Skip to content

New Year’s Resolutions? Forget the list. Try one word.

rows of off lightbulbs with one turned onIf you’re going to make resolutions, go for quality, not quantity.

I don’t make a lot of resolutions…because I don’t do anything with them. They sit there waiting for me to do something.

This year, I’m going to make just one: take better care of myself.

Re-dedicating ourselves to wellness is something we all need to do as we age, particularly given the world we now live in.  Good health is more fragile and more important than ever before. 

For me, an aging spinal cord injury is making it tough to get around.   So I have to be tougher.

 I want what’s left of my time on this planet to be as dynamic and active as I can make it. That’s where resolve comes in.

Notice I said resolve.  Not resolutions.  Making a list is fruitless and bound to fail.  It’s just too hard.  You’ll give it about six weeks and then give up.   That’s a proven fact.

Try making just one resolution.  Even better, try this novel approach from fellow writer Mindy McHorse of American Writer’s and Artist’s Inc. (AWAI).  

According to her, the simple, better, fun, easy, and proven answer, is to pick a single word — just one — to guide your actions throughout the year. A single, simple, memorable, actionable word.

This approach, in contrast to resolutions, is easy, direct, and affirming.

And it helps you reach your goals faster, and with a clearer mind. Of course, you want your word to dovetail with your overall goals.

Given the fact that my goal is taking better care of myself, my word for the year is Courage.

How’s that you say?  Well, the word courage is the antithesis of discouraged.  With my aging spinal cord injury making it more difficult to walk, I can get discouraged easily when I’m exercising or even getting on my e-trike that I love to ride.

Being discouraged means losing the courage to persevere when things get tough.  I lose my motivation to continue the battle.  I can’t allow that to happen.

Keeping the word “courage” at the forefront of my psyche will help me beat back the urge to give up.

Try it.  Say you want to increase your confidence to go after a new job or big project at work.  Maybe the word “brave” or “capable” would help.

Or perhaps you want to increase your income this year.  You might choose the word "abundance" or "prosperity."

Once you've chosen your word, simply revisit it every day. Paste it around your workspace and all around your house. Repeat it constantly.

If you keep this one guiding word at the top of your mind, it helps steer all your actions and decisions toward what you really want to achieve for the year …

But without the pressure and finality of a traditional resolution!

Really, it's a proven way to inch closer and closer to your long-term goals without risking the misstep of failure and setbacks that could keep you sidelined indefinitely.

Because nobody wants to fail at a goal … that only makes you feel rotten and incapable.

In contrast, being guided by a single word, day after day, eliminates that pressure and fear of failure.

One final note as you move forward: Make sure you remember the word you choose.

Because it's all well and good to do the work of finding the perfect word …

But will it still be at the top of your mind six months in when all the freshness and excitement of turning the page to a brand-new year has worn off?

So write it down. And then …

  • Post it beside your computer.
  • Put it in a frame on the wall.
  • Set yourself a weekly or daily reminder that brings the word up on your phone first thing in the morning.
  • Make it your password for all your logins.
  • Attach it to a keychain.

That’s it. A much simpler and more effective way to set the tone for your year ahead.  It’s bound to be a challenging year for all of us, but I’m moving forward with hope and optimism—two more words that are meaningful to me.

To get you started, here are some possibilities:

  • Completion
  • Action
  • Focus
  • Momentum
  • Emergent
  • Persistence
  • Bold
  • Plucky
  • Fearless
  • Change
  • Productive
  • Resilience
  • Do
  • Authenticity
  • Persevere
  • Proactive
  • Clarity
  • Confidence
  • Determination
  • Inspire
  • Joy

Good luck — and I encourage you to share your word with friends and family!

Share this article:


Last Updated: 5/28/21