My Word of the Year for 2017: Essential | Lindsey Pollak's Blog

My Word of the Year for 2017: Essential

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In 2016 my life became a lot less hectic as I employed my word of the year: Simplify.

I added more breathing room in my schedule – and my closet – and adopted a general mantra that “less is more.” My year of simplifying was so fulfilling and freeing that I knew I wanted to build on the concept in 2017.

My 2017 word of the year came to me as I was doing yoga (cliche I know…). While standing in tree pose, I was thinking about my core, which led me to ruminating on core values, which led me to: What is essential? And that’s when it dawned on me. 2017 will be “The Year of Essentials.”

Every time I need to make a decision this year, I will ask, “Is it essential?” That goes for how I spend my money, how I spend my time and how I spend my energy.


The Fruits of a Simpler Life

When I look back on 2016, I feel peace and satisfaction that I was able to spend time doing more of what I wanted because I simplified. I could focus on spending more time with family and close friends and giving more of my time to fewer clients and to my daughter’s school.

When people think of simplifying, they often confuse it with “giving something up,” but it’s actually the opposite. Instead you’re concentrating your time and energy on fewer, more important things.

Financially, as a business owner, my quest to simplify included making sure I am working with the right vendors for me, and carefully tracking my finances on business development and other activities.

Deciding What’s Essential

And that is what leads me into my 2017 theme. And I wanted to share it with you because it is universal, but also very personal. What is essential to me may not be essential to you. For example…

  • Practicing yoga? Essential to me, but maybe not interesting to you.
  • Having a pet? Not essential to me. But for many of my friends, a pet is an essential source of joy.
  • Continually learning and reading? Essential to me.
  • Attending big networking events? Not essential to me. For someone newly starting their career, that might be at the top of their list. Right now I’m finding more value in small group events and one-on-one meetings.
  • Mentoring young people? Essential to me. My recent TEDx Talk clarified to me that we need more people championing millennials, and that is an essential part of my mission.

What will I do when I’m uncertain? I will remember the words of Greg McKeown, whose book Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, made a huge impression on me (clearly) and is an — ahem — essential read if you haven’t already checked it out. McKeown wrote:

“If it isn’t a clear yes, then it’s a clear no.”

The whole purpose of my Year of Essentials will be drilling down to what is most essential — to me and me only. One essential that will not waver? The dialogue I continue to have with my readers. So, for that, I thank you for being part of my 2017 journey. I know it’s going to be a great year!

Have you adopted a word of the year? I’d love to hear about it, and if you want to join me in the “Year of Essentials,” please share your current list of essentials in the comments!

Lindsey Pollak is the leading voice on millennials in the workplace, trusted by global companies, universities, the world’s top media outlets — and, most importantly, by millennials themselves. A New York Times bestselling author, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her keynote speeches have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.


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  1. Awesome word of the year Lindsey.

    My word for the year is “resilience”. It came to me after I did a talk towards the end of last year and I wasn’t happy with what I delivered. Initially I had a complete melt-down to what I labelled as a failed talk. Then it dawned on me – how can I be talking about ‘resilience’ and ‘growth mindset’ to others if I couldn’t practice it on myself! I was completely in a fixed mindset frame of mind but after that insight I got so excited to learn from my experience and not be afraid to fail. And to be more forgiving of myself when I fail.

    My essentials area: Growing my business, reading, mentoring, family, exercise, laughter (from the belly) and very good coffee 🙂

    • @Celeste – I love your list of essentials. Thanks for sharing! And “resilience” is a great word of the year. Good luck and let me know how I can support you. – Lindsey

  2. Kendall Jordan says:

    Great word of the year Lindsey!
    My word of the year is “Motivation” because after graduating from college (Penn State..We Are!) and starting a new career it is hard to balance my career and personal life. I hope in 2017 that I will continue to be motivated to work hard at my job, do well in graduate school and enjoy the small things in life!

    My 2017 Essentials:
    1. Reading, make time to enjoy reading the books on my Amazon list.
    2. Family, spend more time with my parents and brother before he goes away to college.
    3. Exercise, prompt a more healthy life style for myself.
    4. Leisure, enjoy my free time, travel and make memories I will not forget.
    5. Focus, study because graduate school will not be easy but it will be worth it.
    6. Development, expand my knowledge at work and always strive to be better.

  3. Joe Kosinski says:

    Your article resonates with many things I’m reading now. The One Thing (Keller takes 223 pages; you do it in a few paragraphs). Start with Why. Sort of does “essential” for organizations. I know a NFP CEO who is reenergizing his organization around “Start”. Great time of the year to be promoting these essentials. Thanks Lindsey!

    • @Joe – Thank you! I actually just started reading The One Thing and am finding some good nuggets. Thank you for the nice comment. – Lindsey

  4. Karla says:

    Hi Lindsey-
    This post hit a spot! I have been trying to define my new year’s resolutions since last year and it has been so hard. We, as women and millennials and go-getters, want to do everything!
    The mental shift to focusing only on ‘what’s essential’ has made all the difference for me!

  5. Robin says:

    Thank you for your post – it really made me pause and think…and I like your 2016 word ‘Simplify’ (as well as your new 2017 word). I will start with ‘simplify’ since it resonated so much with me. Looking forward to where it takes me in the year.

    Happy New Year! and I wish you great success.


    • @Robin – Thank you for the nice comment. I love “simplify” too and am glad it resonates with you! – Lindsey