I love the fresh start feeling. I get it at New Year, on my birthday in March and in September (probably a hangover from being in the academic year for so long). It’s the time that makes me feel like I want to be better. Sleep better, eat better, workout more and generally be a better human. Judging by the fact that I can’t get booked onto a yoga class at my gym this month, it seems a lot of us feel the same. But I’m also 33 and know that this fresh start feeling has historically never been enough to propel me into a better way of being. Well for longer than approximately three days anyway. So let me share with you my alternative to resolutions. It’s a more flexible, yet strangely focused approach.
Choosing a word to focus on for each year. Yep, one word a year. It’s not a brand new concept, I know. But I was inspired to start this waaay back in 2014 by a friend. She had one word, an overarching theme of sorts. As she explained how her year had ended up following that theme and her life improved because of it, I figured I’d give it a shot. And I’ve been doing it ever since.
I’ve had many words over the years since, 6 to be precise. They’ve been: Light, Values, Simplify, Learn, Focus and last years was Progress. I’ll explain my thinking behind a few to show how having one word can impact many areas of your life at one time.
“Light” came at a time when my health was not its best. I felt anxious, sluggish, heavy and generally bleurgh. I also felt bogged down in work and just generally too… Serious. Keeping the word “Light” in my mind that first year literally transformed everything for me. I ate lighter, laughed more and moved more. I started taking life less seriously and had more fun with my son and my husband. I had a kind of ‘shrug it off’ attitude towards things that would otherwise have been more triggering. I got out in the sun. I walked. It changed everything.
“Progress” from last year was an interesting one. I was feeling a bit stuck at the end of 2018 as my maternity leave was coming to an end. A bit like I didn’t know where I wanted to go with anything. I was then made redundant from my old job at a marketing firm, called Charlotte the same day and asked to work for Rock My Ltd instead and I have been a team member ever since. Progress. I’ve progressed with work goals, personal goals and some financial goals. It was a year of moving the needle forward just a bit on everything and having that word in my mind made otherwise tough parts of the year feel surmountable.
For 2020 I’ve chosen the word “Ease”. I’m travelling for work now, as is Gavin and we’re about to start some renovations on our house. Add two kids (one a toddler) to that mix and it’s a recipe for chaos. So my goals for the year revolve around making our hectic lives easier. With systems, planning and a more relaxed attitude. I was inspired by Tim Ferris for this one. In a podcast he mentioned that when he feels like something is tough or he feels resistance towards starting anything he asks himself “What would this look like if it were easy?”. This was a mindset gamechanger for me. Whether it’s a complex work problem or facing a pile of laundry (every day then), asking “What would this look like if it were easy?” allows my brain to lay out the path of smaller, simpler steps it takes to complete the task. Then it doesn’t seem so daunting. Like if I’m exhausted and have just put the kids to bed, then look around at the enormous mess of my house. If I ask myself “what would this look like if it were easy?”, the answer to that is… Stick my headphones in, call a friend and catch up whilst I tackle a room at a time. I know time will fly by and before I know it, I’ll have a tidy house, will have caught up with a pal and will be in a guilt-free flop in front of the telly.
A feeling of relaxation and ease amidst the madness is what I’m after this year for sure. From past experience, I also know that having a word like that is going to make exercise feel easier, drinking more water feel easier and put my mind at ease when I start to feel stressed out or overwhelmed.
Have you ever chosen a word or a theme for an entire year?
If you were to pick one for 2020 what would it be?