The word is “EXPERIMENT“.
All my life I’ve heard people make New Year’s resolutions. Lose weight, exercise more, quit smoking, quit swearing, pay down debt, save more… Most resolutions look at a negative aspect of life and assert a desire to do better.
I’ve never been very nostalgic, and I don’t have a lot of regrets. I swear, sometimes a lot. But those other things really aren’t trouble spots for me. So resolutions don’t hold much appeal. Besides, we all know most people fail in their resolution intentions.
But most of us want to be better people than we are today, and we struggle to find ways to become those people. Are there alternatives to the famous resolutions?
Sure. Some people find great success with making detailed plans. Rather than having some nebulous notion of paying off debt, they comb through current expenses, determine where cuts can be made, review outstanding bills, find which carry highest interest rates… With this information they plan where to put extra effort to make progress. And with some willpower and follow-through, they can succeed.
In the last few years, a new trend has appeared. The idea is to have one word to focus on throughout the year. The word should become something of a mantra. It should embody a broader notion of change, not in a specific behavior, but in how you view yourself and your world. Not “what do you want to do?” but “how do you want to be?”
My word for 2014 is “EXPERIMENT”. Yes, this is a verb, a “to do” word. But I want to encourage experimental behavior, to see myself as one who experiments. Many times I’ve entered a new year with a big squishy desire to try new things, especially in my creative work. Sometimes what holds me back is prioritizing my time. Sometimes it is fear. I haven’t pushed myself to try things out, often due to fear of failure.
For example, last year I asked for a set of Shiva Paintstiks for Christmas. Yes, I’ve opened the package. No, I haven’t tried them yet. WHY NOT?? Because they are new. And because I don’t think of myself as an artist. And if I tried them and the results were poor… what?? What bad thing would have happened? Nothing.
Experiment. Try something new. Be open to failure. Be open to success. Try those Paintstiks. Try new foods, new paths, new adventures.
Experiment with how I think about things. Experiment with how I use resources of all kinds. Experiment with where I get information, and how I convey it. Experiment with swearing less.
A year ago, without having heard about the “word” method of focusing change, I wrote the word “CREATE” on a white board near my sewing machine. Underneath I wrote “Write Doodle Color Sew Quilt Dream!” In truth, 2013 has been a highly creative year for me. I’m not sure my word “CREATE” helped inspire that. But seeing it often did not hurt.
EXPERIMENT. It’s a worthy goal unto itself and needs no specific outcome.
Do you make resolutions? Have you ever chosen a word of the year? How do you set goals for your future?