Word of the year | New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep

There’s nothing quite like that New Year’s Day feeling is there? The slate’s wiped clean, you can start afresh with new energy and renewed optimism as to what you can do, create and achieve. New Year’s resolutions can be a way to capture that energy and attempt to bring it along with you for the next 365 days.


Those New Year’s resolutions can end up morphing into a to-do list that never seems to end. The kind of to-do list you just want to push to the back of your drawer and forget about. It’s that overwhelming.


Why New Year’s resolutions don’t work

As each year draws to a close, we’re bombarded with media messaging around “new year, new you”. Voices are coming at us from all directions, telling us to get fit, make more money, get married, and it goes on and on and on.

These voices can seep through our skin, working their way into our New Year’s resolutions. Those “shoulds” that we previously ignored become harder and harder to tune out. So it becomes harder to look at what we really want, and more importantly, why we want it.

Although New Year’s resolutions are the most traditional approach to setting our goals, both personally and professionally, for the year ahead, they’re not necessarily the most effective.

We set our New Year’s resolutions at a time when we’re experiencing peak energy, when we’re feeling our most excited and motivated for what’s to come. Unfortunately, that energy isn’t going to be able to run throughout the year. It’s simply not physically possible, much as we might try!

Which means that our New Year’s resolutions end up being over-ambitious. We end up with a whole laundry list of goals. Too many to achieve. And certainly too many to remember.

Enter: the word of the year

The word of the year is a new approach, the antithesis of overwhelming New Year’s resolutions.

The word of the year has a simple concept. Choose one word and let it be your guiding star for the year ahead.

You have 365 days to embody this word and bring it to life in all that you do. Every time you go to make a decision or start a new activity, you check in with this word to ensure that you’re on the right track.

And by the time the year’s up, that one focus has become a habit. So, the next year, you can choose a new word of the year and keep on learning and growing.

Why the word of the year works

The word of the year has two (not so) secret superpowers: it’s simple and (more importantly) it’s memorable.

Your word of the year is the missing link that holds all your goals together. It’s the one focus that you need to have if you’re going to stay on track and move forwards to those bigger dreams.

It’s not just about what you want to achieve but how you want to feel doing it and how you’re going to go about achieving those goals. Those actions that you need to take lead back to your word.

In 2020, my word of the year was positive growth. I wanted to use the lens of positive growth in all the decisions I made in both my life and my business. I knew that I wanted to grow and evolve but it was important to me that I grow in the right direction, hence the addition of the word “positive”. (Yes, you can have a short phrase instead of a single word!)

How to choose your word of the year

Ready to make 2021 your testing ground for a word of the year approach? Brilliant!

You’re still going to want to set your key goals and intentions for the year ahead. But once you’ve done that, take a look at what holds those goals together. If you’re a visual person, you might find it helpful to create a vision board for the year ahead and then use that to determine what common thread is running through each of your goals.

  1. What’s the common theme running through each of your goals?
  2. What one thing do you need to do to keep you on track to achieve those goals?
  3. What will act as your guiding light?

Remember, your word of the year doesn’t need to summarise every single thing that you need to do. It can simply act as the lens through which you look at each of your decisions. So that you can keep that New Year’s focus from January right through to December.

What happens if you don’t know what direction you want to take in 2021?

Great question! This one involves diving a little deeper, to find out what you want. And you can do just that with Get Up and Go, a free ebook to help you build a life that feels true to you:

Word of the year | New Year’s resolutions you can actually keep

Found this post useful? Share it with someone else! Click the buttons below for some useful shortcuts.

About the author

Lisa is a mother, a business owner, a founder, and an executive leader. She's been through it all and has come out the other side to thrive. Now she's helping you to do the same! Learn how you can find clarity and support through her services for individuals and organisations.