What Word Math Is and Why I Do It

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In many of the articles on this site, I begin with a section that I like to call Word Math. If you’re wondering what this is and where it came from, you’re about to learn! And while you’re learning, you’ll also discover why I think it’s beneficial to your ability to set and achieve goals.

Word Math is finding the definitions of each word in a phrase and re-inserting each of them in place of the words themselves for a better understanding of those words and phrases. For example, in the phrase “Goals Are Important,” I would find the definition of “goals,” “are,” and “important” then insert those in place of the words in the original phrase to understand it better.

That’s a big deal because when we’re communicating, we don’t realize that we use a lot of words that we don’t really know the deeper meaning of. 

Once we can interpret what we really want to tell each other with our words, we’re better able to use that meaning to enhance our lives. This is especially true of goals.

So let’s dive right in and discover more about what this means, why I created it, and what that has to do with setting goals!

What is Word Math?

In math, we use functions, like y = mx + b or z = w + x to describe various phenomena in life. 

When I’m doing an algebra problem I can add equations together to get this:

y = mx + b

z = w + x

Therefore, y + z = mx + b + w + x

If that doesn’t make sense don’t worry, the important thing to know is that you can do this same thing with words too. 

Whenever we use the word “is,” we really mean “equal.” So I can use an equal sign anywhere I might use the word “is.” 

When defining a word, I’d say something like:

The definition of importance is of great significance or value; likely to have a profound effect on success, survival, or well-being.

I can then replace the word “is” with an equals sign (=), like this:

Importance = of great significance or value; likely to have a profound effect on success, survival, or well-being.

My word is like the “y” or “z” equations above and the definition is like the “mx + b” or “x + z.” A phrase then is just the addition of multiple word definitions. 

So I consider “Goals Are Important” the same as “x + y + z” where x, y, and z are each of the three words in the phrase. 

Because the definitions are equivalent to those words themselves, I can substitute the definitions in for x, y, and z in “x + y + z” to get a new, expanded phrase that I can understand better than just “Goals Are Important.” 

It usually takes some tweaking to make the new phrase as clear as possible. 

But every time I do this I see the deeper meaning in the words I’m using and thus can better apply them to improve my life, as I’ll explain next.

I Do Word Math Because It Makes Understanding Words and Phrases Easier

The reason human beings created words was to communicate meaning with one another. Somewhere in our history since that happened, we lost this crucial understanding of the purpose, or goal, of words. 

In other words, we need to get a better understanding of the goal of each word we use if we want to communicate effectively. This might seem obvious, but if we look at the definition of some words, we see why it’s important.

Take the word goals, for example. I can use that word to mean soccer goals or life goals. 

A goal in soccer is a physical, concrete thing. Knowing the meaning of that word is easy because I can see a picture of it or touch it. 

Life goals, on the other hand, are a little more difficult to understand. Is running three times a week or a goal? Or is it losing 10 pounds? Is it both? Neither? You may think of one thing while I’m imagining another.

You can easily see how confusing life becomes without a deeper understanding of the words you’re using. 

Just think of how hard it would be to play soccer without knowing what a goal is. How can you expect to reach your life goals, then if you don’t know what they look like?

It gets even worse, and thus word math becomes even more important, when we have multiple words in a phrase. 

Looking again at the phrase “goals are important,” you can tell that none of these words is a physical object. All of them are ideas and need further defining to understand their meaning.

But once we understand what they look like, it’s easy to see where to head next if we want to utilize these principles to change our lives.

Wrapping Up

Before I created Goal Engineering, I was an engineer for five years. I’ve always loved math and science which is why I pursued engineering. 

But in the last few years, I’ve also discovered that I have a deep love for and skills in writing and using words to make the world a better place.

After racking my brain for nearly two years on how to use words to make a difference, I realized that the best way would be to combine my love of words and my love of engineering. 

That’s when, with the help of many writer friends, Goal Engineering was born. So in a way, word math represents a core reason I started this site in the first place. 

However, you don’t need to know what word math is or how to do it yourself to get something out of this site. 

I created it primarily to help you and me understand the goals of words better. Once we do that, it’s easy to harness the potential that is within their deeper meanings and purpose.