When our world officially admits it’s another year older, lots of people come up with resolutions.
“I resolve to lose 90 pounds.”
“I resolve to quit smoking once and for all.”
“I resolve to win the lottery.”
Considering how many resolutions are upended by the consumption of an entire bag of Doritos in one sitting or how many gyms look like ghost towns on March 1st, it’s amazing that we go through the trouble of of making them in the first place.
Indeed, the mandate that we should all come up with some sort of New Year’s Resolution is a rule that doesn’t exist.
Resolutions are good in theory, but they set people up for failure. Changing habits is hard, and the first stumbling block usually creates a wall of disappointment and shame that reinforces the negative pictures you had going into it.
I guess I’m just too lazy. Too fat. Too whatever.
Don’t get me wrong. Changing bad habits and setting goals are important. And anything worthwhile will be met with obstacles, which will need to be overcome by persistence and hard work. I just don’t think resolutions are the way to go about it.
The arrival of a new year fills me with optimism. Rather than saddle myself with a resolution that is likely to snuff it out in less than a week, I like the idea of embracing something that fuels the optimism and serves as a guide that will help me all year long. Which is why I love the idea of coming up with a word of the year. Considering I wrote a post about coming up with a theme for your summer, this idea is right in my wheelhouse.
A friend in my mastermind group introduced me to the concept, and I was recently reminded of it by Brandi and Tim who credit Christine Kane as their inspiration for picking a word of the year.
Here’s what Christine has to say about 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.
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!
I sort of did this by accident (one of the happy kinds!) this year. Early on, the word “simplicity” kept surfacing. (Certainly, adding a new member to the family added a whole new level of complication to my life.)
I wrote the word down, and it subconsciously guided me throughout the year. For instance, Kim and I bought our first house, and in the process, purged a lot of the possessions that added clutter and complication to our lives. (Check out ManVsDebt for a stellar example of a couple who has taken this concept to the extreme.) Then we hugely simplified our life by getting rid of our dedicated office space and bringing our business back into our home. We also decided to let go of certain parts of our business in order to focus on the parts that were most fruitful and and gratifying. And I have outsourced or eliminated a number of things that used to clog my to-do list.
These are just a few of the bigger examples of how I’ve been able to simplify my life this year, and there are dozens more. It’s exciting to think of how much I accomplished by deciding to focus on a word rather than a specific resolution or two.
Here’s an example of how Christine has seen this work in her own life:
One year, I chose the word “Generosity.” All year long, I held that word in my consciousness. I left tips for housekeeping at each hotel on my road trips. I paid the toll of the car behind me. (This is surprisingly embarrassing to do!) I observed when I was feeling too scared to be generous, clutching to my “hard earned” money. What I found was that the word “generosity” also taught me about courage, willingness, letting go, and wealth.
If you haven’t already, I encourage you to come up with your own word for the year. For some tips about choosing a word and a list of possible words to consider, look here.
I’ve decided that my word for 2010 is freedom.
I look forward to letting go of some things that have been holding me back and unloading even more unimportant possessions. I’m looking forward to achieving freedom from some fear and worry that has plagued me this past year, as well as experiencing the freedom to have more fun and experience life more fully.
How about you? What do you think about this idea? Do you have a word that comes to mind for you?
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Craig Price says
What’s the word? Thunderbird!
What’s the price? A dollar twice!
For me my word will be “Marketing”! Betweenmy book, my website and my potentially expanded business next year, I will be learning all about marketing.
Can’t wait to see everyone next week. Happy New Year!!
Looking forward to it!
Jenna aka Chief says
Love this idea! I have a phrase for this new year “Be the Joy!”
I want more than a happy new year, I want a joyous one!
Smile! Laugh! Play! Enjoy being alive!!!
Could I have permission to post that resolution cartoon on my Wall in Facebook? I’ll give proper credit and/or link to your website… it is hilarious and somewhat true about people pointing fingers at everyone else…
Thanks – keep up the good work!
Hi Peter! With credit and a link, you’re more than welcome to post the cartoon on your Wall. Thanks for asking!
Hope your 2010 is off to a smashing start!
If I remember correctly, I was joking in the chat for the live EA show last week that my word would be “ooze”…because I like the word. I usually think of the word as something slimy oozing out of somewhere (such as the pus after I popped the bubbles on my shoulders that came from a rather serious sunburn when I was little [Oh, were you eating? Sorry about that.]). However, I just realized…that word applies to more than just slime. You can ooze confidence, for example. It implies an intense passion for something. Maybe that will be my word for the year, all joking aside. The more I think about it, the more I like it! Must ponder what else I can ooze to make the world a better place.
See, sometimes silliness leads to great profundity!
Craig Price says
Sure beats choking to death on a marshmallow!
When heated up, marshmallows can ooze too… :-)
“Profundity”…there’s a word one doesn’t see every day! :-)
One word – vigilant – but to focus on the positivity that being vigilant can bring. Stay blessed!
Great word, Peter. Vigilant. I like it.
Colleen Laukka says
Here! Here! You guys rock and are a breath of fresh air! It is time to have fun and enjoy this thing we call life. Your video is great, your comic reminds me of Calvin and Hobbes and I loved C&H. Great job!
My word for the year is Connection and as soon as I “claimed” my word the connections started rolling in. Life is so fun! Thanks for adding to it with your blog and presence on the internet!
Why thank you for the awesome comment, Colleen and for hanging out with us here! By the way, Calvin & Hobbes is one of my favorites, too!
It really is amazing how powerful simply “claiming” a word for the year is, isn’t it? I’ve noticed very similar benefits. It’s kind of like built in momentum that comes when you do it.
Katie West/The Levity Coach says
my word….it has almost been embarrassing. As a coach people expect something like “Intentionality” “Mindfulness” or something of the like…but when I sat and thought about it I came up with “Vacation.” I want to work hard yet also experience and celebrate that work with the balance of PLAYING and being with my family!
My intention for vacation has been rockin’ so far!
Camping on a mountain for New Years, visiting friends at their slopeside condo and visiting friends who were house-sitting for an “on the water oh my god kind of place” It has been a great reminder that we can go on vacationsand also…simply live as if life is a vacation…And way more relaxing than 2009 already!
great post. (losing 90 pounds would be a bit much for me….though I would take an even 5)
Katie — “vacation” is a super word, especially when you consider that most Americans don’t use up all of their vacation days in a given year. I guess we think it’s either more promotion-worthy to leave days on the table or selfish to take time for ourselves. Kudos to you for showcasing the example that vacations are not only fun but very important to a well-balanced life!