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
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!
You can grab your free Word-of-the-Year Discovery Toolkit right here, and share it with your friends.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published in December, 2014 and has been given a slight makeover to keep it fresh and current.