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A Word to Guide You vs. A New Year’s Resolution


Choose a word that will help to guide you throughout the year. In tough situations recall your word and ask yourself: “What thoughts, words and actions would help me to stay aligned with my focus for this year?

For example:

  • Instead of setting a goal to “lose weight, or “work-out more” you might think about what word would gently guide you towards committing to a movement practice, eating nourishing foods and choosing to surround yourself with people who value you. Words like “Discipline, Perseverance, Tenacity, and Courage” might suit you.

  • If you feel like the world is spinning around you and you are having a difficult time finding your footing, you might look towards words like “Orderliness, Hope, Faith, Gratitude and Contentment” to guide you through 2021.

  • If you feel like you’ve had too many hostile interactions with people you love due to politics or the state of the world and you want to find a way back to a place of mutual respect, Words like: “Humility, Compassion, Acceptance, Dignity, and Flexibility” might be of use to you.

How to Find Your Word:

-Think of one or two people who inspire you and list some virtues of theirs that you admire. Observe this list and circle any words that jump out to you. You may be especially drawn to virtues that you feel you need more of in your life.

-Recall a challenging conversation, or situation from last year. Think about a virtue or quality that you would have benefitted from having in that moment.

-Think about this upcoming year. Can you write down some healthy habits that you would like to continue from last year? Can you think of some changes or goals that you would like to work towards for next year?

Look at your two lists. Can you choose a few words that would help you to remained focused on who you would like to become this next year? Narrow it down to one word.

For inspiration on words checkout this site which provides a list of virtues.


Keep a log of how you were able to apply your word into your daily life. If you can’t think of how the virtue showed up in your day, think about an upcoming situation and write how your word will help to get you through it.


  • Today I felt lazy and didn’t feel like doing anything other than what I had to. I thought about Persevering and encouraged myself to get up and go for a walk around the block.

  • Today, at the store, I saw a friend that I had an argument with a while ago. I could have turned down the next aisle before he saw me and avoid the situation but instead, I used Courage to say “hello” and check in with him. I feel like we cleared the air and that the situation is actually behind us now.

  • I had the whole day planned out but then one thing after the other came up and my plans fell apart. Instead of giving into despair, I remembered my word, Flexible. I adjusted my day the best I could without becoming too upset over the changes.

Why Choose a Word over a Resolution?

If resolutions work for you, then go crazy on the resolution list! For the rest of us, goal oriented lists aren't helpful. In fact, studies claim that only 8% of people who make resolutions keep them for an entire year. Unsurprisingly, 80% of people fail by the second month of the year.

A different approach to tackling 2021 is by thinking about a virtue that may help to guide you through. This way you don’t feel disappointed in yourself when you don’t meet some lofty goal or fail to check things off your list. Instead, as you face difficult situations recall your word and ask yourself if you are living up to it.

For example, last year I was feeling meek and afraid to change my living situation. I was choosing to be comfortable rather than courageous. So, I chose the word: Courage. I applied Courage to many situations in my life. When there were conversations that I didn’t want to have, I would ask myself “Am I being courageous, or fearful?” Every time I acted with courage I felt more at ease and aligned with who I wanted to be. Every time I choose to let the fear override, I would feel anxious and stressed until I could act with courage.

This year I chose the word humility. I am feeling a tangible tension with loved ones and neighbors and I believe that I could really benefit from connection rather than alienation. So, I want to work on listening and removing my pride and opinions in order to better hear where people are coming from. I don’t need to agree with everyone, but I want to start each conversation with an open mind and the goal of understanding and listening rather than convincing and responding. I am looking forward to seeing how humility can be helpful in other aspects of my life as well.

Take your time choosing your word, there is no rush. For some of you, the word will pop into your head without effort. Others will want to stew over it for a few days

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