When I first went back to the gym after the holidays, there were loads of new people. Ah, New Year’s Resolutions, I thought. Two weeks later, many of these new faces have disappeared. Each time I notice this, I feel a wave of compassion for the ones who aren’t there anymore and who already feel like they’ve let themselves down. Again.
This time of year always makes me want to shout from the rooftop: “Resolutions don’t work!”
I know this because I’ve tried them myself. Many times! This was before I figured out that the types of resolutions that most of us are encouraged to adopt by our culture and the media are destined to be ditched. They are usually broad, plan-less, and come from a place of feeling bad about ourselves.
Today marks the halfway point of the first month of this new year. If your resolutions haven’t worked out or you are feeling the mid-January doldrums, I want to offer you a bit of hope and some alternative ideas.
Have you heard of the concept of choosing ONE WORD to guide your year ahead?
I don’t know where I first learned about this, but it’s possible that it was through the inspiring writing of The Phone Lady, Mary Jane Copps, who writes about her word in January of every year.
I’ve chosen a word for the last seven years and have found it to be a gentle and inspiring way to set a simple intention for the next year of my life. In the past, some of my words have been things like Dare, Gratitude, Healing, and Peace. This year I have chosen the word SPONTANEITY. With three teenagers in the house (all of whom need to be taken to their sports activities or work at specific times), plus running my own business and writing another book, much of my time is scheduled.
Choosing spontaneity as my word is a reminder that I want to say yes more often to opportunities that might pop up unexpectedly. I want to cultivate a feeling of spaciousness that invites more possibility and more joy.
If you end up creating a word for the year ahead (and it’s not too late!), here are four tips:
- Consider posting your word somewhere you will see it every day as a reminder (your office? a mirror? the fridge?).
- If you have yearly files on your computer, try naming this year’s folder with your one-word intention, or even use it as part of a password!
- Tell some trusted friends about your word so they can support your intention (maybe you’ll inspire them to do it too!).
- Make a note in your calendar to check in with yourself in June. How are you doing with your one-word intention halfway through the year?
The second (and new!) thing I am trying this year is based on a post from a fellow Canadian named David Cain who writes a blog called Raptitude.
His idea for the month of January is to create two simple lists: one contains things you want to spend more of your life on and the other includes some things you want to spend less of your life on. I particularly like his use of “your life” rather than “your time,” because as the beautiful writer Annie Dillard says:
“How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives.”
There is so much value in gently and kindly pressing the “reset” button every year. I would love to hear what you do for yourself in the month of January. And if you do end up trying either, or both, of my suggestions, let me know how it goes!
Ready for some cozy winter writing?
I have two spots available for writing mentoring in the coming months. If you are looking for guidance, feedback, and someone to accompany you on any writing journey (fiction, memoir, other non-fiction, poetry, or business copywriting), drop me a line to set up a FREE 30-minute phone or video call. Let’s see if we might be a good fit!