It is inevitable at this time of year – our thoughts turn to thinking about the year just ending, and how we are going to make the NEW year even better. We often make resolutions about ‘fixing’ something about ourselves. Messaging around us is all about how we need to better ourselves this time of year. For example, driving to work today, I heard these three kinds of radio ads during almost every commercial break:
1. weight loss and/or gym memberships
2. debt management, bankruptcy help
3. trip deals to sunny destinations
Ok, maybe that last one sounds good. I could use a beach right now! Losing weight, working out, and paying down debts are the top choices for New Year’s resolutions. However, we tend to set ourselves up for failure from the beginning.
Resolutions are great if you are able to set your goals realistically, plan for them, and execute that plan. I find this type of goal setting to be difficult to implement. So I have chosen to work on my goals in another way. Instead of making resolutions, I chose a word-of-the-year that represents something I would like to focus on for the year. The word represents a feeling, behaviour, or personal characteristic, rather than a fixed, arbitrary goal like losing weight or hitting the gym four times a week. It’s just one word to create a focus for the whole year.
Your word-of-the-year can be worked into each day in small ways until it is part of your behaviour, mindset, and decision making. Most importantly as you focus on your one word in this way it becomes part of your purposeful actions. You make decisions with clarity towards your focus word, resulting in success!
Instead of ‘get skinny and work out every day’, you could focus on:
Any one of those words could encourage you to make small, incremental choices that would move you towards a health and fitness goal or a financial goal. For example, if you choose ‘patience’ as your word, and practice it every-day, you will always be moving in a loving way to your goal. Practicing ‘patience’ can also impact your relationships with others, your career pursuits, AND your financial goals. In every way, this word can permeate your days, and you can’t help but make progress.
I have used this concept for three years now and I am in LOVE with it! For 2017, I choose ‘Strive’ as my word and that helped me to remember to always put forth more effort, to stretch and challenge myself. I tried a lot of new things in 2017 and I grew a lot in unexpected ways. Part of ‘striving’ was learning about new ways of thinking, and on that journey, I encountered the concept of ‘Memento Mori.’ That is what I have chosen for my 2018 word-of-the-year. It basically means, ‘remember you are going to die’.
A bit morbid sounding perhaps? But truthfully, it is the opposite. The concept is the encouragement to reflect on mortality, our limited time here in this life, and to make it all count. To not waste time on things that don’t matter. To double down on the important stuff. It’s “YOLO,” as the kids would say, “you only live once.” For me, this word-of-the-year encourages me to assess everything I spend my time and emotional energy on to be sure that it is the best way I can be spending my unknown amount of life that remains.
Each year, I have engraved my word onto a piece of jewellery that I can wear and have a constant, physical reminder to consider how to incorporate it into each day. Below is my choice of jewellery for 2018 – one of our Rembrandt charms on a sterling silver chain. The skull design on the back was added because often the ‘memento mori’ phrase is engraved into tombs, grave sites and in places of spiritual reflection dating back to the middle ages with skulls and skeletons. The skull reminds us that it’s not just symbolically imperative to consider our own mortality.
If this idea of choosing a word of the year sounds like something you would like to try, then your first (and most difficult) task is to CHOOSE a word. The word should be based on how you want to act, feel or behave in life. Focusing on just ONE thing at a time, helps you to build up habits and have experiences that reinforce the learning and growth.
Here are a few words that might fit for you:
I hope that you find this word-of-the-year an interesting alternative to the traditional New Year’s resolution idea and that you can have some fun with it. Also be kind to yourself while you work towards integrating your word into your daily life. It can be challenging but it doesn’t have to “BE” successful. Any regular attempt at growth is the important part of the journey.
All the best to you in 2018; make it a good one!