I wonder if we’d be so gung-ho about New Year’s resolutions if January didn’t come so quickly after December.
The holiday season, with all its fun and festivities and falalas, also gives us obligations, stress, and to-do lists (or credit card bills) a mile long. And after pushing ourselves to exhaustion or gorging ourselves on red and green candies (No, YOU ate an entire large bag of peanut M&Ms in one day!), the idea of a new day, month, year is more than a breath of fresh air. It’s a gulp of oxygen as we feel ourselves drowning in year-end excess and (often unmet) expectations.
But before we start a list of all the many, many ways we’re going to be better, do more, work hard or smarter — or both! — this year, let’s take a time out. Let’s breathe in deep our clean calendars and pretty paper journals, and let’s boil all our best intentions and goals and ambitions down a little.
I don’t know for sure about you, but I know that this time of year, as we put 2015 behind us and look forward to whatever may come in 2016, I’m tempted to forget everything I’ve learned in the past twelve months (and every year before). My knees feel weak at the thought of a few more bullet points, and I get a little breathless as I organize all my hopes and dreams and plans into the most perfect outline or spreadsheet you’ve ever seen.
Yeah, it’s true. I totally get a crush on New Year’s resolutions, the bad boy of all goal-setting strategies, the one I swear off every year because he’ll just end up hurting me. That one. Yes. I fall for his charm (and the possibilities! the potential!) every time.
And that’s why I come back to One Word 365 each year.
One Word 365 is a community and a movement, encouraging us to forget resolutions and to choose JUST ONE WORD instead. The idea is that we should choose one word we can focus on every day, all year long — one word that sums up who we want to be or how we want to live. One Word 365 is what snaps me out of my dreamy resolution fog and grounds me, not just in January, but every month of the year.
Whether I’m brainstorming writing topics and business ideas, pinning recipes to try and crafts to make, or identifying all the ways I need to do more, work harder and be better, I easily lose my mind first in the more!more!more! approach to making my lists and next in the overwhelmed, I-can’t-possibly-do-any-of-this, I’m-going-to-hide-under-the-covers reaction to my lists in the face of reality.
Choosing just one word for the year keeps me focused. It keeps me sane. And it leaves me a whole lot more successful and satisfied with life. Especially because, when I force myself to funnel my hopes and goals for an entire year into a single word or phrase, I also force myself to focus on what truly matters and what will make an eternal difference in my life and the lives of those I care about.
See? Way more satisfying than pretending like this is the year I’m going to start flossing.
This year I’m choosing JOY for my word. For the past two years I’ve been working on a project that focuses on choosing joy. Prior to that, I thought I knew something about joy. I thought I was an optimistic person. But as it turns out, I’m not really. I’m realistic and that’s not exactly the same as optimistic. And optimistic isn’t necessarily the same as joyful, just like — depending on who you ask — joy isn’t the same thing as happiness.
All these thoughts and more have been ricocheting through my brain and pinging my heart every once in a while — ALL WHILE I steeped myself deeper and deeper into the idea of choosing joy no matter what my circumstances are. So even though I’ve learned a lot about joy over these past months, what I’ve learned most is that there is a lot left I don’t know.
That’s why I’m choosing joy as my word for 2016.
Are YOU choosing one word for 2016? Will you share it with us if you are?