Forget New Year’s Resolutions. Most people don’t know how to make them so they’re able to keep them. And most of those resolutions are unrealistic anyway.
Think instead about a general theme for the New Year, something that will guide your actions, not just for one day, but for the entire year.
Here’s what I mean. In 2013, I made several ill-advised career decisions that put me into financial and emotional debt. Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of what was really important to me. So at the start of 2014, I came up with a simple three-word phrase as a guide for the rest of the year. I chose “Reclaiming Your Life” as my mantra, and that phrase guided me to make better choices about my future.
When I first started this blog, I wrote about three-word mantras in terms of career missions. You can read that post here. My comments then still hold true. A three-word theme can relate to one specific aspect of your life, like your career or your relationships, or your entire life. The important thing is to come up with a phrase that resonates with who you are today and what you want to achieve.
As we enter the first week of 2019, I’ve come up with new phrases – two of them, in fact, to guide me throughout the year. “Rewrite my story” not only refers to one of the novels and the numerous essays and short stories I’ve begun writing and haven’t finished, but also my own life story. I’m not changing anything about my past – that has already happened. But I do think about how I can change the direction of my life moving forward.
The second phrase, “Say Yes More” is intended to be more accepting and welcoming of everything that comes into my life – new people, opportunities, invitations.
How would I – or any one of us — rewrite the course of our lives if we said yes more?
Here’s another example. Perhaps you are going through a major transition in your life, perhaps a career change or a divorce. You might use the phrase “Build a Bridge” to connect from your past to your future. There are numerous other possibilities. Try one of these for yourself, or create your own.
* Believe in Yourself
* Believe in Others
* Find Your Passion
* Speak Your Truth
* Treat Others Kindly
* Act with Compassion
No matter what you choose for yourself, your three-word phrase should consist of three elements.
1. Be action-oriented. Begin your statement with a verb — Build, Find, Act, Believe, etc. The verb drives the action, like the engine of a locomotive. You’re not waiting for something to happen to you because you are the one driving the action. It’s proactive rather than reactive.
2. Make it positive. A positive tone and message is more inspiring and motivational. With a positive three-word theme, you’ll want to follow it all year long.
3. Focus on your power as an instrument of change. What influence do you want to make in the world? Do you want to help others, heal others, write, build homes or make people laugh? Or do you just want to be a better human being?
Once you’ve come up with your theme, write it down and put it somewhere where you can see it every day, like the refrigerator door or the bathroom mirror. Every time you see it, think of it as an active meditation.
Instead of a general theme, you can make it project-specific. For example, if you need motivation to maintain a writing practice, try the phrase “Write 500 words” or “Publish a story.” When you see those messages on your mirror every day, it serves as a reminder of what you want to achieve and it can help you stay on track of your goal.
The three-word phrase works because it’s short, it’s action-oriented and it’s positive. There’s also a rhythm to the sound the phrase makes when you say it, especially if you choose words with a single syllable. For example, listen to the pattern of sound when you say “Speak Your Truth.” It’s like a heartbeat – boom, boom, boom – and that heartbeat is coming from you.
Make New Year’s Resolutions if you want. Or you can take a different approach with a three-word theme to guide your actions throughout the year.
Good luck, and Happy New Year!