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.
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 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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