Why make resolutions when a word will do?

Why make resolutions when a word will do?

It’s one month into a new year. Have you taken a moment to slow down and ponder what you want for the year ahead? New year’s resolutions have a reputation for being overwhelming and often unsustainable. Whether its because our expectations are unrealistic or we aim for too many changes at once or our motivations are misaligned, we often forget all those good intentions by this point…..the end of January.

I used to be fast out of the New Year’s gate gleefully clutching my list of resolutions. These were carefully considered but there were so MANY of them my brain couldn’t process let alone work with me to integrate them into my life. So, for the last few years I’ve become an enthusiast of choosing A WORD to represent my expectations, hopes and dreams of the year ahead.

There are no hard and fast rules

Sometimes I choose an over-riding theme (this year), other times a quality or way of thinking I want to nurture in myself.

This year I know many people have completely opted out of any kind of new year’s resolutions because through our shared pandemic experience we’ve learned that much of life is out of our control and plans can change abruptly.

Others have gone with a low expectation goal. I was talking to a friend last week and she said, “My goal for this year is to grow out my bangs.”  I still laugh about it. She has a very good chance of achieving!

One Month In

Here we are at the end of January. If you’ve already abandoned your resolutions or decided to dispense with the whole idea this year, why not give it another go and try a one-word resolution? It’s a no/low stress approach to framing the year.

Choosing a Word of the Year

How to go about choosing a word of the year? First, I nail down a theme. Ask yourself, What do I want to work on in the next year? How do I want to grow? Do I have dreams that are not yet realized? Consider these questions. Take note of ideas as they come up.

Drawing a blank?

Pay attention to the books you’re reading, to what others are saying, to the signs you see in the world around.  These can all become potential clues.

Journal random thoughts. Sometimes a word will show up repeatedly. If you don’t get an idea this way, consider turning to art to inspire. It doesn’t have to be writing, music, dance, painting collaging, sculpting, drawing, lettering all work – whatever feels most like you.

You can also gather with friends and make it a group activity (works virtually). Settle in with a stack of old magazine. Rip and tear images that speak to you. Then collage the images and words in a notebook doing your best to not overthink it. This should be fun and take you back to childhood art projects. Once this is done share page with friends. Talk through themes and patterns. Other perspectives can be just the thing to help the word appear.

Things to remember

Remember that words have many meanings and will look different for everyone.

Not all words work out and that once you choose your word remember it is not written in stone and it will change and morph throughout the year and even refine itself into something different.

Remember there is no ‘correct’ way to do this.

The power of Words

I came to understand the power of words when I ‘accidentally’ started doing what would later become the Oh My Word journaling method. Every day choosing a word representing who I wanted to be or how I wanted to feel….doodling it on the page…colouring it. It was the circuit breaker that helped me to begin managing my life long anxiety pattern, negative thought loops that had me spiraling down worm holes with alarming regularity.

What the experts say about WORDS

Words can change how we process life, according to researchers Andrew Newberg M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman who authored, Words Can Change Your Brain. More specifically positive words trigger physical, physiological and emotional changes as they alter the expression of genres, create new neutral pathways in the brain, trigger the production of feel good chemical and motivate us.

“By holding a positive optimistic word in our mind, we stimulate frontal lobe activity” the authors write in their aptly titled book. “This area includes specific language centers that connect directly to the motor cortex responsible for moving you into action.” We get out of our heads and into action.

That one little word can be more productive that a whole list of carefully considered resolutions.

Watch for it

The best part of the word of the year practice is remembering your word and seeing how it shows up for you over the year. You can do monthly check ins you can keep your word visible with post it notes throughout your home.

My Word of the Year

My word this year is a short phrase – go with the flow. It’s been my big takeaway the last couple years. I now know that adaptability, flexibility and resiliency are just as important as having laser focus on what I want and that the best laid plans…… (well, you know the rest). So far, I’m feeling good and must say a LOT more relaxed as I settle into each day.

PS? I draw and colour my word of the year once a month or so in my Oh My Word journal instead of leaving post it notes around my house. It keeps it top of mind and active in my life.

Don’t have an Oh, My Word journal yet?  You can get yours here.



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2 Replies to “Why make resolutions when a word will do?”

    1. Yes keeping it short is the secret. Examples of short intentions would be….take a small step…speak my truth…step out of my comfort zone..stand up for what I believe in…follow my heart….do something that scares me:)

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