Several years ago, I gave up making New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions always seem like a great idea on December 31st, but by January 15th they’re ancient history.
The idea of setting annual goals can help us create healthier, happier lives, but only if we take steps to reach them. When we set goals that we can’t reach, we set ourselves up for negative emotions such as guilt, grief, sadness, and disappointment. We set ourselves up for failure. With New Year’s resolutions, if we set ourselves up for failure at the start of every year, is this really healthy goal setting?
Several years ago I was introduced to the idea of selecting a word to guide, inspire and motivate me through the entire year and beyond. Choosing an annual word isn’t a resolution that you forget about after 15 days, but if you do, then there’s no guilt or grief because you can pick up where you left off. I like to think of my word as a thread that weaves through the fabric of my life, sometimes disappearing behind another thread, and sometimes being front and center. But it’s always there.
For 2019, my word is GROW. On a very simple level, GROW reflects my desire to start a vegetable garden this year. On a more philosophical level, GROW reflects my goal of expanding my mind to new knowledge. Your word can be anything that motivates, inspires or guides you through the coming year. Be gentle with yourself as you engage in this exercise; there aren’t any rules and you don’t “win” or “fail” at selecting an annual word.
The first word I ever selected was BREATHE. At the time, it was a gentle reminder that when I was stressed, worried, or overwhelmed I needed to take a deep breath. Over the course of the year, my word became so much more. My word became a mantra and it popped up everywhere. It popped up in yoga when we were talking about the physical benefits of breathing during a pose. It popped up in research about the mental health benefits of meditation. And to this day, when I feel stuck, the first thing I do is take a deep breath for my physical and mental health.
So what’s your word for 2019?