I ditched the “resolutions” several years ago because, like most people I talk to (you know who you are ), I rarely stuck with them past the first month or two, leaving me feeling defeated.
Now I choose a word at the beginning of each year and use it to guide my decisions and create new ways to be intentional about it.
For example, one of the US’s top New Year’s resolutions for the last few years was to eat healthier. Ok, but what was the actual goal? To lose weight, feel better, get healthy? Eating healthy alone is only one part of achieving those goals and sustaining the results. It requires actual lifestyle changes.
So, I chose the word “healthy.” I focused on this word throughout the year, basing many of my decision on it. First, I did some research to learn what “healthy” actually means. I pushed myself to get more sleep, limited work emails to business hours (well, mostly), and worked with a trainer to show me how to exercise more effectively (newsflash: your workouts don’t have to drive you to the point of utter exhaustion!). When I found myself going for a snack, I asked myself, “Am I actually hungry, or am I just craving something, tired, or bored?
I also began tracking my food in Fitness Pal. Ok, I can feel some of you rolling your eyes at that. I did, too, at first. Until that showed me what a grazer I am and how much those little handfuls of things here and there really added up. It also surprised me to learn how misguided my idea of eating healthy has been.
These are just a few of the decisions I made to impact my overall health. It may seem like a lot, but they were made over the span of a year. And, of course I had setbacks. But, I didn’t feel completely defeated with each one because I knew it was all part of a bigger picture, a plan in progress to make a sustainable lifestyle change.
I’m no expert, but if you want to try a word of the year, here are some tips I’ve used for choosing one. 1. BRAINSTORM Think over several words before deciding on one. You could brainstorm your own or Google a random list. It helps if you take a moment first to think about what you want. What are your goals at this point in your life?
2. STRIKE A NERVE Circle the ones that hit a nerve, make you pause a moment, or evoke some emotion. Cross out the ones that don’t.
3. STAND OUT As you go about your days, do any of those words pop into your head? One more than the others?
4. DECIDE At some point, it’s time to choose a word. To be honest, I find the word typically chooses me. Somehow it just clicks after I’ve taken some time on the previous steps. If not, select one of those words and go with it. It’s not written in stone. You can always change it if one does pop into your head later or you feel the word isn’t a good fit for your goals.
5. LET IT BE YOUR GUIDE Once you have your word, use it to guide your decisions and activities throughout the year. Journal about it or write it down somewhere you’ll be reminded of it now and then.
6. CELEBRATE THE LITTLE THINGS Give yourself some props when you do something that supports your word. When you do something that doesn’t, don’t treat yourself with kid gloves (I don’t believe in participation trophies, but that’s a discussion for some other time), but also give yourself some grace. We’re not perfect. We make mistakes. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
So what’s your New Year’s Resolution or Word of the Year? My word for 2023 is “Flourish.” I’d love to hear about yours! Reach out to email@example.com.