for the year. So, um, I guess we've been doing this for six or seven years about that was it. Did you and I do it before Megan joined us.

Michelle: I think it was after Megan joined. Yeah, it was right about that. Like maybe. The first, we always figure out our word right before we break for the holidays, I'm going into the new year. And I just think it was like, whoa, Megan's first year.

Megan: Yeah. Cause I feel like that year, we really focused on our intentions.

Megan: We read a lot of books and we did a lot of team building. I feel like it's really a foundation yeah.

Michelle: Dug in that year. That's right. Because we also had the whiteboard painted onto the wall and we could put it there and see it. So we, so we knew each other's better when we were all officing together to each other accountable.

Debbie: Yeah. We should probably write. Each other's words down somewhere, just so we can have it for next year and keep track.

Michelle: so, so, so let's talk about some words that we've had in the past. Gail don't look at me cause I was just like, Well, one of mine was grit.

Debbie: So that was, why did you choose that?

Megan: say at the time, now I'm trying to remember.

Megan: And then my, if I had my planner in front of me, it was to help get, I mean, obviously Greg and I even looked at the, it all, it looked up the definition to try to dig in deeper and find more meaning than what the surface level meaning is. Um, but it was going through a lot of projects that were. Because I also like two people please.

Megan: And it was just kinda like, you know, standing firm and standing up for not standing up for what you believe in, but like, like being your project's advocate and your client's advocate. And we had some contractors that were a little frustrating. Um, so it was just making sure that I was the big dog in the group.

Michelle: you also had stuff going on in the background that year. If I were trying to remember what it was. I think it was your family stuff and the drama in the background, maybe, which we all have in that respect. But I think you were also trying to keep, stay balanced and grit through, you know, professional and personal was starting to infringe because it's hard.

Michelle: I mean, When things are going sideways in your personal life, you have to, you have to have the grit in order to see your way through it.

Megan: And I wear my emotions on my sleeve. Like I cannot hide a facial expression to save my life

Michelle: which is funny because we're on a podcast

Megan: Um, so I think that in a sense of grit, like just putting your game face on and not letting how you feel internally reflect to other people, even though you might be struggling. So I think that was some deal worked that worked. What are some of your past words?

Debbie: last year, this year coming to a close, my word was exhale because after coming out of 2020 and everything happening, which, you know, we were pretty busy because we had projects that we were just approved before everything changed.

And it was go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go nonstop. And. You hold your breath. And I hold my breath and keep things in and I needed to just let it go. So I could move on to the next thing, which of course gives you more strength because you can breathe and be relaxed, but I was not letting things out.

And, um, the healthy way. Yeah. You were just holding your breath. I was holding my breath and it's you look at that? And with exhale at the top of my planner every day, sometimes I would just start my day and do the big inhale and exhale, like, you know, before you do a yoga pose or something, and just really helped me get through it.

Debbie: I mean, I've had balanced, um, work that was basically balancing, um, professional and personal lives because. I was overthinking once again. Where did the year overthink?

Michelle: Um, well, and also, because I think that when you love what you do, it's, it's hard to draw the line in the sand to stop working but just close the door or close your binder, shut off your computer because then it becomes work and it's not nearly Debbie: as much.

Debbie: Exactly. And I've had consistently. Just which over the years, as we've developed our processes, the consistency with our processes has helped me be consistent project to project, regardless of what size or scale or scope or the client themselves, if you're just consistent, it tends to keep you on track, keep you balanced and you can exhale.

Debbie: am not a runner and I never will be a hell of a Peloton or I try. Yeah. So, yeah. And I've had, wait, what did we just say? last year. I had breathe. Did I breathe?

Debbie: You had breathe. Oh, I have rest.

Michelle: Oh, you had rest. Rest was 2020 and we forgot about a B cause literally I forgot. He just did it well it's because it wasn't written down. Cause that was such a weird transition. Like I completely forgot about it so I could probably do it again. Um, Strategy was one that was back in the studio.

Michelle: And that was just because a lot of times I just operate from instinct. Do you have. Yes. I think I did have graces before strategy. Yeah. And now I have Genevieve grace also Gigi

Debbie: which is why she had rest. Well, rest is also because I love working. Like I, cause I feel

Megan: like I'm out of work. That was similar to balance too, because I was almost working too much.

I wasn't balancing my personal. That's what? I can't remember what it was somewhere around balance because it was, I was working too late into the night. Yeah.

Debbie: is key when you're picking out your word of the year, because sometimes the literal doesn't seem right. So you find something a little bit different. Yeah,

Michelle: I agree. I think that's, that's definitely a true state. So what are some words that you might've ruled out? cause we do. We go through quite a few. We just went through a few for you, max, what did we go through? And they were all, so what was that one that you came up with earlier?

Megan: Yeah, and for me, I was trying to find something well, like Michelle said earlier, something between personal and work that worked with both of those and act wasn't deep enough to hit both of those. Megan: It Debbie: has a lot of different meanings.

Digging into what is really set that you on fire and what's going to help motivate you, which is also key too. Like if you guys, as the audience goes through this exercise, y'all this isn't written in stone. I changed my mid-year one year. I think so. And it's just because life changes and there's no test.

Michelle: So it's just what resonates with you today might not resonate with you again in may. And it could be word of the month. Yep. 31 flavors, 31, depending on the month. Baskin-Robbins that's right. Um, so in that respect, it can, it can definitely change. Um, I went through a few as I was coming up with mine for 2022, and some of them was like, discipline.

Well, like, no, I think I'm pretty disciplined when I, when I, I just have to recognize it. It doesn't need to be my word. And then another one, I think I was just going to stick with rest. Cause I'm just tired.

It's also it's rest. I don't rest. Well, I can take a good nap, but I don't rest your brain off because again, I love what I do. I mean, this is to me is not work, but I can't do it all the time. So I've kind of narrowed a few of those out. And what about you? Did you narrow any words out that were kind of close to what you wanted?

Debbie: well, I didn't really want owners up. I didn't want to repeat anyone else's words. So like rest would have been a good one, but when we get to our actual words for next year, I had to sit in technically this year, when this was actually released. 

So sitting here thinking about it. You know, what did I experience in 2021 that I want to improve upon for next year? And so some of them. Words that I ruled out stop because I can't just stop. Right. That's gone drive because it's kind of the opposite of what I really want. It's words that have multiple meanings.

You can misinterpret as you're looking at it. So depending on how you feel. Literally in a car. Does it mean your motivation?

Does it mean with a golf club? I dunno. It's just, there's so many different words. I mean, meanings to it. So I had to really look at a word for this year that the multiple meanings were applicable for what I want to achieve or try to guide me. And it's it's guidance. It's totally guidance.

Michelle: So that your word this year?

Debbie: My word this year is. Not the kind on three people, but I may put a little pause at the top just because, you know, to make me laugh. But the reason is that it's, it's almost, it's, it's, it's kind of up there with exhale, but the next level that. I do need to stop, but stop is too definitive where pause is not permanent.

So think of it and think of all the different ways to pause. So you pause, you basically take a breath, think of your dryer. So your dryer, you need to go in there. And when you've got the sheets in there and you're like, oh, I need to pause it so I can re fluff it.

Pause like that. Then I was thinking, well, if you're sitting there watching a movie or show or something, you hit pause. Cause you cannot make it through the whole thing without going to pee. And so sometimes you just.

Stop pause, pause, but it's not a permanent stuff. So you have to refrain from what you're doing for a moment. Figure out how you can regroup, whether it's running to the bathroom, fixing your sheets and your dryer, um, responding a client, responding

Megan: because a lot of emails can be very emotional and you never want to send an emotional email.

Debbie: So pause before you send it's kind of live and walk away, stay off the internet when you're drinking wine type of thing.

It's a chance to take a moment, take a moment and think before you act so. For many different ways, ways the pause is to just get myself pulled together before I proceed with whatever I'm doing. And it also gives you the chance to marinate. Yes. Because all other times, oftentimes somebody says something and you have to pause to say, okay, did you really mean that like you're being an asshole or did I just not hear it right?

Michelle: Or are you having a bad day or am I having a bad day? You have to pause before you react. Yeah.

Debbie: So, yeah, and not thinking, okay, I need to respond to them today because I'm all up in a tizzy and they want to, they want an answer. There we'll have hearing cancer people. Uh, you know, so if, if I need to take a day to get my head right about something.

So I don't regret what I say. Um, a lot of times I bring Michelle into it. So if I can't yeah. Form your words correctly, because a different point of view and a different set of eyes on it can help you do it where it doesn't feel it's personal. It's not personal. And that's because our work is very personal.

t's very personal. So pausing takes the personal feelings out of some things.

Michelle: So Brian, my husband and I have a phrase called halt. That's a good one. Don't argue or don't discuss something when you're hungry, angry, late or tired. Oh, we used to have that up in the studio too. We have that.

That's, that's a good word. It's hard to say nobody was talking to anybody when you're hangry or when you're late, you're just tired and late or tired and hungry and late then you're angry.

I like that pause. I think that's, that's really good space for you. We'll see how it goes in 2022. That's my word.

Michelle: I love that. Good, good, good. We'll put that up on our whiteboard calendar when we're done with this megs. What about you?

Megan: mine will be shift. Figured that out as of today.

Debbie and Michelle both helped me kind of gather that. Uh, so me personally, I will be having a baby in a month from this podcast probably less. So my life is shifting on me. I'm in good ways and work with the ML and then business for interiors, all of that.

Adding more to our plate. Um, Debbie and I, as designers. So like work is shifting, um, a lot of my personal life. It just, it's such a good word because it, your husband got a new job.

I mean, talk about change in 2022. Um, so it's just going to help me reflect and be able to hit the ground running. Um, with new perspective and, you know, not scary.

And even just to shift, like if something does become overwhelming, like shifting your mindset and things, you know, just taking a pause and an old school days.

Michelle: So shifts usually accelerate, but that's, that's actually great because this way you can, you can speed up and slow down. You can like it. Yeah.

Cause sometimes even if you're going downhill, you have to, you have to downshift in order to. Run out of control. Can you drive a manual transmission?

Megan: to put that on my to-do list which another word could be someday clutch.

Debbie: So your word of the year can always be something that you wouldn't think is like work associated, motivational words, like you'd see on a poster, it's just interpreting a normal word and applying and applying it Michelle: here. Cause shift wouldn't apply to now.

Megan: I honestly wanted something more.

Michelle: Yeah. Oh look, you could just shift into fifth gear and you're driving

Megan: So I think, and I think it's fun too, when your word just has a lot, it just, it encompasses more than just, you know, a. Yeah, because it is, I mean, everything evolves around your business and what you're trying to grow and how you wanna live, um, lead your family life and all of that stuff.

Megan: So I think it's great that they both reflect or reflect more than just one

Michelle: Yes. Life is a hell of a lot more than just work. So even though this is a business podcast, I think it's very important that we have the balance. Um, between work and home life, because if one's out of whack, the other, just forget it, going to suffer.

t's just like eating a balanced diet, you know, everything anyway. Yeah. Everything in moderation. So shall your mind word is actually, so we were laughing about this. My word is be still.

So it's one of my favorite verses it's, um, Psalm 46, 10. And it's be still in know that I am God. And it's not that I'm gone, but it's, it's, it's, it's twofold.

It's multifold one is that at the end of the day, I need to remember where my. When the source of my power comes from is all through all through God, it's all the glory to, to him. So I need to remember just to be still. And when my mind just won't shut off, I don't have to solve it all because he already has it handled.

So it reminds me of that. It reminds me that because I am the mother of a three, a very active three-year-old. There's not a whole lot of stillness, stillness. So I've learned in, especially over the holidays that, um, when, when Genevieve's home there, isn't a lot of stillness.

And if there is, it's not for long, so I have to be intentional about carving out some stillness during the week. And I am not good at that because again, I love to work, but I also don't know how to not work from nine to five. Like just sit down and crack shit out

I would get it done.

Debbie: but I get that because I have that in the back of my head, it's quarter to four and I feel like I'm done. Uh, yeah, it's not four yet.

Michelle: So that is something that I have to learn how to rearrange my days, because part of it is, is that when I managed restaurants, you know, you have a shift, right. And then when I was in corporate and, uh, when I was in a leadership role, you have to be the first one there and the last one to go.

So how many years of that did I do more than I'm going to admit to on, on public record here, but a lot. And so it's just, I have to undo that. And my mom always jokes. She said, because my brother's the same way.

She said, I wish I was a great mom. I raised some great kids, but I really screwed you up in one area.

What's that mom, your work ethic. I'm like, well, I can rather have a strong one. Then it's easier to go the other way, how to be still. So that's my word. 

We'll have to go get Nicole on the next one. So that's it. Y'all for word of the year. It's just. A great way to set your intention and to maintain it in a very, very, very simple way. And if you don't have a planner that you look at every day, that you can just reprint it, grab your dry erase marker.

Put it on your mirror, grab a sticky, put it on your computer wherever you need to.

Debbie: We'll do it as the background on your computer for the year.

Michelle: Are you going to switch it? as it's somewhere, you can see it because it's easy to make all these intentions and not follow through.

So, yeah. So let us know, drop us a note, uh, designed for the creative mind on Instagram, a tag, Debbie tab, Megan tag me, whatever. If you guys think about it, drop us a note. DME.

I'd love to hear what your word is. And while I'm reminding you to go drop us a note, let me also remind you to leave a review anywhere you're catching the podcast, please. Michelle: It really does help us keep stay relevant.

And finally. For those of you who can benefit from even more resources surrounding the business of running your interior design business, join the growing community on Facebook. Uh, my, my Facebook's private, my private group on Facebook.

It's called the interior designers business launchpad and. We come in once a week and do a little mini-training. It's a great community. And if you are in there, you can watch for some fun announcements that will be coming through in 2022.

So I hope everybody had a wonderful holiday season. I hope everybody listening. If you're listening in real-time has a wonderful January and a kickoff to 2022.  And whenever you're listening, I hope you're doing well. And I hope you got something from us.

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