I Gave Up New Year’s Resolutions and Here’s What Happened

fireworks above city at night
Change your thoughts and change your world.
Norman Vincent Peale

It’s that time of year! You’ve probably either laid out some resolutions for 2020 or you’re just getting back into the swing of things at work or with the kids back at school. One thing is for certain, I bet you have been asked at least one time if you have any resolutions going into the New Year. Years ago, when I was asked this fateful question, I finally got the nerve to say “no”, and here’s why I think you should, too.

In the past, resolutions have just been a poor attempt to make drastic life changes. Diets, workouts, getting rid of unhealthy habits or people in my life. All are great plans and some of them even worked, but by December of that year I was usually back to the conclusion that I needed to make a change. Until I finally got frustrated and asked myself, “why?”.

The point of resolutions is to help you move to a better you. Well, what makes a better you? Is it your weight or how you spend your free time or your faith? The answer is, there is no answer. Being a better you begins with a mindset and the start of a mindset comes from a word.

Now, for a little back-track. About five years ago, I was struggling with happiness in my current situation. I was tired of the job that I had, and that dissatisfaction ultimately bled into other parts of my life without me even realizing it. Suddenly, my favorite things just didn’t give me that internal “zing!” anymore. It was like eating food that didn’t have any flavor. When it finally dawned on me that I needed to make a change for my mental health, I started to do some research on getting yourself out of a “funk”. It was during this time that I went to lunch with a friend and sought out her advice.

Before meeting with her, I had all these grandiose plans of how I would be making a change; I wanted to go back to school, I wanted to move somewhere extravagant, I wanted to start on the latest crazy diet. I was grasping at anything to rejuvenate my spirits. However, those were all dashed when I spoke with my friend. She recommended instead of uprooting my entire life, to start living by a word. Yep, that’s right, a word. I looked at her like she was crazy and probably the same way that you’re looking at your screen right now.

She made the same recommendation I am going to make to you now. Reflect on your life, what makes you happy both personally and professionally? What are you doing daily to find that happiness and what in your life is taking you away from that happiness. Then, identify a core word or idea to bring your back to happiness. So, for that first year, I chose “positive”. I lived by this word and my whole world changed.

Instead of automatically looking at the negative of a situation, I actively chose to look at the positive. I found that the negative aspects of my life were there because I let them be there. Instead of sulking with life’s negative moments, I rose up day by day with a positive reminder that every single thing happens for a reason. The more I controlled my reactions to see the positive light, the easier it was and the happier I became. This also shed light on people and things in my life that only brought negativity, which I then reduced or eliminated from my life.

Now, I’m not saying that picking a word to live by for the year will also make every day sunshine and roses, but it will allow you to find the will power to get through those days and focus on what matters to you. I’ve continued to do this every year and have always entered the next year a better person than I was 365 days prior. Some words that I have chosen since then have been; patience, hustle, joy, and this year, fearless.

So now I challenge you to do some self-reflecting and find a word to live by in 2020.

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