No New Year's Resolutions, Just One Word
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I've broken every single New Year's Resolution I've ever made. This fact was depressing me so I resolved to stop making them. They simply don't work for me. But I do think that this time of year is a great time to refocus and set goals. What to do?
A few years back, I heard about something else I thought might work better in my life. The idea is to choose a word to focus on for the year. The word should represent
s something you struggle with or something you want to get better at incorporating into your life. For my first year, I chose the word "present." I noticed a lot of times, especially when I was at work, there would be someone in my office talking to me and I'd be half listening to what they were saying while I was also replying to an email or thinking about what I really needed to be doing. I wasn't present in the moment, nor giving my full attention to this person who had come to see me for a reason. They wanted advice or to share some part of their life with me, and there I was not showing up. It happened in my personal life too. There always seemed to be so much to do, and as with most women, I often felt the need to multi-task. As a result, I'd half-listen to whatever my son or husband was talking about, while I was doing whatever else it was that I was doing. By doing so, neither one got the full attention it deserved. This needed to stop.
I wrote "present" on a Post-it note and stuck it on the wall of my office where I'd be forced to look at it all day. I changed my desktop background to a quote about being present. I changed my phone background, too. I sprinkled small reminders of my word throughout my life.
And guess what? It worked. I'd see the word and remember what I aspired to do. I'd stop reading that email or I'd put my pen down, and I'd focus on the person speaking to me. I'd listen. I'd reply. I'd be present. And after I did this for a while, it became easier and easier. Present became part of my life.
Towards the end of that year I began thinking about what my next word should be. I landed on "choose." I found myself feeling like a lot of things were happening to me in my life. I was giving up my control over how I responded to them. I wanted to remember that I have the power to choose how I react to everything. I have the power to choose virtually everything in my life. I choose to get up and out of bed each morning. I choose to write this blog. I choose to be present with the friends and family. I choose to live here. In truth, I could drive to the airport right now and hop a plane to anywhere and start over, but I don't. I choose to be here.
"Choose" was a powerful word for me. It went up on my wall and on my desktop and on my phone and it helped me remember that ultimately, I have control of how I choose to react. How I choose to see the world. I began to choose better. I chose happiness and compassion more than I had before. And just like "present," it became easier and more natural as the year went on.
So, what is my word this year? It's "balance." It took me some time to come up with this one but it was literally sitting right in front of me within the title of this blog; the photo that hangs in my office of balanced rocks; how the word balance creeps into my speech quite often. I talk about how I crave balance a lot.
I wrote "balance" on my Post-it under "choose" so now it says "choose balance". When I saw that it made me smile. My, my, how the universe speaks to us and prepares us for what comes next.
If resolutions don't work for you either, I'd encourage you to consider choosing a word to focus on for the year instead. It might be "finish" if you start lots of projects and never seem to get around to finishing them. It might be "healthy" if you've been struggling with your health. It might be "laugh" if you just want to laugh more. The cool thing about this is that any word will work. You just need to find the one that speaks to you.
Happy New Year's to all of you. May this year be filled with whatever words speak to you...