30 Mar Abracadabra! The Magic of Power Words for You and Your Team
The word abracadabra has been associated with magic and magicians for centuries. Along with the wave of a magic wand, it’s used as an incantation that makes the magic happen.
There are different theories about the origin of the word Abracadabra. My favourite alludes to the power of where we put our attention:
“I create as I speak”
Simply, the words we use have the power to create change in the real world.
Unless you’re a magician, abracadabra is a pretty meaningless word. However, any word can be used to create magic in your life. I call these Power Words. Over the past couple of years, I’ve used Power Words to transform my life (and you can do it too).
A few years ago I went through a major funk.
I felt stuck and dispassionate about my work and that funk was starting to seep into my life in general.
Despite self reflection and goal setting, I still didn’t feel motivated. The goals weighed me down, fuelling my burnout. They represented a to-do list I was painfully aware I should be doing, but wasn’t.
Instead of beating myself down, I acknowledged that at that point goals weren’t working for me. I knew that I needed to change my approach to reignite the purpose and passion in my life.
I suspected I could make progress in my life without goals if I focused on constant improvement. I just needed a compass to help direct me. A friend, Paul Frazer, inspired me to focus on a “theme” to guide me. I’ve since renamed themes as “POWER WORDS”.
Over the past couple of years, I’ve committed to setting a Power Word in January. Last year when I choose gratitude, I had no idea that it was going to be the gift that kept me grounded through the loss of my mother.
The Difference Between Goals And Power Words
Goals are something that we experience only after we have reached them. On the other hand, Power Words help you create and cultivate qualities in the present moment. By shifting your focus from goals to ongoing improvement, you can have more of what you want in your life, right now.
Instead of being daunted by a huge goal, a better approach is to make continuous micro changes that are easy to commit to and keep. Power Words help you focus on what you want from life and help you navigate the small choices every day that accumulate into substantial change.
While they are perfect for someone like me who isn’t motivated by traditional goal setting, Power Words can also be used by those who are goal-oriented as an anchor to keep them focused on the qualities that will help them be successful in their pursuits.
The Benefits of Power Words
A Power Word has power by the simple fact that you infuse it with power. Each time you use one, it becomes more powerful. This isn’t “magic” – it’s neuroplasticity. Every time you practice your Power Word, it makes your neural pathway stronger. This is how habits are created.
Power Words help you create clarity, purpose and passion. It’s easy to underestimate the potency of the simple act of committing to a Power Word, but they really do work because they are such an easy and effective way to create change in bite size chunks.
Some of the amazing benefits I’ve experienced in myself and seen in others include:
- More focus and commitment.
- Increased happiness as you recognize more of the qualities that you want in your life.
- The ability to better bounce back from challenges, disappointments and loss.
- Feeling less overwhelmed by all the things you feel you have to do and all the things you think you should be doing.
How To Pick A Power Word
While some might find the process easy and quick, it’s taken me time to settle my Power Word. I think it’s because I need a word that feels meaningful, authentic and moving to me. It’s something I have to feel committed to.
Here’s an exercise that will help you find yours:
1. Make a list of what you want more of in your life.
Consider all the important areas of your life – family, work, health, friends.
2. Identify the emotion
If I had this <change> in my life, then I would feel <blank>.
3. Look for a common theme and consider words with similar meanings.
Sometimes just a small adjustment in meaning can be the difference in finding a Power Word that really gets you juiced.
If you are needing inspiration, download The Little Book Of Power Words: Tricks and Tools To Create Magic In Your Life, including a list of over 400 Power Words.
4. Make sure it’s growth focused and stated in the positive.
You are looking for a Power Word that creates more of what you want in your life, rather than being focused on what you don’t want. For example, bravery is more effective than fearless.
5. Take your Power Word for a test run.
It’s ok to play around with your new Power Word. You aren’t married to it. Last year I changed mine after a couple of weeks because the original word because it didn’t feel right.
If you feel intimidated by a long commitment, like a year, try a monthly theme instead.
Turn Your Power Word Into a Daily Practice
Once you have chosen your Power Word it will take some intention and commitment to keep it top of mind through your day-to-day routines and interactions. There’s no wrong way to do this – so try different methods and find what works for you.
Last year I posted a photo every day on Instagram about my word, Gratitude. I set an alarm on my phone to remind me each day in case I forgot. It really helped me to stay focused when I committed to this small practice every day.
I would think about what I was grateful for all day, looking for a good photo. This helped bring gratitude into everything I did. I found that when I noticed something good and took a photo of it, I am much more present. Rather than having something either escape my notice, or just go straight in and out of my mind to be forgotten, the act of documenting it helps me remember it.
It wasn’t always easy. There were days I didn’t want to do it. Those were the days I needed to do it the most.
Power Words for your Whole Team
Your whole team can collaborate on a Power Word to help guide you. Your team may set a Power Word for a set period of time or have different Power Words for different projects or goals. For example, the Product Development team’s Power Word might be ‘Innovate’, while the Sales Team’s might be ‘Connect’ or ‘Empathy’.
Slow and Steady Wins the Race
I expect that you’ll reap great benefits by employing power words in your life. It won’t necessarily happen overnight though. The conversion of my attitude took some time. It is the daily practice of little things that can add up to a big change.
The good thing is, even though you might not notice a massive difference right away, you’ll still get benefits. Whether it’s a small shift in your mood, an increase in your productivity or just a little reminder of a positive change you’re trying to make, Power Words will add to your life and work (if you stick with it.)