Resolution Revolution: A Better Way to Start Your Year

The regulars at the gym are already joking about it.

“Have a good workout now,” they say. “Cuz next week, it’ll suck in here.”

That’s because all the folks who have – yet again – made their New Year’s Resolutions will show up. They’ll stick around for a while. Then, around St. Patrick’s Day, the regulars get to have their old gym back.

Last week, I overheard a radio talk show. The hosts were discussing the most common New Year’s Resolutions and the average success rate. Among the most common were Get Organized, Be More Spiritual, Lose Weight, Quit Smoking, and Spend More time with the Family.

I don’t know about you, but this kind of To-Do List approach to life transformation does little to inspire me. And it doesn’t surprise me at all that the success rates were pretty depressing.

Why Resolutions Don’t Work

The reason most resolutions don’t work is that they address only one level of your life. The DO level. It’s the DO-HAVE-BE model. “I will DO this thing.” (i.e., Lose weight) “So I can HAVE this other thing” (Self-Esteem) and I can BE this thing. (Confident.)

The average New Year’s Resolution doesn’t address the core of the issue – the “BE” level.

The best order for creating positive changes in your life is the BE-DO-HAVE model. This means you start from the BE level. When you begin changing on the BE level of your life, then the DO level and the HAVE level follow more easily.

When you start only on the DO level, then all the blocks on the BE level will often become the obstacles you can’t overcome.

A Better New Year’s Ritual

Several years ago, my friend Kathy and I decided that, instead of making resolutions, we would pick a word that would guide us throughout the year. It would be our touchstone. It would remind us of living our lives at the BE level.

This didn’t mean that we didn’t take action. It meant that our actions were inspired from the BE level. In fact, I took more action than ever with this new approach!

Since then, I’ve included this idea in my newsletter at the start of each New Year – and the response is always huge. Last year, I blogged about it. Now, I regularly hear from people who have created big changes in their lives because they focused on one word.

How to Choose Your Word for 2008

Look through the list below if you need some guidance. Get quiet over the next few days. And pick a word for the year.

Just one word. That’s all.

Then, hold that word in your mind throughout the year, and let your word guide you to take action.

For instance, let’s take one of the examples above. Let’s say you are one of the many people who would normally choose “Get Organized.” You look around to see clutter and crap all over your life. You’re tired of the chaos. So, you think, “I need to get organized. That should be my Resolution this year.”

But then you read this blog. You decide to try it.

You sit with your clutter. You spend a few days pondering words that will inspire you. You realize in an “Ah-Ha!” moment that you tend to cling to lots of things. You’re scared to let go. So you choose the word “Release” because it inspires you in a bigger way than “Get organized.”

So, every time you approach your clutter you remind yourself of that word. “Release,” you say softly. You start to let the clutter go. Eventually, you realize that you’re still holding on to lots more than just physical clutter. You realize that you hold onto resentment at old relationships. “Release,” you remind yourself. You realize that holding on is affecting your diet and health. “Release” applies to some of the extra weight you’ve gained as well. Throughout the year, you can see clearly how much you hold on. “Release” is your touchstone. It grows you throughout the year. It becomes your guiding force, not your harsh standard.

Your clutter became your teacher simply because you shifted your intent towards it. This wouldn’t have happened if you’d opted only to “Get Organized.”

What word to choose?

Many people know immediately which word resonates with them. For others, a little contemplation is required.

I’ve compiled a list of possible words below. As you read through them, see if one stands out for you. It’s tempting to choose four or five, believing that you can do it all! (Or that you’re too messed up to narrow your flaws down to one helpful word!) I recommend that if you can’t choose just one, narrow it down to no more than three.

One is ideal. It gives you focus. If you master that one word, you can choose another one in June.


Here are a few snippets from the comments from Last Year’s Blog post on this topic —

“… it seems that my 2007 word is ‘health.’ During this lovely time off from work I’ve made a small change toward it – I’ve eliminated the sugar from my morning Earl Grey – “

“Thank you for posting this blog on resolutions. I have shared this with many of my friends. My word is “home.” I am in the process of revisiting the idea 10 years after moving from my childhood home in MN. I have been roaming the US and abroad for that ten years with a lack of desire for grounding. Its hit me this past year that the time is near to look for that place and define what and who is there–what an exciting journey.”

After much deliberation as well as discussion/brain storming with friends for over a month, I have at last come up with my word for 2007. In 2005, my word was “survive” (the love of the first half of my life had just passed away in mid December) and for 2006 my word was “easy” because I was just coasting through life. Along about October, I decided that since I was alive, I might as well live wide open/out loud. So I’d like to announce that my 2007 word is THRIVE!

Due to a general lack of clarity, I let the universe choose (kind of) – I wrote all your words down, added some of my own, cut them out, put them in a box and picked one! So, my word is “wealth”. My first response was to put it back in the box and pick again! But I didn’t, having learned that sometimes facing and moving through the strongest resistance means experiencing the strongest growth.

My words over the last 3 years have been peace, forgiveness, and focus and have come to me instantly. I’ve grouped my favorites for me into doublets: gratitude/abundance, discipline/balance, self love/spirit. I am going to settle like a good dog tonight, journal and find the answer for me for the year….i am enjoying the contemplation.

My word is vulnerability– letting go of control, opening to the stuff I don’t have answers to, FEELING what is uncomfortable and going even deeper. I’m realizing that to be truly compassionate I have to know my own vulnerability.

I think my word shall be ‘Listen’. Listen to friends, listen to family, listen to God, listen to my heart. You’d think somebody who talks as little as i do would be better at listening, but it’s not necessarily true.

Please feel free to share your word – or your experience with last year’s word! Happy New Year everybody!

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  1. says

    I read about the ‘word for the year’ in a note Michele posted about her card & the process on kaleidosoul (a soulcollage group) :)
    I spent Nov with ‘Soul Coaching’, & have been in a spiritual book group for several years, & the word that came was ‘Presence.’ When I got to my massage haven a little later in the AM, & drew an angel card – you guessed it; “presence!” An angel bathed in light. I often draw an angel to watch over a season – fun that the angel & word match.
    Now to make the soulcollage card to go along with . . . one friend works on ‘treasure maps’ (vision boards) ~ New Years as part of her process, & have been thinking of that as well.

    thank you~

  2. says

    I joke every year that my New Year’s resolution is to give up smoking. Since I haven’t touched a cigarette since college (nearly 20 years), it helps me start out the year feeling nice and successful when, in fact, I haven’t done anything.

    I have issues with anger and its flip side, anxiety. My word and intention for 2009 will be “serenity,” which is the antithesis of both.

  3. says

    Christine, I spent this year cradling the word “fruition” with powerful results for my art and personal life. My word for 2009 is “flourish” — “to be in a vigorous state; thrive.” What a powerful image for the next chapter of my life. Other definitions of flourish are “to be in one’s prime; be at the height of fame, excellence, influence, etc” and “to be successful; prosper…to grow luxuriantly, or thrive in growth, as a plant.” It will be an exciting and fulfilling New Year, of that I’m certain. Thanks for your wonderful blog and newsletter!

  4. says


    In an uncertain 2009 I believe in the power of sharing ways
    two or more of us can accomplish greater things together than alone…

    – IF we get clear and specific about the methods (learning from each other),
    how to find the sweet spot of mutual benefit.

    It is not a year to be about “you” or “me” but about adept groups of us.

    When we agree on actions and projects
    that enable us to use our best talents
    we naturally become higher-performing
    and happier together.

  5. Joni says

    I was reading one of those grocery store freebie magazines — “Skirt” and saw a delightful little drawing by an artist, Summer Pierre, called “Resolution Revoltion”. I was able to find it online, and just finished sending it to some friends, while listening to Christine’s call…. and THEN I bumped into her blog topic here .. so BINGO, I will share the link to the drawing! Enjoy! Joni

  6. says

    Oh Christine, I am so glad that you’re inspiring this..again! And, it was meant to be! Last year I just “happened to” read about this on a friend’s blog, and the same thing happened this year! I am indeed in sync with what’s seeking me..and the energy you generate.

    My guiding word for 2009 is “Bloom!” I have an affinity to flowers and words associated with them i.e. budding, blossoming, blooming, seedling, fragrant, etc. Flowers and other nature that blooms is a strong metaphor for life to me. I witness so many things Bloom in some of unlikely places, or so it seems; but that’s a strong testimony to “bloom where you’re planted” and to fulfiling your Divine Nature, no matter what. “Bloom” has been whispering to me for a while; I’ve made many mandalas and written about this regularly on my blog(s). Here’s one brief entry I’d like to share with you:

    Moving into 2008, my word was “Believe” which I wrote about here…it’s indeed words and art from Spirit…my Muse.. I even found the video for “Defying Gravity” to include with it. Inspiration truly is abundant! here is is…please enjoy:

    I look forward to checking back here, to see what everyone’s up to.
    Cheers! ~Cheryl

  7. says

    Hmm. No wait — ‘Hmm’ is not Bossy’s 2009 word of the year, she was just saying hmmm.
    Actually, let’s stick with ‘hmm’. Probably most appropriate.

  8. says

    I particularly like how you use the chosen word as the stepping stone to deeper self-inquiry. I agree that investigating why that one word in particular is the one that comes up for us in this particular moment is only a clue, a key into our soul.

    I’d also add that it may be useful to notice what arises in the body as you think of your chosen word (or any word). Do your shoulders get tight? Do you smile? Do you get a headache?

    While the mind can play tricks on us, sometimes making us believe what isn’t real, the body works only with true experience. So, listening to what the body says to the words you contemplate can also be a great tool for self-knowledge.

    Great post, Christine! Thanks for something fresh for the New Year!

  9. vicki says


    That speaks to me as I have been anything but open for years.

    Now to figure out how to get closer to there.

  10. says

    I’m on board with the resolution revolution! My word for the year is fearless.

    Like Christine, I’m skeptical of the value and effectiveness of traditional new year’s resolutions. I ask my coaching clients to think about the feeling or state of being they hope to acheive through the various goals and actions of their traditional resolutions. Then we look at the wide variety of creative ways they can acheive those feeling states right now, today, as well as throughout the year. I wrote more about this in this blog post: “What To Do Next With Your New Year’s Resolutions.” Its at

    Thanks Christine, for a great post that is creating a more powerful 2009 for so many of us.


  11. says

    I started living out a word every year about 10 years ago. I started with the word persistence, picked from a hat full of words. It was a hard year starting up a new business but that word sure got me through and now I will have persistence for life.

    Other words that I enjoyed were Romance, Ease and Funky. Right now I’m experiencing Joy.

    One tip, I’ve found that living out a word that has emotion and that is a way of being is the key to having the word ‘Stick’.

  12. Rebecca says

    Be-Do-Have model reminds me of the three As: Awareness, Acceptance, Action.

    The three As are about how, before we take action on a problem, we need to have awareness about it, and then acceptance of it. We cannot take action to change something first, and have it work out.

  13. says

    This is by far the most awesome recommendation for the up and coming new year. I am a nutritional coach and have shared this concept with my clients and we are collectively making it our resolve to simplify the process of resolutions by focusing in on one word. What a concept. It’s amazing how that one word can encompass all sorts of spin offs. Thank you Christine.

  14. Ieva says

    I also want to thank you for this great idea. My friend shared this site with me by the end of previous year (2008), so I chose a word for the 2009. It was a real success, I have grown faster, learned a lot and become a better person with one word only :) This year I’m sharing this with my friends too and already found a word for the coming year.
    As the words are in my native language – Latvian – I did not find a good translation into english, so I’ll not be able to share the words with you :)

    Thanks again and I wish you a happy and successful New Year.

  15. Judy K says

    My word for 2010 is tolerance. I am a perfectionist so I need to have tolerance for my lack of ability to always do things perfectly. More importantly, I need to have tolerance for those who don’t move as quicly as I do, for those whose mind doesn’t process things as quickly as mine does and for those whose views and goals are very different from my own. I need to show tolerance when others don’t do things as I would have done them! I say a prayer every day that God will help me to become a better person and learning tolerance will be a big step in this direction!

  16. Carlay says

    I sat and thought for what seemed like forever. Browsing through forever. I needed a word to remind me to keep going. To press on. It came down to “advance.” I always seemed to stop and stare at the enormity of a problem and procrastinate, do everything possible but what I need to. Now, in 2010, I need to move on and go somewhere. I need to advance.

  17. nicole 86 says

    Hi, my motto for next year will be : let go
    let go of possesions, let go of toxic relationship, let go of bad habits, let go of anger, let go of resentment, let go of fear, let go of resolutions, let go of whatever prevent be from being free.
    Every night, I would like to be able to think i had at least one opportunity to let go.

  18. says

    Thank you Christine! This is lovely. A friend shared your link after reading my blog: “Clan of the Thunder Thighs” (see website above) entry called “New Years Resolutions, or Devotions?” I am going to link to this page because I think you share such a wealth of ideas here. I have followed your music for years and LOVE the messages you are birthing into the world! You are definitely on my list of inspirations. Thank you and blessings for a joyous, growth-filled 2011!

  19. says

    Thank you for this wonderful article. It has gotten me to thinking.

    I had a hard time settling on just 3 but I decided on the following 3
    I need to have confidence in my creativity and have discipline to follow through on what I am working on. I think the last word is the one that I need to focus on the most…Discipline. Yep, I tend not to make myself to the work that I need to do.

  20. says

    This is a great post and I also believe that New Years resolutions don’t work. It needs to be an all year resolution which requires consistency, confidence and action.

  21. says

    I spent twenty minutes meditating with my eyes closed, lying still.

    I saw a tranquil forest and I heard: Peace

    My nose pressed to the nose of a fellow being and I heard: Connection

    I felt that my energy had no bounds and I heard: Freedom

    My being felt like it was part of the greater web and I heard: Spirituality

    I saw a dark cloud on the horizon, something that should not be, and I heard: Cleansing

  22. says

    Happier – Faster – Hugs I think I’ll hit the gym in December so that I blend in for the 3 weeks of the new year I make it there. Nice tips enjoyed ideas and experiences. Happy New Year!

  23. Victor says

    Hi, I just received an email about this blog post and thought I’d take a read and really enjoyed the article.

    So I was scrolling through the list of words and as soon as I saw the word, it just resonated with me… And that word is “action”! I’ve always been a procrastinator and I’m looking to start my online business and in order to do that, I need to take “action” right?

    Anyway I subscribed to your newsletter and I look forward to seeing more of your great content…



  1. […] to focus your intention on, attract and inspire for the year ahead.  Christine Kane, explains the word of the year and goes the distance providing a Word of the Year Discovery Tool to help you select the best word […]

  2. […] It’s the beginning of a new year and a new tradition. I read about a different way to approach resolutions and spent a long time thinking about the process. I finally decided on the word “release” for many of the same reasons that are discussed in the article. […]

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