Smile if you have made New Year’s resolutions in the past. Now smile again if you have kept them all year. It is truly difficult to keep those ‘promises’ going for an entire year, isn’t it?
That was me until 3 years ago – until I read a book that changed my life. Now I don’t make resolutions each December. I just choose one word!
All in a Little Book
Three years ago, I read a little coffee-table book. I didn’t really intend to read the entire book, but once I began, I couldn’t put it down. Here is the premise that captivated me:
Instead of making a list of New Year’s resolutions, choose one word that you want to focus on throughout the next year.
That is a simplistic summary of the book, but it gives you a general idea of its theme. My first thought was, “I can handle just one word!”
It was December when I read it, and I was planning to retire from teaching at the end of that school year – just over five months away. After teaching for 40 years, I knew my life was about to change immensely.
The main reason I retired was because I was needed at home. My husband has advanced Parkinson’s disease, and it is not safe for him to be alone for an entire day.
After reading that little book (whose name and author I will give you at the end of this article), I started thinking about what I wanted to focus on for my first year of retirement.
My first word was balance. I wanted to be sure I didn’t spend eight hours a day reading, even though it is one of my favorite pastimes.
Neither did I want to spend eight hours each day cleaning my house, which is definitely not my favorite pastime. I wanted to do a little bit of everything – keep balance in my life.
So, I began planning a variety of things to do:
- being sure to keep my body active (taking Tai Chi),
- being sure to keep my mind active, (doing puzzles), and
- saving some time for reading, of course.
To help me carry through with my one word, I created a Pinterest board with images depicting that particular theme. Then I placed a different image as my computer desktop background each week. This is one of my favorites from that first year of balance:
For year #2 I chose the word adventure. During that calendar year, I took a trip that was truly an adventure. My siblings and I gave a party for our relatives. It was a reunion for us, and a celebration for them. I also tried some new things that turned out to be fun! Here’s an image from that year:
This past year, my word was courage. My husband’s condition has continued to decline, and now he needs much more care. That has taken real courage. Here is my favorite poster from 2018:
Since I have so much more time at home, I have taken up a hobby I put down many years ago. That has taken a different kind of courage. I have begun to sew again, after a 35-year hiatus.
Next Year’s Word
That brings me to 2021. What will be my new word for the year? So far, the process for choosing my one word has been to ask myself these questions:
- Is there some character trait I know I will need in the coming year?
- What aspect of my life do I want to focus on for the next year – something I want to improve?
- Am I planning any changes such as a move, a marriage, a career, or job change? If so, what will I need to make that successful?
- Is there something missing from my life that I want to add? What personal characteristic do I wish to practice in my daily life this year?
Once I’ve chosen my word, I want to surround myself with quotes about that word and images that portray it. If there are self-help books about that word, I plan to read them. My newly created Pinterest board will provide me with images and memes about that word to keep me focused during the year.
Each year I have done this, I have been surprised at the number of times that specific word would arise in my daily life.
Most years, I have shared my word with my family and friends, and they have pointed out how it has affected my life during that year. (The book predicts that will happen, and I can testify that it is true!)
The book is My One Word by Mike Ashcraft and Rachel Olsen. You can find it many places online and in book stores. I have just talked about the highlights of the book here, but there is much more between those covers.
As you read it, you will find tips on how to choose your word, along with other ways to implement your word during the year.
Check out their web page where you can find other suggestions for appropriate words for the next year, and you can also register your word. You may be surprised at your level of focus on this trait during these next 365 days.
What will be your focus for the coming year? Do you want to be bolder, more courageous, more vocal, more adventuresome, more balanced? Or perhaps you want to be kinder and more loving? Or a better listener? What word are you thinking of? Choose your word, and then watch the year unfold as you focus on developing that character trait in your life. I cannot wait to hear your story!