Nothing But the Ruth
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Nothing But the Ruth!

What’s Your Word for 2017?

By Ruth Carter

A few weeks ago, a member of my business mastermind group posed a simple but profound question: What word encapsulates your hopes, goals and feelings for 2017?

It’s a challenging question. As an entrepreneur, December is a time to wind down this year’s projects, clearing the decks for what’s to come. This question forced me to think about my theme for the next 12 months and where I want to be, personally and professionally, a year from now.

My Word for 2017: “Invest”

I had considered the question for less than a minute when my theme word popped into my head: Invest. For the next year, I will be putting in considerable time and energy investing in my business, my health and my relationships.

Some of the large projects on my docket are doing another book, launching my first online course, and taking the California bar exam in July. (Yes, I know I’m a masochist.) There are also smaller projects, like updating the speaker page on my website. Along with these projects, I want to make diet, exercise, sleep and recreation higher priorities. (As Captain Kirk said, “The more complex the mind, the greater the need for the simplicity of play.”)

Also, I want to invest more time in maintaining and developing relationships with the people who matter to me. It’s too easy to get wrapped up in the minutiae of everyday life — especially with the stress of client work and filing deadlines — and I go too long between real conversations with people I value.

Other Lawyers’ Theme Words for 2017

After seeing the responses from my mastermind group, I wanted to get the perspective of my fellow lawyers. So I asked some what their theme word for 2017 will be, and their responses were equally thought-provoking:

  • Grow. “I am of the firm belief that we should always be growing and improving ourselves. The growth mindset makes me a better attorney as I direct my growth towards improving the lives of my clients, increasing the value I offer every year. I compete with myself so that I may use my last year’s self as a measuring stick for my improvement. It is not an exact science but each year I strive to grow and be better.” — John Kokolakis, The Kokolakis Law Firm, New York
  • Leadership. “It’s obvious to me the world needs better role models and leaders. People who are not afraid to let their voice be heard while promoting justice and encouraging equal rights and a strong compassion for others. As a lawyer, I’m in a unique position to help make this happen.” — Mitch Jackson, Jackson & Wilson, California
  • Intentional. “Many times, our personal and business lives just happen and we are along for the ride. I will intentionally apply our values  ‘Whole health, Continuous improvement, Creativity, Bravery, Optimism and Energy’ diligently and deliberately with how I spend my resources and make decisions.” — Billie Tarascio, Modern Law, Arizona
  • Change. “With a new president about to take office, I have to be ready for change but at the same time figure out a constructive way to make my voice known on the things I don’t want changed.” — Ralph Blake, Blake Law Firm, Arizona
  • Delegate. “I’m a small business owner and service professional and I know I am doing way too many things that could and, quite frankly, should be delegated to someone else. So here is my declaration: I will identify three tasks that someone else can do. I will document these tasks. I will find the person (there are many options) to do these tasks. I will free up my time to do the tasks that complement my strengths.” — Peggy Gruenke, CPN Legal, Ohio

Image by Sassy Lasses, used with permission.

What’s Your Word for the Coming Year?

I’ve seen dozens of responses to the above question in the past few weeks. One of the most interesting things, even among entrepreneurs, is that it is rare for two people to give the same answer. The exercise demonstrates that’s there’s no one way to pursue success, and it’s quite revealing of a person’s priorities. (If you work with a team, you may want to try this exercise with them.)

What about you? What word will be your mantra for 2017? Please share it with us as a comment below. We’d love to hear what will be driving you for the next year.

Image ©ImageZoo.

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Ruth Carter Ruth Carter

Ruth Carter — lawyer, writer and professional speaker — is Of Counsel with Venjuris, focusing on intellectual property, business, internet and flash mob law. Named an ABA Journal Legal Rebel, Ruth is the author of “The Legal Side of Blogging for Lawyers,” as well as “Flash Mob Law: The Legal Side of Planning and Participating in Pillow Fights, No Pants Rides, and Other Shenanigans.” Ruth blogs at and

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