A Powerful Alternative to New Year’s Resolutions

I used to feel torn around this time every year by the thought that I “should” make New Year’s Resolutions.

I love the idea of setting aspirational goals that challenge me to make my life better.  But I’m not a huge fan of coming to the end of January and realizing that my resolutions have been transformed into “broken promises”.

So what can be done? 

A few years ago, a coach colleague of mine, Mary Murphy, shared the idea of choosing Three Guiding Words as an alternative to resolutions.  I’ve since added a couple of “pre-steps” that help me choose my words.

Here’s how it works

You can spend as much time as you want on this. Maybe it’s 10-15 minutes (with an emphasis on Step 3). Or invest an hour over a cup/bottle/glass of your favorite beverage!

Step 1 – Reflect on last year
  • What were your biggest accomplishments?
  • What were your biggest disappointments?
Step 2 – Vision for next year
  • Inspired by last year’s accomplishments and disappointments, what are some dreams you have for yourself for next year? (Include work, personal and any areas that are important to you.)
  • Pay attention to what lights you up and makes you feel more aligned to who you are and your values.
Step 3 – Choose Three Guiding Words for next year
  • Now you’re primed to consider…What are the three words that will inspire you most as intentions, as you go through your hours, days and weeks next year?
  • Post your Three Guiding Words in a place where you can see them, and put them in your calendar so you’ll get regular reminders throughout the year.
An example

Here are my Three Guiding Words for this upcoming year:

  • Connection – one of my most important values is connection, so I intend to initiate and maintain connection with more people in an open-hearted way. When I’m engaged in open-hearted connection, I’m happier.
  • Service – I can sometimes lose track of why I’m doing what I’m doing. Keeping my focus on my intention to serve will help reconnect me to a sense of purpose in what I’m doing. And when I come from a place of service, I’m less attached to things turning out the way I “expected” them to.
  • Experiment – Novelty keeps things interesting. This year, I’d like to experiment a bit more, try more new things and take more risks in my business, and in the rest of my life.

The rationale behind this approach is that the Three Guiding Words remind us of who we are and how want to be.  And they allow us the continual opportunity to “begin again” and be compassionate with ourselves around the fact that personal change can be hard.

So what do you think? Let me know – and if you come up with three words, I’d love to hear what they are!