In my recent travels throughout the blogosphere, I’ve come across a concept that’s intrigued me: instead of making New Year’s resolutions, choose a word of the year. The idea is that focusing on just one word for a year can help you reach your goals, while allowing for unexpected detours along the way.
I really like this example from a running blogger: if you set a goal for 2013 to run a marathon, what happens if you break your leg? That unexpected event is going to make it very hard to reach your marathon goal – however, if you instead choose to live by the word DETERMINATION for the year 2013, you’ll be inspired to stick with being active, even if you can’t get the marathon in during the year.
The more I thought about this idea, the more I wanted to do it. Mainly because I am my own worst critic. I like making lists, and one of the lists I always make every Sunday is what I want to get accomplished for the week. Ten items turn into 15, which turn into 25…before I know it I’m pretty much setting myself up for failure, because who possibly can accomplish all of that, on top of work and sleep? Not me, for sure.
But this is a way I can focus on living my life a certain way – under the influence of one word. For me, I still think settling specific goals is crucial but maybe this will take the “failure” out of the process. For example, in order to reach my goal of reading 36 books this year, I will need to read a book about every 10 days. It’s the 29th day of January, so that means I should be pretty close to finishing my third book.
I just finished my second book last night. My internal critic has been very aware of this, and I actually feel bad about myself because I’m behind. But should I feel that way? Of course not! But setting (and failing) that specific goal puts unrealistic pressure on me – which I don’t think any of us want or deserve.
I’ve thought a lot about this, and I’ve decided my word for 2013 will be COMMITMENT.
I chose this word for several reasons. First, “commitment” means a promise. It means that when I say I’ll do something, I’ll do it. I’ve committed to a healthier lifestyle in the past few weeks, and I plan to keep that pledge. By doing so, I will have more energy and feel better in general. I heard a quote on The Biggest Loser a few weeks ago that I’ve decided is my new mantra: Being healthy is not a chore – it’s a gift. That is so, so true – and I’ve committed to living healthy for as long as that gift is given to me.
Second, “commitment” requires dedication. I’ve committed to running the Nashville Half Marathon in April – which will take serious dedication to running. Setting a commitment means I’ll have stay on track and focused. But if something was to happen that would prevent me from running in that race, I will still have had the satisfaction of putting in the hard work needed for that commitment.
Third, I am able to choose who and what I will have a “commitment” to. I’m well aware of my tendency to put unimportant things (work) in front of the things that really matter (family, friends, my passions). Because I know my family and friends will love and support me no matter what, it can be too easy to put them aside to deal with all the other stressors in life. And they don’t deserve that. By committing to the people and things who matter, I will be able to put more energy into these relationships.
Finally, “commitment” will hold me accountable for things, but if for some reason I fall short, I will not have failed. If I only read 30 book this year, as long as I can honestly say that I put my full effort into this commitment, I can still count it as a success. Life happens – so I will measure success by how I kept commitments, not by numbers.
I made a collage of sorts to hang in our bedroom to remind myself daily of COMMITMENT:
If you’d like to make your own, here is the editable Word document: Commitment.
I’ve also started a Pinterest board dedicated to commitment: things I’ve committed to, as well as inspiration to keep me motivated. I plan on adding to this all year – so stayed tuned!
I’ve noticed from observing people in my life that we often put too much pressure on ourselves. We expect to get 100 hours worth of things done in just one day – and then feel like we failed when we don’t get it all done. Instead of setting resolutions or making lists and lists of goals this year, consider living your life around one word that means something to you. I think you can (and should) set goals for yourself, but by focusing on one word to live by, you can make some pretty great changes in your life.
What is your word going to be?