An Alternative to New Year Resolutions

Christmas has come and gone.  Presents have been unwrapped and the leftovers from the ham or turkey, cookies, and pies are being consumed.  New Year’s Day is next week and the commercials for losing weight, smoking cessation, and gym memberships play during all the shows on TV.  At this time, many people’s thoughts turn to New Year’s resolutions and how to live life better.

If you’re thinking about New Year resolutions, I’d like to propose you think about something different:  Don’t!  87% of all adults create new goals and resolutions for the New Year. However 50% of those resolute people will abandon them by the end of January.  A very small percentage of those who keep them going beyond January will still be working on them when summer arrives.

I was the same way.  I’d write down a list of goals and resolutions on how much weight I wanted to lose, days a week I’d exercise, books I’d read, and more.  I’d be very purposeful, write them down and then they’d get filed in my desk drawer and forgotten until I either stumbled upon them or I circled back to this time of year.  Frankly, it was a little discouraging.  Some things would have been accomplished but most hadn’t been because they’d been forgotten in the busyness of each day, week, and month.

This year I did something different.  I was listening to a pod cast of an interview with Dan Britton, Jimmy Page, and Jon Gordon.  They’d authored a book, One Word that will change your life.  Their premise is that resolutions don’t work because the goals we set are “to do” goals rather than “to be” goals.  To do goals limit success to what we do whereas to be goals measure success by who we become.  When we change the focus from what we accomplish to who we become, real transformational change is possible.  This is because our heart begins to change and our actions follow.

Instead of creating a list of goals or resolutions for the year, they propose a one word theme for the year.  Having one word drives a laser-like focus because this theme applies to all areas of a person’s life for the year.  Britton, Page, and Gordon refer to these areas of our life as six dimensions which include:

  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Relational
  • Mental
  • Financial

Their reasoning resonated with me so I bought the book.  It’s a slim volume that can be read in 45 minutes to an hour but I devoured it.  My copy is heavily annotated and highlighted.  When I finished the book, I began meditating on what my word would be for 2012.  My mind was swimming with words like disciplined, strength, vulnerable, grace, power, purpose, faith, love, and hope.  For a day it was overwhelming but I knew I was looking for a word that would describe what I needed and that would propel me to move toward it in each of the six dimensions.  I discovered it the next day standing in a line for breakfast when I picked up my plate from the stack.  The plate had the word “Believe” on it and I knew instantly that was my word for the year.

I allowed my word to sink in and imagined how I needed to Believe in each of the areas.  In some of the dimensions, I completely got it and it’s made a wonderful difference in how I approach life.  In other areas, it wasn’t so easy to put into practice, but I’ve arrived at the end of this year, knowing it’s made a difference in what I did and how I accomplished it.

I shared with my wife, Sheri, last week I was thinking about my new word for 2014.  She asked me if I needed to keep Believe for another year to complete the work on it.  The answer is I’ll never be through with Believe, but I will add a companion to accompany it for this year.  My word for 2014 is “Courage.”  It didn’t come off a dinner plate, but there was a theme that coalesced over a two day period and I knew Courage was my word for 2014.

Try it and see what you think.  If you do this, share your word with me via an email, tweet, comment on this post, or in our Google + or Facebook pages.  I’d love to know your word and how it impacts you in the coming year!

Evie Wise
Evie Wise


Evie Wise
Evie Wise

Share this post with your friends

Leave a Reply