Resolutions? Yawn! Here’s a Better Way to Start Your Year… - Christine Kane

The regulars at the gym are already joking about it.

“Have a good workout now,” they say. “Cuz next week, it’ll be lame 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 Valentine’s Day, the regulars get to have their old gym back.

I happened to catch a radio talk show a few years ago where 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

Many years ago, I decided that, instead of making resolutions, I would pick a word that would guide me throughout the year. It would be my touchstone. It would remind me of living my life at the BE level.

This didn’t mean that I 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!  (My words have even led me to hit the million-dollar mark in my business!) I share all about that in my Word-of-the-Year Discovery Tool.)

How to Choose Your Word-of-the-Year for 2013

If you want to get some serious clarity around your word to really accelerate your 2013… click here to download my free “Word-of-the-Year Discovery Tool.”  It will walk you through my complete ritual and guide you into a higher level of intention for creating your year.

Here’s the gist of it:

Get quiet over the next few days. And pick a word for the year.

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

For instance, let’s say you are one of the many people who would normally choose “Get Organized” as a resolution.  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 article. 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.

My Word-of-the-Year Discovery Tool contains a complete list of words to inspire you. You can download it here.

My biggest advice is to sit with it. When a word is the right word, it will keep showing up in your mind until you nod and say, “Ah. That’s the one.”

Here are a few snippets from past comments on this topic –

I’ve been approached by everyone from multi-million dollar entrepreneurs to artists to stay-at-home moms.  They’ve done my Word-of-the-Year Discovery Tool – and they are stunned at the results.  Here are a few of the comments I’ve had on this blog alone…

“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.  Two years ago, my word was “survive” (the love of the first half of my life had just passed away in mid December) and for the next year 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 word this year 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.

Share your word in the comments below – or your experience with last year’s word!

And download my Word-of-the-Year Discovery Tool. It’s free (and it’s cool!)

Happy New Year everybody!

  • Anthony

    Gratitude – Comparing myself to others robs me of my motivation. But I have a very good life, be thankful. This doesn’t mean I should stop trying to do better, but i musn’t forget the here and now.

  • Kristine

    Christine, I just found your site today and after downloading the word of the year spent the next three hours reading your blog posts. I have gained more perspective in the last three hours than in the last three years. You are awesome! I feel, for the first time in years I have clarity not only where I want to be but what has been holding me back. YEAH! My word of the year is independence and tomorrow morning starts my first day of action. THANK YOU

  • Lori

    I LOVED your blog about resolutions vs. intention via one word. Last year, the year I reached my big, hairy audacious goal of putting myself in the equation and losing 200+ pounds, my word was YES!

    This year, my word is LOVE! That’s love with a slammer! After losing 200 lbs in 18 months and transforming inside and out, I have opened myself up to love. My motto for the year is to “Do all things with love.” – Og Mandino. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

    P.S. I am one of your newest and biggest fans. In fact, I quoted you and linked to you in my blog about my word for 2013.

  • Tova

    LOVE IT! New year’s resolutions are a scam. Will be sitting with sensations for the next few days. Thank you, thank you, thank you! <3

  • Rob

    Great post. I’m feeling “be ambitious” to get me out of my comfort zone and dream bigger. Have an epic and thriving 2013.

  • Ben

    There is too many words to choose from 😛

    Abundance, power, motivation, excitement, passon. It depends on the day!

    I don’t do new years resolutions anymore. If i’m going to set a goal I don’t believe in waiting until the end of the year.

  • Deb

    A friend pointed me to your web site today after I mentioned having come across word-of-the-year on an art blog I frequent. This is my first year choosing a word. When I began thinking about my word a couple weeks ago, my initial thought was to choose a bold, active word, something that would push me, but then it hit me… a word I would not have thought I would choose, but a word that seems to be appearing in my life a lot lately and a concept that intrigues me. I knew it was the word. After working through your worksheet, I am confident it was the right choice and am looking forward to owning this word in 2013. My word is GRACE.

  • Monica

    I saw above that someone mentioned a word of the year worksheet. Can you tell me where this can be found? Last year, my word was “FEARLESS” but so far I don’t have a word for 2013 yet. Please help if you can. Thanks 🙂

    • Christine Kane

      Hey Monica – click on any or all of the links in the post above, and you’ll reach the page where you can download it! Let me know if you have problems!

  • Leanora

    Hi Christine,

    Thanks for your word of the year worksheet. I worked on it a little each day over the past four days and finished it this evening. Do you have some recommendations for checking in and ensuring we’re living our word the best we can to achieve our goals in the New Year? Thanks again and best wishes in the New Year.

  • Crystal

    Thank-you for your words of wisdom!!

  • Julie Thompson

    I read your article and tried it for 2009. My word then was Commit. Wow, did that word ever have an impact! Thanks to you I’ve been doing it every year. It’s true if the word does not resonate well, the effects are not as perceptible. I encountered that with 2010’s word. I stewed on 2013’s word for a while though and then it hit me as I woke up one morning and it definitely resonates in several areas. Transcend. This one is strong, could get me into trouble, and will most assuredly have an impact.

  • Patty

    This is my 1st time for picking a word. My word for 2013 is MASTERY, because I wAnt to master all the things I’ve done wrong in my life until now. I will grow my business and buy my own home!!

  • Kitty

    Dear Christine,
    I will definitely start contemplating my own word and I have sent your article to my beloved friends and family, inviting them to do the same. Thank you for your generosity in sharing all of your wonderful insights and advice.
    Love and peace,

  • Jennifer Flint ~ The Aura Reader

    I’ve been selecting a word of the year some time myself now, thanks to you (in fact I was one of your guest bloggers on the subject a while back), and it really is a wonderful focus point.

    Last year I selected the word “Better,” and that one worked like gangbusters. I’m a bit of a perfectionist by nature, but while perfection is arrogant and impossible to achieve, I find that I can always do a little better at absolutely everything, if I just apply my attention and energy to it.

    That strategy has led to major transformations in all aspects of my life this year, both personal and business, and I plan to continue it, in addition to whatever word I choose for this year.

    Thanks for the great advice as always, and many more blessings to you in the new year! 🙂

  • Melissa

    Christine, at the beginning of this year I came across you and your work through Fabienne Fredrickson. I am so grateful for you coming into my life when you did and all that you do. I just found the Word of the Year Discovery Tool I did in January and the word I chose for 2012 was ‘Courage’. I had no idea why, or what would come into my life throughout the year. Over the span of the past 12 months I went from feeling like I didn’t have a purpose to flying to the US twice to attend business conferences, leaving my 9-5 job without any idea as to what I would do next, to starting a blog and business and signing up for UYL and UYB. Courage has been a very relevent word for me this year! My word for 2013 – ‘Build’.

    • Christine Kane

      Wow, Melissa! That’s great! Can’t wait to see what 2013 will bring for you! Major momentum!

  • Carol

    These are wonderful. I love release, and at first thought to swipe it 🙂 – then gave it time, and the word “clear” came to mind. That’s even more apropos because it reminds me of clear light, of clear seeing, and the clear consciousness I’m wanting to cultivate more and more as I navigate changes in my personal and professional life, and the final period of the lives of my parents. The content of love serves me well – the longing for the form to be what it was, less so.

    Thanks so much for everything you do, Christine, and though pretty quiet now, I learn so much from this community. Happy winter, everyone!

  • Deb Prewitt

    I’ve been doing the word of the year for a few years now and it works amaziningly. My word for this year is ‘explore’.

    • Lee

      “Explore” is my word for 2013, too. It applies to many areas of my life both literal and metaphorical. It came to me suddenly yesterday as I was writing to a friend about my plans and desires for the new year.

  • Chris

    simply put…make life as simple as possible….my 2013 word is Simplify

    • Christine Kane

      Go Chris! (One of my favorite books of 2012 was “Insanely Simple” — written about Apple and Steve Jobs devotion to simplifying everything!)

    • Vicki Capone

      I’m leaning toward ‘simplify’ too. But still a couple of days left in 2012 to ponder it. 🙂

    • Wendy

      This is my word for 2013 as well! It has been resonating with me for the past two weeks. My word last year was Truth. And boy was I able to use that as a guide in many areas of my life through some tough circumstances at work, in relationships and in dealing with my inner self. I love the idea of Word of the Year. My friends and I have been celebrating it for about 5 years now. It has meaning beyond a single goal and has been amazingly accurate for me every year. Thanks Christine!

      • Peggy Cameron

        Hey Wendy
        I look forward so much to choosing a word for the year ever since we joined together with Roban, Annemarie and Julie and shared our journey about our word.
        For 2013 I have chosen “surrender” and wrote a blog post about it.
        Looking forward to catching up again in 2013.
        Deep love, respect and gratitude
        Peggy ♥♥♥

  • Glenn

    After reading your article a couple of years ago I started selecting a word for the year and the last two have been present and gratitude. I found an artisan on etsy who makes these into wooden word art about 5″ in length for around $10 including shipping. I place these words at the base of my computer monitor where I will see them every day. This year I am deciding between peace and exhale. I also share this idea through several large linked in groups I belong to and the response for a lot of people is an aha moment…..thanks Christine.

    • Christine Kane

      Thanks Glenn! One of my former clients – Lisa Lehman – makes word-of-the-year jewelry. Beautiful pieces!

  • Michelle

    Last year I picked a word which didn’t quite resonate and as a result it didn’t get used nearly enough – so this year I’ve picked “reflection” and it fits on very many levels. Personally, I picked it because I spend too much worrying about today and the future and not nearly enough time giving myself kudos for how far I’ve come,so it’s high time to reflect on my wins! From a business POV, after a period of intense growth and then a downturn, it’s time to reflect on what really worked well for the business and then return to those core values and activities which we’re really great at – reflect on what we’ve already got going for us, then mine that for continued greatness! The last reason is also personal – if something in my life or my business isn’t quite where I’d like it to be, I think it will be important this year to reflect on what brought that about, and then seek to change it! It’s too easy to keep doing the same thing and hope for a better outcome, isn’t it?

    So – reflection. Something I rarely do as my life moves at warp speed – and something which I’m looking forward to engaging more in.

    Happy New Year to you and yours Christine!


    • Pidgen

      I picked ‘reflect’ last year – LOVED IT!! Really helped in so many areas. There are SO many ways to use the word … and to use the meanings in your life. Many good wishes for you in 2013!!

    • Christine Kane

      That’s terrific Michelle! (I don’t know if you’ve seen my blog post on keeping a business journal – but there are some prompts you can download and use every friday to keep that practice of reflection as you go forward. It’s SO important to have that POV in tact and not get swept up in fear and worry!)