Lose your New Year’s Resolutions. I have a better idea.

I gave up on New Year’s Resolutions when I was a teenager. Call me a cynic, or perhaps a realist, but from a relatively young age I recognised that the resolutions I made for major personal change to occur from 1 January each year rarely panned out. And so, I reasoned, what was the point of setting myself up for unqualified failure so early in the year?

As such, I don’t set New Year’s Resolutions – no lofty goals of better exercise and healthy eating habits for me; no solemn promises to abstain from drinking, dating bad men, keeping early nights and early mornings; and no hand on heart oaths to manage my money, create a budget, and spend wisely. To be honest, this part is easy for me as I am already quite healthy, I don’t often drink alcohol, I have always been early to bed, and I am in a committed relationship with a man I love, but, you know – it’s the sentiment that counts.

But my friends – even if I was a woman who was loose with my money, my health, my time and my morals, my message to you would be the same – it really is time to let go of making (and breaking) New Year’s Resolutions.

The data is clear enough and oh so gloomy. Despite the fact that a third of Americans, 62% of Brits, and over 70% of Australians, to share the stats from just a few nations, planned to make a New Years Resolution this year, the average resolution lasts just 3.74 months with 23% of ‘resolvers’ quitting their resolution in the first week, only 36% making it past the first month, 13% making it to 4 months and just 9% successfully keeping their resolution for a year.

But do not fear. There is a better way.

Rather than setting resolutions for this or any future year, try choosing one ‘word’ that describes the year you want to experience. A word that will theme your year.  A word that will act as your true north so that you don’t drift off track.  A word that aligns closely to what you most value and ensures you make decisions which align to your values. A word which allows for powerful reflection and gratitude at the end of each day, simply because your actions and decisions are in alignment with your values. A word that keeps you focussed on the path you wish to follow. A word which will centre you if you feel like you are losing your way. A word that will help you simplify and cut through the clutter, craziness and busy’ness that will almost certainly overwhelm you at moments in 2024. A word that becomes your lighthouse – shining brightly and ensuring you stay the course.

I have been choosing a guiding word for my year for many years and here are my top 4 tips for choosing the right word for you in 2024:

Tip 1: Your word needs to describe exactly the type of year you want to experience

Why? Because your word will be a constant reference as to where you want to direct your attention.

Are you looking for business or career growth? Are you looking to focus more on personal development? Do your kids need more of your time? Are you or someone you love facing health issues that need your attention?

In 2020 for example, my family was side swiped by the shocking cancer diagnosis of my ex husband – suddenly I was nursing my 3 children through the news that their dad had pancreatic cancer and the rapidity of his decline and the absolute shit show that involved, while juggling my business, my daughter’s final year of high school, and the mental health of my children, so my word for 2021 was quite simply ‘Survivel’. And it worked.

In 2023 on the contrary, I was focused on putting a number of incredibly challenging years behind me, and so I chose the word ‘Expansion’ – expansion across my personal life (I started dating for the first time in 5 years, I took more risks, I climbed an active volcano, I moved to bali to live for 2 months, I said ‘Yes’ more than I said ‘No’, I relinquished some of the control and coddling I had exerted over my kids) and my business life (I explored new markets, new clients, new products, new models, new lots of things). And it worked.

Tip 2: Your word needs to feel very, very right

Your ‘word’ needs to be exceptionally intentional because it is designed to encompass, in just one word, your entire intention for the year. As such, it’s important that you get your word very right.

Once you have set your intention for the type of year you want to experience, think about the words that best describe this intention. Play around with the thesaurus. Jump into AI and describe the type of year you want to experience and ask AI to generate 20 words that best describe your intention.

When you think you have your word, or that you have narrowed it down to a handful of words – share it with a few trusted friends and workshop the word until it feels very right. I have a group of business accountability women. I trust them with the intimate details of my business and they reciprocate. Each year, towards the end of the year, we meet and make a business plan for the following year – we set our intentions, finalise the products we want to focus on, discuss our markets and avatar clients, set our targets and choose our word for the following year. We take this seriously – we actively debate, justify and toss around words. We have been known to talk each other ‘out’ of a word and ‘into’ a better word. It is an exhilarating and year defining discussion.

Tip 3: Your word needs to cut across everything

Your ‘word’ needs to cut across all of the aspects of your life that are important to you. Choose one word that sets the right intention across your 7 life list chapters that make you a well rounded individual: health and wellbeing; wealth; adventure; growth; giving; relationships; lifestyle & environment. For example, don’t choose a word that sets a strong intention for your career but which does not touch on how you want to live your family life or which does not impact your new approach to your habits and behaviours and experiences. Your word needs to be all encompassing – it needs to sing to your soul.

Tip 4: Share your word

Sharing your word with your friends, family and colleagues is self affirming. It will add a little accountability to the agenda. It will allow you to explain the decisions you make throughout the year. It will firm up your intention. I will help keep you on track. And sharing is just plain fun.

Make 2024 the year you substitute your New Year’s Resolutions for your Word of the Year.

My word for 2024 is “Upgrade”. What’s your word for 2024?

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Design & Deliver A Dream Life
With Kate Christie

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I am an executive coach and small business coach specialising in time management, productivity, goal setting and life by design.
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Grief and loss taught Kate—a top lawyer turned time management expert for global businesses—life is too short. You need to set then chase outrageous goals. Now.
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At its heart, this book is about sharing my story so that you know you aren’t alone – that there are many women just like you who are reflecting on what’s next.
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