I don’t do new year’s resolutions because they hold no real importance to or impact for me. I already put so much pressure on myself to succeed that they feel like yet another source of pressure and – let’s be real – ones that are rarely stuck to.
So after college, I shifted. Instead of resolutions, I started choosing words – one word per year – to guide my intention. They become my theme, my gut-check:
“Does XYZ serve this intention I’ve set? Yes or no?”
And if it’s no, it’s out. For me, it’s both easier and bigger. Setting a one-word intention is far more about who I want to be, rather than what I want to do.
It shifts my value from what I can produce to what kind of human I aim to be.
Since I’ve started, my words have been:
2018: I VERY intentionally did not set a word this year.
I explained why I didn’t choose a 2018 word in last year’s post but in summary – I needed a break. Setting a word means telling the universe you’re open to all the challenges and lessons you need to really learn the true value of that intention.
In each year, I have most certainly gained or grown further into my intention, but they were not without the kinds of lessons that knock you to the ground and test how much you want this thing you’ve asked for. I explain in more detail about this in my post about my 2017 word.
If you’re looking to choose your 2019 word, here’s how I suggest going about it:
- Get REALLY comfortable with opening yourself up to the lessons – the amazing and the tough – that will come by setting your word. There is no way to be prepared, but without being open and surrendering to the lessons, this is just a surface activity.
- Don’t force your word choice – Take walks. Work out. Meditate. Spend time outside observing. Spend concerted time unplugged and away from others’ thoughts and influence.
- Write about what themes have been popping up in your life lately – is there anything in particular you’ve been avoiding, not giving enough attention to? Is there a common thread among your personal relationships or professional work that may be worth working on? How do you want to show up in the world? What do you want to improve about your relationship with yourself?
- Jot down whatever words come to you, but don’t attach to the first few. My word normally comes to me after a few weeks of mulling over it. My pattern is to have about 10 words I’m tossing around that seem close but not right when one will pop into my head, seemingly out of nowhere in the middle of grocery shopping or some other every-day task. It’s an instant “ooooooooooooh, that’s it!” feeling. When you know, you know.
- More precise words work better, I think. When less fits under the umbrella, you can put more energy toward it. When you do those gut checks of, “does XYZ serve my intention” damn near everything serves the intention of ‘happy’. Less serves the intention of ‘serenity‘.
- If you’ve truly done the work and the word just hasn’t come, don’t force it. Your gut doesn’t have to move by the calendar year – maybe your gut likes going by your birth years, or by the solstices. Maybe you have a really hippy-child gut, ya know? Just don’t NOT do the work and use that as an excuse for why the word didn’t come.
Once you’ve landed on your word, don’t just sit back and not think about it for the year.
Make your word front and center. Keep writing about it. Make a visual representation of what that word feels and looks like to you. Keep meditating on it.
The details are not your responsibility; they’ll show up as they need to. But the intention lies wholly on your shoulders.
Overall, it takes bravery going into the year knowing that you’re going to be knocked on your ass to learn the lessons you’ve just asked for.
When you choose a word, you have to choose it knowing that the universe is going to do anything it can to deliver, even if it means shoving you into uncomfortable places. It’s the only way to do it. Discomfort is the only real way to grow.