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I am grateful to have been knee-deep in EQ this past year, teaching it and practicing it. My immersion is helping me in many areas of my life – including my annual “goal setting “retreat.” 

Usually, I would be on the beaches of Mexico right NOW conducting my 2021 retreat. It has been my go-to location for years — I 100% unplug and get some solitude – no sounds other than the waves and my breathing. 

Sadly, I am not there this year. 

However, what I would be “accomplishing” during that trip is not wavering despite the location shift – selecting my one Word for 2021 and writing my 2021 goals and rhythms. 

I hadn’t made the connection between my annual New Year’s routine and the vital skillset of EQ (Self-Awareness, Self-Regulation, and Empathy) until this year. A client asked me to focus on EQ for a series of calls in January, so I was already thinking about EQ content in preparation for those sessions. Suddenly it hit me; I have been utilizing EQ skills for years during my goal setting retreat without realizing that I was using them. 

I’m hopeful that at least one of these three examples of “EQ skills applied” might help you as you embark on a new year filled with hope and inspiration! 


Step 1 in Empathy is to identify the roadblocks to listening and responding with Empathy, and Step 2 is to remove those roadblocks. While I’m not using “Empathy” in my goal setting retreat, I DO need to identify and remove roadblocks so I can “listen” to myself better. 

I have learned over the years that to get to the root of what I need to work on as I strive towards being my best self, I must completely disconnect. No humans, no TV (not that I watch TV anyway), no radio, no distractions. Distractions are my roadblock. 

Deliberate, disconnected time to reflect where we are coming from, where we are now, and where we want to go is essential. We cannot do that effectively with other sources of “noise” coming in. 


  • What gets in the way of you being able to reflect deeply? Is it the environment? A time of day? Other people? Could a roadblock to listening/ discovering self is pride or fear? 
  • What are you going to do to remove your roadblocks to truly “listen” to yourself? 


We’ve all heard phrases like “failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” I agree! Here is where the work begins. This work starts by looking into that proverbial mirror on the wall – in other words, the EQ skill of Self-Awareness. 

My go-to kick-off exercise every year is reading the book, The One Word That Will Change Your Life. It is a simple yet powerful process that works …if you go all-in. The read itself will take you 30 minutes, then the work a bit longer. The book asks you three simple questions across several dimensions: mental, emotional, financial, and physical. 

When you’re ready to take a look in that mirror, remember that we talked about no judgment during self-awareness. Seek to learn and explore. Where are you starting? It is not good or bad; it is just your baseline. 


I strongly encourage you to use a journal so that you can read back through it as you go along. You can circle themes or words that seem to repeat or be reinforced. 

Use the three questions as your journal entries. Just write, write, write. 

As you start to narrow down to a few words… Start to see how they apply to the different dimensions. Clarity will come to you. Don’t rush it. Your Word will come. 


And finally, self-regulation. This EQ skill directly comes into play as I work through my other go-to, The Compound Effect

Whereas One Word is my “what” for the year, Compound is my “how” for the year. The book is filled with fundamentals to get me grounded and focused on the macro and micro goals for the year, quarter, and weeks ahead. 

I create strategies and tactics that I need to self-regulate to achieve success in my one Word and my goals. 


  • What does it look like when you live your Word successfully? How do you know you are succeeding? 
  • What gets in the way of you living your Word? How can you fix that? Who can help? 
  • What are the habits that you need to stop/ that get in your way? What routines do you want to start to help you achieve your best year yet? 
  • What goal setting technique/ tracker are you going to use? When and how often will you check in with your progress? 

2021 will be my best year yet. 

I know this because each year keeps getting better. Not because of outside influences, but because of my inside – the things that I can control. I keep learning how to be more honest with myself (self-awareness), I remove roadblocks to that self-awareness (empathy steps 1 & 2), and I create strategies, utilize checklists, and empower people who hold me accountable (self-regulation). 

My 2021 word is Faith. Your Word will be different. What is not different is the work required to get there. 

Author Doreen Linneman

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