“Is there a word that holds great meaning for you? […] For me it is a word that may strike you as odd: it is the word process.” – Eric Maisel

“The wiser a person is the simpler the language he uses to express his thoughts.” – Lucy Malory

What idea or theme is the most important for you to focus on in the upcoming year?* The thing that, if you were to manifest it, would have the greatest positive impact in your life. It can be a general concept, something related to a particular goal you’d like to accomplish, an energy that you want to cultivate, or a way of being that you’d like to embody.

Can you encapsulate that theme into a single word or two? Write it down somewhere – it’s going to be your guiding star for 2017. If a single idea feels incomplete, choose up to two more, for three words total.

Last year, my words were playful + authentic + masterpiece. Having clarity around those guiding principles helped me to overcome obstacles and make aligned choices, and I’m proud to say that my life has absolutely become more playful and authentic. I was even able to experience a masterpiece day (twice), and overall create a masterpiece year, which I’ll be sharing more about soon.

This year, my words are bold + seen + pro. Here’s why, along with one “ask” and a few resources.

*This short exercise is one of the simplest, quickest, and most powerful things you can do at this time of year. It’s also part of the 2017 Best Year Yet workbook, which you can grab a copy of here.

Bold. Seen. Pro.


Boldly and courageously creating a life and shared future that I’m inspired by and excited about. Not allowing fear to make decisions but continuously stretching myself outside of my comfort zone and taking bold, decisive, and aggressive action.

Bold is my #1 theme for the year. I actually had clarity on the other two first, and was discussing them with a client when she suggested that they sounded bold. After marinating for a few hours, I realized it was the perfect word – encapsulating the other themes with an exciting energy. Thanks Lia!


Both allowing what’s within me to come forth, as well as serving one million new people by sharing ideas, insights, and actions.

The first idea is similar to authenticity but with increased emphasis on bringing inner thoughts, feelings, and ideas to light. I have a tendency to withdraw in situations when I’m feeling afraid, hurt, vulnerable, etc., as well as to dismiss some of my visions as being foolish. But, I’ve learned that sharing my internal experiences and my craziest ideas – letting all of myself be seen – creates quicker resolutions, greater connections, and more exciting possibilities.

I’m also creating a tangible challenge for myself – to share insights, actions, and ideas by serving one million new people through public speaking, guest blog posts, podcasts, and traditional media appearances, including (hopefully) television. It’s going to be both challenging and fun, and definitely outside my comfort zone.**

This is an area where I’d love your support:

  • If you write for a blog, host a podcast or show, work for a magazine, or have any other type of community that I can add value to – including businesses inspired to create a more positive and empowered environment – please let me know how I can serve you or your group.
  • If you’re inspired by or have learned from anything I’ve shared with you, please pay it forward and share it with someone who might benefit from it. You can find links to the typical social sites + email at the bottom of every article.

**One of my mentors is currently running a free challenge to help us all get out of our comfort zones. It’s called The No Game – part of learning to master The Inner Game.


Taking imperfect action, shipping consistently, and generally “turning pro.” This includes returning to a more consistent publishing schedule, improving the website, and taking increased ownership of the future that we’re creating.

The word itself is inspired by Steven Pressfield’s brilliant work, The War of Art. (It was also Brian Johnson’s guiding theme a few years ago. If you haven’t signed up for his Optimize membership program yet, it’s the best $10 I invest every month.)

Here’s how Pressfield explains it, along with his ten qualities of the professional and additional descriptions from The War of Art:

“I mean the Professional as an ideal. The professional in contrast to the amateur. […] Consider the differences. The amateur plays for fun. The professional plays for keeps. To the amateur, the game is his avocation. To the pro, it’s his vocation. The amateur plays part-time, the professional full-time. The amateur is a weekend warrior. The professional is there seven days a week. […]

“Ten qualities of the professional:

  1. We show up every day.
  2. We show up no matter what.
  3. We stay on the job all day.
  4. We are committed over the long haul.
  5. The stakes for us are high and real.
  6. We accept remuneration for our labor.
  7. We do not over-identify with our jobs.
  8. We master the technique of our jobs.
  9. We have a sense of humor about our jobs.
  10. We receive praise or blame in the real world.

In addition, the professional…

  • “Has learned that success, like happiness, comes as a by-product of work.
  • Concentrates on the work and allows rewards to come or not come, whatever they like.
  • Knows that once he gets out into the action, his fear will recede and he’ll be okay.
  • Does not hesitate to ask for help.
  • Does not take failure (or success) personally.
  • Arms himself with patience, not only to give the stars time to align in his career, but to keep himself from flaming out in each individual work. He knows that any job, whether it’s a novel or a kitchen remodel, takes twice as long as he thinks and costs twice as much. He accepts that. He recognizes it as reality.
  • Will not tolerate disorder. He eliminates chaos from his world in order to banish it from his mind. He wants the carpet vacuumed and the threshold swept, so the Muse may enter and not soil her gown.
  • Knows that fear can never be overcome. He knows there is no such thing as a fearless warrior or a dread-free artist.
  • Respects his craft. He does not consider himself superior to it. He recognizes the contributions of those who have gone before him. He apprentices himself to them.
  • Conducts his business in the real world. Adversity, injustice, bad hops and rotten calls, even good breaks and lucky bounces all comprise the ground over which the campaign must be waged. The field is level, the professional understands, only in heaven.
  • Cannot let himself take humiliation personally. Humiliation, like rejection and criticism, is the external reflection of internal Resistance.
  • Endures adversity. He lets the birdshit splash down on his slicker, remembering that it comes clean with a heavy-duty hosing.
  • Reminds himself it’s better to be in the arena, getting stomped by the bull, than to be up in the stands or out in the parking lot.”

… all of which resonates deeply with me, as well as being reflected and expanded on in many of the articles I’ve written to date.

Words With Friends

Aside from getting clarity on what I’m going to work on embodying in 2017, I’ve had a lot of fun discussing other people’s themes as well. For example:

  • Grace – from Kristen, my P.I.C., love, and best amiga.
  • Assured – from a business partner.
  • Love – from our New Year’s Eve Uber driver.
  • Focused – from an awesome guest who wrote it on our Buddha board.

What Are Your Words?

Share them with your partner, family and friends. Share them with me on Twitter (@mbalchan), with a fun photo on Instagram (@mbalchan), or via email (michael@michaelbalchan.com).

Here’s to a fantastic 2017.