So you chose a
New Year’s Resolution
“I’m going to lose 50 pounds.”
“I’m going to quit smoking.”
“I’m not having any soda.”
These aren’t resolutions. These are ill-planned, unmanageable wishes. Where is the plan in this? Where is the challenge? What are you going to do to lose 50 pounds? Will you exercise, change your diet, or both? Why do you gorge at night and eat like a bird during the day? Why do you want to drop this much weight? Is therapy in your resolution?
Resolutions are empty promises we make ourselves to trick us into thinking we are going to do different—better in the coming year. Without proper research, forethought, and planning, we’ll be making the same resolutions the following year.
“Just 30 pounds.”
“I’ll go down to a pack a week.”
“I’ll only have diet soda.”
Where does that leave us? Hamsters on a wheel going nowhere just waiting to be released from the cage we’ve created. I’ve learned that there are communities dedicated to circumventing the New Year’s resolution. 365 Word or OneWord, people research, meditate, question, and brainstorm before choosing a word they will live by in the coming year. I am in my 4th year and it has made a world of difference.
How to choose your word
Various sites provide different ways. I’ve researched them all to ignore for sake of giving my own opinion. Here’s what I do: I sit down and reflect on what the previous year looked like. Then I focus on what I want the upcoming year to look like. I may even think ahead 3-5 years. What worked? What didn’t? What changes do I need to make to ensure failures and dead ends are not repeated? Then I meditate for 5 seconds (kidding). I don’t like to ruminate so I look at it like I would a slitherlink puzzle. There is only one path that will work. Somewhere I hit a snag and I have to find it to fix it. I begin brainstorming until I find the word that won’t let go.
I start with my word from last year. It is my center. I ask yes or no questions. Did I succeed? Did living this word make me happy? Would I choose this word again? (You can have the same word two years in a row.) Each branch takes me on a new path. Then I move to open ended questions. How closely do I want the coming year to relate to last year’s word? What worked last year that I want to try again? Where do I need improvement? What was the source of last year’s failures? BE TRUTHFUL! Once you have a few words repeating over and over, you can begin to brainstorm what those words have in common. How do they fit into your goals for the coming year?
Seek definitions and a synonyms. Is there a word that relates to your brainstorming session and sums up your ideal year? Try reverse lookup. Define your year in Google search, adding the words reverse definition.
Keep going until a word calls to you.
Kids can do it too!
My 12-year-old son’s word the last two years was Maturity. He chose it because he’d seen that teachers and adults in his world tended to place more at his feet than he could handle. To him, maturity didn’t mean doing everything that was asked of him by an adult. It meant being willing to speak up for yourself, especially to adults. Being comfortable to shake off the wants of others to achieve his goals in school and in his social life. Maturity meant standing up for yourself against an adversary—no matter their age—with dignity and respect. The change I saw in him over the last two years has me worried that soon all of his innocence will dissipate and one day I’ll look up to see a curly haired young man with (even more) peach fuzz on his lip.
Set a word for the family
Life can get in the way of a lot of things. Ask yourself how many times you sacrificed family time in lieu of something far more fleeting. As a family, make the decision to live by one word this year. Are your finances struggling to stay in the positive? Budget. Do you have poor eating habits for dinner? Healthy What is something you value as a family you would like to see improve? Having a word in place to represent such things is one of the reasons I like choosing One Word to live by for the year. It allows you to open yourself to possibilities.
Sit down with your family and ask them if they’ve thought about their goals for the year. How can those goals tie into the family word? In the list below, family words revolve around supporting one another, spending quality time together, and change. Change is what we all strive for with New Year’s resolutions, right? Why not do it as a family?
Set a word for your career
Your job can become stagnant when you’ve been in the same position with the same company for an extended period of time. Whether punching a clock or receiving salary, ask yourself where you want to be by the end of the year. Do you still want to be punching the clock, making the same hourly rate or do you want more? More hours or more money? Ask your boss what is needed to get a raise or more hours, then map out how quickly you want to reach each milestone. Ask yourself what word will motivate you to stay on track and keep you moving forward.
Search your heart and your skill set for needed improvements and past accomplishments. How can those needed improvements lead to greater accomplishments? Can you gain access to the training necessary to take your skills to the next level? Does your job offer any type of reimbursement for education if it pertains to your job? Exhaust as many avenues as you can when it comes to reaching career goals. Doing so can could create a path to reaching goals in other areas of your life.
Map your success
Keep track of your successes (and failures). What works? What doesn’t? Check in with yourself on a regular basis. Be honest. Journaling or even just keeping a tracker can help. What paths did you go down that turned out to be a dead end? Brainstorm how you could turn that into success next time. Use a planner, notebook, or smart phone to remind yourself of any ideas you may have that will aide in living by your word(s). Keep them close at hand by creating a physical or digital vision board. Put them on your wall or save them as the background on your phone.
Schedule your milestones. Again, this is where a planner or digital calendar will come in handy. If your family wants to spend more time together, add family movie release dates to your calendar. Put those stepping stones outlined by your boss in your planner. When you know there will be an opportunity to take free classes at the local recreation center, put the flyers on your fridge. Keep goals visible.
Below is a short list of words to think on. Take your time looking at each one and decide if it fits your brainstorming session. Or put it at the center of your mind map and start branching out until you find a word that fits your goals. This is not an exhaustive list by any means. These are simply ideas. A few to get you started and to help you think. Don’t want to pick just one? Fine. Want to hyphenate? You can do that, too. The rules are not set in stone. What works for one may not work for another. Simply strive for the best you and the rest will fall into place.