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Five Words that Change Everything

(First appeared in WRAL TechWire.)

On New Year’s Day morning, I watched a clip from Jimmy Kimmel’s interview with Michelle Obama. She said five words that instantly reframed my approach to 2023 (and basically my life here forward).

She said, “Fear makes our world small.”

Now in that moment, I felt two very different things. Initially, my stomach flipped and I took a quick breath because it felt like she was calling me out. It was like she knew I was holding back in some places and took the opportunity to expose me on late night TV. But within a few seconds I regained my center and got a familiar charge of motivation. I immediately sent myself a text with those five words as a reminder that sinking into my fears simply keeps my world small and familiar. I also made a promise to myself to dig deep this year and find courage in the big and small moments ahead.

That said, what is the promise you will make to yourself this year… and when’s the last time you made a promise (to yourself) and kept it?

Resolutions are one thing. Promises are something entirely different. While they both require action and often involve change, promises are viewed as an unbreakable covenant, both personal and sacred. Honoring a promise can place us in new territory that requires us to push past our fears and do things we’ve never done before.

Here’s a formula for making 2023 a year that is both promising and promise-filled.

1. It’s never a one-and-done.

Change happens when you recommit every single day. Write your promise-to-self in your daily calendar, make it a screensaver or throw it up on your mirror.  Trust me, reading, “Fear makes my world small – move with courage” while flat ironing my hair does wonders for how I approach the day.

2. How deep is the well?

Discover the root of why this promise is important to you. Ask yourself: How will my life be better if I honor it? What if I don’t?

3. Get comfortable being uncommon.

It’s okay to be different. It’s actually pretty dope to make choices that others wouldn’t. Take pride in yourself and the fact that you’ve decided to do a thing others won’t.

4. Let your people in.

I’ll be the first to tell you that you don’t need me or this column to make choices that separate you from the pack. But if this helps, I’m here for you.

Likewise, finding people who either share your goals or simply want you to win can be incredibly helpful. Our Travelers tell me that repeatedly. Whether they’re part of 28 Days of Reinvention or our Living Beyond Burnout cohort programs, all of our Travelers point back to the difference being in community makes. It gives them the extra juice to go the distance.

So this year, don’t quit on yourself.  You matter and your goals matter.

Set those resolutions aside and honor your promises instead.


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