I know that tradition dictates that you start the new year with new year resolution. Most people’s new year resolution last for about 30 days and if you are really motivated, maybe 2 months. Most people will give up, lose interest, get distracted and decide that it is not worth the effort either because you are not seeing results or because it is just better to go back to the good old days. Doing something different, creating new habits or stopping old habits and getting past your comfort zone is always an uphill battle. The worse part is that you end up feeling defeated, demoralised, disappointed and discouraged. After some time of this, some have basically given up on the whole idea of a new year resolution or a new you. After all, I have failed so many times, why would this be any different?
I get it, after all, I have experienced all of that. That is the main reason I have changed my approach to having a theme or a word for the year. New Year resolution by nature is very specific and goal or metric centric. For example, I want to lose 10 pounds. To lose 10 pounds, I have to exercise and consume less calories that my base caloric needs. 2 big things that I need to do. Exercise and Eat Less. When you further break down the 2 requirements, there are many more steps and action items that I would need to take before I can even experience an ounce of weight loss. It is simply too hard and requires too much of my energy and determination to sustain over a short- and long-term period. It is far easier to achieve something when the goals and the steps that are required are small, simple and manageable.
Therein lies the concept of Theme or Word of the year. It is simpler and more inspiration and all encompassing. You are able to interpret, apply and action the theme in any circumstances. For example, if you have a theme of the year that is centred around a word, take Grateful. How you apply gratefulness in your everyday life is more of a function of your mindset and perspective instead of any specific effort or action or to be concern with achieving a certain number.
Once you have established a theme for the year and you can then decide what that would look like. For example, you might decide that for the month of January, you would explore how you could be grateful within the confines of your relationships. You might want to express your gratitude to the people that you work with, your friends, family and so on. You would think about a few ways that you can action it, from as simple as saying thank you to writing a thank you note to maybe even buying a gift to show your appreciation. The next month it could be in another area. The possibilities are endless. An if you happen to “forget’ or skip a day or a month, just bring it back it as it is an attitude and mindset. It is not an unachieved or unmet goal or a number that you did not reach. In order to achieve grateful mindset, a habit, requires 63 days for it to be developed and entrenched.
You can literally put into action and create new habits one act at a time based on the theme for the year. To put into practice the theme, you can decide how it is to be embedded into whatever that you are doing. With practice, your mindset will change to filter what you think and do through the theme filter. Your habits can be optimized or modified based on a small change in how your think and act.
I have personally been practicing this for the last 5 years and I have found it to be life changing. Life changing because:
- I don’t feel guilty or as a failure if I do achieve a “goal”. That is the freedom and the advantage of this. I have the freedom to implement the theme as I go along and change the actions incrementally. I can then create specific goals if I choose to.
- Intentional practice and application. I choose to incorporate the theme consciously and intentionally. I become more intentional with what I do, and my mindset is always thinking about what I could do differently depending on the theme of the year. Questions such as “What am I grateful for today? “
- It’s a growth vs. goal-oriented mindset. A theme should challenge you to always be looking for new ways to incorporate it and a natural by-product of that is a growth mindset. You will focus your learning and reading materials around the theme of the year. It helps you to focus without hemming you in a set series of goals.
- Expansive vs. Limiting. The theme applies to any and every area of your life not just in one area that you have set. You can incorporate it in your attitude, behavior, habits, perspective and mindset. It is not solely based on your actions.
- Experiment and test the boundaries. The theme is as big or small as you want it to be. You can start small and as your confidence grows, expand the boundaries.
If you are discouraged by new year resolution, try this out. I learned it from Melinda Gates who spoke about how she has a word for the year. That word will then help her to focus on what she is doing during the year. I thought that it was a great idea and decided to try it out and have not looked back since. It has helped me to overcome limiting belief, step out of my comfort zone and to be fruitful.
I appreciate your support and hope that you have learned at least one new thing. After all, learning just one new thing each day and to be able to put into practice is the best outcome for all growth mindset individual.
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