July 27, 2016


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It is likely by this, the seventh day of the new year, you have resettled into your old routines along with your New Year’s resolutions to lose ten pounds, read more books, or spend more time with your mother-in-law. It’s no secret that oftentimes, no matter how well-intended we are when we begin, we end up abandoning our New Year’s resolutions, often pretty quickly.  Sometimes the momentum hangs on for awhile but to carry a resolution through the ups and downs of daily living for a full twelve months takes…well…resolve.

This January, we feel especially committed to figuring out what we can do differently to hang on to the ideals that give us energy and make us gaze at the year ahead with wide-eyed wonder.  In our search for a new plan, we stumbled upon Chris Brogan who introduced us to the idea that, rather than stating an explicit goal–such as, “Lose ten pounds”–it is better to find a word that embodies the way you want to identify yourself.

For example, if your goal is to lose weight, then perhaps a word like “health” or “transform” describes what you’re trying to accomplish.  What’s more, a word like “health” or “transform” can act as a sort of mantra that you can repeat to yourself when you grab a cookie from the snack cabinet, making a goal feel attainable and, possibly, increasing the likelihood of success.

We have spent a considerable amount of time over the last week or so trying to figure out which words might serve us well in the new year, as we “resolve” to honor the New Year’s spirit long past the New Year. In the process, we’ve noticed several things about the ways selecting three words (vs. writing resolutions) has made us think and act.

  1. Selecting three words to identify with all year as you are working to improve makes you think really hard about what you want to change in your life.
  2. Choosing the “right” words is difficult, especially since most words are loaded with multiple meanings that change when you place them in different contexts. Sometimes a word that seems perfect when you apply it to one goal, doesn’t fit when you lay it alongside another.
  3. Both nouns and verbs work for this exercise, Kim is especially partial to words that serve both parts of speech (such as “challenge” or “stretch.”)
  4. We think this would be a great exercise to do with kids—and, what’s more: it would be aligned very closely with Common Core Language standard 3 that expects that children “apply knowledge of language to understand how language functions in different contexts, to make effective choices for meaning or style, and to comprehend more fully when reading or listening.”
  5. An interesting variation for this exercise is to do it with a partner and think about what three words you’d “give” him or her for the year.  We have done some of this. Sometimes it’s hard for us to see the things we most need to work on and in a trusting relationship, this offers the goal setter a new perspective to think about.

So, as we conclude today’s blog, we’d like to wish all of our readers a very happy, new year filled with Health. Hope. Love. Be well and feel free to tell us what your “words” are for the New Year!

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