Why I Make a “Word of the Year” instead of a Resolution

You know when……

The New Year rolls around and everyone starts asking you what your New Year’s Resolution will be. What do you want to change about yourself in the next year?

You quickly think of something general to say like “eat healthier” or “go to the gym more” because those are things you should be more concerned about, right? But you know that despite all your good intentions (or no intentions) that you won’t stick to those or any resolution for that matter.

Sound familiar?

According to Brain Statistic about 41% of Americans usually make a New Year’s Resolution and of that 41 %, only 9% feel they are successful in achieving their resolution. A whopping 42% feel like they flat out fail in achieving their resolution every year.

So let’s put some numbers to this. Say we have 1,000 people that would mean that 410 of them decided to make a New Year’s Resolution. Of those 410, only 37 would feel that they actually achieved their resolution. Seems about right.

Now I’m not saying that making a New Year’s Resolutions is bad. I think it’s good to take the time and reflect on your life and well-being to identify some areas that you could improve upon. The New Year provides us a natural transition and time to do that. But….

A few years ago I decided I would never make another New Year’s Resolution.

I knew I was really only doing it to have some sort of response for when I would get asked about it and that I would never really keep it.

I still felt like I needed to make changes in my life and have a plan in place, but I needed something stronger than just another “New Year’s Resolution”. Additionally, I wanted to be better in multiple areas of my life and making 3 resolutions seemed even more unrealistic.

That’s when I decided to get rid having a resolution and have a word (or theme if you will) to define my year.

In 2016, my first year, my word was “DISCIPLINE”. In 2017 my word(s) were “TAKE ACTION.”

For that first year, my goals included eating healthier, working out more consistently and getting my finances in order. All of these started & ended with me having more discipline. Having more discipline to set my budget each month and stick to it. More discipline to plan my meals out for the week so I shopped better and ate better. Discipline to work out even when I was tired.

It changed my whole perspective on goal setting and what I could achieve.

Instead of just making 1 resolution and achieving only that 1 thing, I made 1 theme that helped me achieve multiple things. And more importantly, it wasn’t just about goal setting, but focusing on the behavior I needed to change to actually achieve those goals.

And having a word to inspire me for the whole year meant I didn’t have to do it all at once. I worked really hard in one area for a couple of months and once it became a part of my routine then I would throw something else in there. Sometimes big, sometimes small.

Sometimes it would be as simple as wanting to watch another episode of something on TV and instead I would tell myself, “Be disciplined and go to bed.”

I know what you may be thinking- knowing what is best for you and doing what is best for you are two different things. And I completely agree!

But since I had decided (and felt strongly) that I needed to add discipline to my life, simply reminding myself was effectual enough to make me do what was best for me. I wasn’t perfect at it, but over time it became easier to not argue with myself. 🙂

What really kept me motivated was that my theme penetrated into each area of my life.

Here is a list of things I achieved from my year of Discipline:

  • Created a budget
  • Stuck to my budget
  • Paid off more debt
  • Made smarter spending decisions
  • Bought less stuff I didn’t need
  • Made fewer purchases that made me feel guilty because I knew where my finances stood and had stronger goals to achieve
  • Started meal planning
  • Learned how to cook (like actually cook things) and incorporate new foods into my diet
  • Spent less money eating out because I had planned my meals ahead of time
  • Cut down on my 3 favorites- soda, popcorn and queso
  • Joined a gym by making it a priority in my budget
  • Started going at least 3x/week

I achieved more in a year by having a strong “word theme” instead of just making a flippant resolution.

You can also see how being disciplined in one area (meal planning) positively affected another (spending less) so by the time the end of the year rolled around I had really changed a lot of things (big and small) for the better.

The following year I decided to try it again. This time I chose the word(s) “TAKE ACTION.”

Man, was this a fun one. For an entire year anytime I would complain about a situation or be scared to move forward I would just remind myself to “Take Action.” Again, because I had chosen a theme that really resonated with me and that I was dedicated to, a little reminder was all I needed.

Here is a list of things I achieved during my Take Action year:

  • Took a 10 day Europe trip solo
  • Started an Online Business
  • Learned a lot of new skills
  • Quit my Corporate Job
  • Had Lasik Eye Surgery (that I spent 10 years dreaming about getting)
  • Paid off 2 Credit Cards ( I took the discipline I gained from the year before and took an even larger action in paying off debt)
  • Moved from Colorado to Texas
  • Made a scary investment (that so far is paying off)
  • Decided to move to New Zealand (which I spent 7 years thinking about doing)
  • Starting making preparations for NZ (got my visa & booked my flight!)

Now I’m not going to sit here and say “It worked for me so it’ll work for you!”

Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. Maybe you’re good with making a New Year’s Resolution and focusing on one goal at a time. Or maybe you have something else that you’ve found that works for you and that’s great.

But if you’re tired of making a resolution that you never keep, try defining your year with a word.

It has to be strong and it has to be specific enough to drive a response from you.

Every time I would remind myself of my theme, my response was always, “You’re right. I’ve gotta do this.” It wasn’t out of guilt, but out of respect for myself and what I had committed to do for the year.

My word for 2018 will be “ENJOYMENT” and I’m excited to see where it takes me!

What about you? If you decide to try it out, let me know what word you choose in the comments below!

2 thoughts on “Why I Make a “Word of the Year” instead of a Resolution

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