It’s about that time. We’re barreling toward the start of a whole new year. From late autumn through Christmas every year, I spend time evaluating how my year has gone and think ahead to the upcoming year. While I have multiple long-term, life goals (and smaller goals I hope to meet and often do), I do not give myself a long list of resolutions each year.
I do, however, chose a word for my year. I’ve done this for so many years now I’ve lost track. My word for 2022 found me (as they usually do). The word was acceptance (or radical acceptance). I was so uncertain about the word, that I almost changed it, for the first time ever. But it was the right word.
“Radical Acceptance is the willingness to experience ourselves and our lives as it is.”
~ Tara Branch
While I don’t want to go into a long story about how this word did/did not apply to 2022, I can tell you with confidence that as the “one word” concept has done every year, acceptance became the lesson of this year that has ultimately helped me tremendously. While it seems kind of nutty to make statements like this, it was life-changing. How was a word life-changing? If I told you all of that, you wouldn’t read. It’s a long story. 🙂
If you feel stressed about a new year, that’s just hours away, or find yourself stressed within the first few weeks of a new year, don’t be overwhelmed by New Years Resolutions. I tackle my year by choosing a word that becomes a theme (of sorts). I set intentions around that word. I know what you’re thinking . . . aren’t intentions, goals or resolutions?
Yes and no. Intentions look a little different to me than resolutions/goals. They’re also self-focused and don’t require participation from anyone else. Do you ever make resolutions or goals that involve other people? These could include changing careers, improving relationships, etc.? The problem with those goals and resolutions, are that they require other people to get in line with your goals/resolutions. That just doesn’t work because you can’t control other people.
If your goal is to “work out every day” or hit 10,000 steps a day, do those goals account for your own needs or potential changes in your schedule, health, your family’s schedule, your career, etc.? Would it be easier to hit a 10,000 step goal if it was actually a weekly aim? If your plan of attack is 50,000 steps in a week – you’re not beholden to accomplishing that every day. You have 7 days to make it happen. That might be a lot easier to make happen than 10,000 a day.
If your intention is to be the best girlfriend, wife, employee you can be – it’s entirely dependent on you. It doesn’t matter what anyone else does/doesn’t do. It doesn’t matter what your boss does, if you’re appreciated, or what your opportunities for advancement are.
Well . . . it does matter. Those things do matter. But us becoming who and what we need to be, is dependent upon our choices. Choosing a word for the year helps me be – in admittedly sometimes small increments, to be the person I want to be. And it’s entirely dependent upon me and not circumstances.
If I have a long list of resolutions and goals, there are 100% guaranteed obstacles to accomplishing those. I know I’m not alone in that. So why do that to yourself?
Here’s what I do or think through, as the year comes to a close, and a new year begins:
1. Evaluate the course of my previous year and determine what I loved, didn’t love, and what I wished I’d done differently.
Example: If my word is “acceptance” how well did I accept circumstances as they came? Was I content regardless of circumstances? What were my biggest “negative” emotions around my various intentions or the word itself?
2. Determine what new intentions I have for myself or what I didn’t get to the year before. Were the negative or neutral emotions or experiences, reoccurring themes? Were my failings or near-misses reoccurring themes?
3. I spend some time connecting those reoccurring themes and those things I hope to make a reality in my life and usually end up with a word that covers it all. Because of my faith, prayer is woven throughout.
Example: A pretty constant theme throughout my 2022, was anxiety and fear. Fear was prevalent. It literally kept me from accomplishing some things that I’d hoped to. It kept me from career dreams that may have been a reality – had I been less fearful.
4. Once the word is clear, I use my phone’s notes app, journal, etc., to make a list of things I’d like to do in the new year. Most of the time, these are big picture desires.
Example: Improving my health is a big picture goal. It’s not 10,000 steps a day or yoga every day. But it may be slowly making better choices that lead to major changes over the course of the year. For instance, I wanted to do Yoga with Adrienne’s daily yoga practice in January. But my joints aren’t sure of that at the moment. What is possible? Regular walks with the dog and yoga a few days a week and when I can’t sleep. I do have plenty of specifics listed, too. For instance, if I want to be more organized, I create an additional list of specific things I need to organize.
Fearless: free from fear : BRAVE
My word for 2023? It’s Fearless. It’s not the first time I’ve had that word. But it’s never fit better. So what does that look like for intentions? I’m certainly not sharing here. Haha! But I can tell you that it’s a word that is an extension of acceptance.
Listen, I know. This isn’t the advice most people are going to give you. I’m not most people. I sympathize with those who may be working their way through health issues, loss and grief, or any other number of challenges. Why beat yourself up on the path to becoming a better version of yourself, when you don’t tick off every little thing on that list of yours?
Being driven is not a bad thing. Neither is determination to meet your goals. But if you’re like me and need a little more grace, the word thing works so much better.
What is your biggest obstacle to meeting your goals? Do you find yourself overwhelmed a few weeks or a couple months into a new year as life hits your best intentions? If so, you might like giving the one word thing, a shot.
Here’s to a 2023 full of good things!
4 thoughts on “Don’t Be Overwhelmed by New Years Resolutions”
You describe what Neil Anderson refers to as the difference between goals and desires. Goals can depend on other people to help you accomplish. Desires only depend on you to accomplish. Here’s to God working out your desires.
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Yep. That’s where I learned about goals vs desires. However, I needed a little more to help me give the desires, some direction. The word helps.
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I don’t really think about goals at this time of year – because it is dark and freezing. But all year round I set myself small goals, and occasionally larger goals. I do find them a motivator. But at this grey time of year when work is so demanding because of all the abuse cases we come across…I try to go easy on myself because I just cannot wait for spring. To me, spring is a much better time of year for me to start thinking about all I would like to accomplish.
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