New Year’s Resolutions don’t work. I don’t need countless articles that state that 80% of them fail. I see it for myself when I go to the gym and that by February the crowds have thinned to me and the other regulars.
A few weeks ago, I was reflecting on my year and a word flashed across my mind: Bold. I knew this would be my word for 2020.
I can’t take credit for coming up with the idea of choosing a word for the year vs. making resolutions or setting goals. My friend, multigenerational workplace expert and author of the best selling book, The Remix: How to Lead and Succeed in the Multigenerational Workplace, came up with this ritual and uses this technique yearly. In her past blog post on the topic, Lindsey says, “Picking a ‘word of the year’ continues to be an alternate path for those of us who don’t want to be weighed down with myriad (and easy to break) New Year’s resolutions.”
When the word ‘bold’ popped into my consciousness, I immediately thought of Lindsey’s ritual and could see how this path would be far more effective. First, resolutions are overwhelming and intimidating and put an enormous amount of pressure on a fresh new year to course correct all the failings of years past. The plastic seal isn’t even off yet and already we’ve mounted the year with pressure. The alternative of goal setting can be good but without specific and measurable actions to achieve these goals set in place, which people rarely take the time to map out, they’re also bound to fail. Choosing a word gives us something specific to consciously live in, in all things we do.
Why my word for the year is Bold
In addition to it being a new year, my birthday was on Sunday. I turned 46, which means I’m now on the back end of my 40’s. I’m now also the same age as my dad when he passed away, so you would think I more than understand that in life there are no dress rehearsals and just how precious being alive is. But I am human, and while my body is 46, in my mind I have infinite time. I have become acutely aware of the fact that somewhere along the way I lost a certain amount of confidence and courage, that I have begun to sideline myself and have become more an observer than an engager. Truth be told, I have always been this way to a degree and by choosing bold as my word, I have declared that in all things I will be more authentically engaged and stronger in myself.
And this is what I love about Lindsey’s ritual. I have a word I can actionably live into. To quote the Japanese Buddhist philosopher, Daisaku Ikeda, “When we change, the world changes. The key to all change is in our inner transformation—a change of our hearts and minds. This is human revolution. We all have the power to change. When we realize this truth, we can bring forth that power anywhere, anytime, and in any situation.”
Here are some of the ways I am using my word of the year, Bold:
Bold in authenticity: I can be a co-dependent people pleaser. The importance of being accepted and understood by others (in other words, vanilla) has been a way for me to avoid potential turmoil, abandonment, and judgment from others. Of course, these worries are all in my head but they have still cost me dearly in so many ways. Not only will I be bolder in my commitments, but I will also be bold with myself to be okay with people who will judge or try to demean me simply for being who I am or committing to what matters to me.
Bold in my relationships: I’m an emotionally committed friend but physically, I’m not. I haven’t always been this way, but in the past few years, nurturing my friendships has fallen by the wayside to spending what precious time I have with my husband, taking too much pleasure in solitude and a good Netflix binge. By nature, I can be a bit of a loner and as my community has recently expanded with some amazing people, I noticed my natural reaction to retreat instead of embracing them. I will boldly let them in and most importantly, let them see me.
Bold in my career: In my career, I have gotten stale, cautious, fearful and I have a habit of staying with things too long that don’t work for fear of losing what success I have built. I will be bolder with my career, be more honest with myself, boldly lean in more fully towards things that interest me vs. sticking with things that no longer do, be bolder when putting myself out there, taking chances, promoting myself, asking for what I want and/or need and valuing my expertise.
Bold in faith: By nature, control freaks have a hard time letting go and having faith in the process of life has never come easy to me. This year I will be bolder in my faith and will let things beyond my control happen without meddling, overthinking or worrying that I need always be in the driver’s seat.
Bold in service: I will be bolder in making a difference towards things that mean something to me through service and giving back and I will be bolder about being vocal about what matters to me. I won’t just talk about injustices or send money, I will get involved, volunteer and be more generous with my time.
Bold in self-care and what I need: Again, being co-dependent by nature, if I am going to let anyone down, it’s going to be me. This year, I will focus on being bolder with self-care, asking for what I need, speaking up and bolder about being okay with likely disappointing people who are used to me not being this way.
Bold in my commitment to live more fully: In areas where I pull back, I will boldly push in. I will live truthfully and more gregariously, allow people to see my truth and give them a chance to know me, take chances, try new and scary things, stand for myself vs. scrambling for a compromise and will be bold enough to live deeper in the mystery, unsureness and absolute fear that can come from all of this.
What is your word of the year?
Now it’s your turn. If resolutions or goals have failed you in the past. Will a word of the year help you make 2020 a great year? If you come up with a word, I’d love to hear what it is in the comments.