Pick a one-word theme for a New Year’s resolution you really can keep

A list of resolutions can be daunting and unachievable. Why not pick a more manageable 'theme of the year' instead? (pic: istockphoto.com/catherine_jones)

A list of resolutions can be daunting and unachievable. Why not pick a more manageable ‘theme of the year’ instead? (pic: istockphoto.com/catherine_jones)

I believe less is more when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. There’s nothing more demoralising than making a 10-strong list on 1st January promising yourself ways you’re going to be a better person, only to find that seven have already slipped out of possibility a week later. The fizz of optimism can disappear faster from your list than a warm glass of last night’s Champagne, and you may give yourself a hard time for ‘failing’.

In fact, fear of failing is one of the two main reasons why people don’t make resolutions. (The other reason is that they don’t believe in them, according to an Australian study). And people fail to stick at them because other things get in the way, they lose focus, or the resolution wasn’t that important in the first place.

A more achievable way of making positive change in your life is to have a goal that is realistic. One way of doing that, I’ve found, is to pick a theme for the year. Kathy Caprino’s Huffington Post article A new type of New Year’s resolution that will bring happiness makes some wonderful suggestions for themes, such as ‘peace’, ‘wealth’ and ‘prosperity’. She suggests pinning the word around your home to keep you focused on what you want to achieve for the year.

A theme I had last year is ‘joy’. I resolved that everything I did (where possible) was to bring joy into my life and the lives of those around me. It helped me make decisions in all areas of my life through which career avenue to follow and whether to donate specific clothes to friends or charity. To whom would my actions bring the most joy? How will what I’m doing now bring more joy into my life? This year it will be ‘trust’ – which encapsulates qualities such as patience, tolerance, compassion and acceptance.

Whatever theme you choose, it can act as a filter through which to pass thoughts, feelings, choices and dilemmas. A theme creates far fewer chances for you to give yourself a hard time for not sticking to everything on that resolutions list. And it might just keep its fizz for a whole while longer.

Other articles I liked on this topic:

Why your new year’s resolutions fail and some tips for optimists

What to do when you encounter the New Year’s resolution blues 

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