Rethinking New Year’s Resolutions

Congratulations! Twenty-five percent of you resolution-setters are probably quitters! That’s right. According to statistics, fully one-quarter of New Year’s Resolutions made are not kept after the first week. And it’s only downhill from there.


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Why are resolutions so hard to keep? There are tips all over the Internet about how to keep your desired New Year’s Resolutions:

  • Write it down.
  • Make it specific.
  • Make it measurable.
  • Set/celebrate milestones.
  • Have an accountability partner.

And yet, the grim statistic is that only 8% of us will achieve our goals. Here are some more sobering statistics from Statistic Brain Research Institute about Americans and New Year’s Resolutions.

Percent who usually make New Year’s Resolutions
Percent who are successful in achieving their resolutions
Percent who have infrequent success
Percent who never succeed and fail each year
Percent who maintain resolutions through first week
Past two weeks
Past one month
Past six months

People vs. Numbers

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Here’s the real rub: it’s not about the measurable goal. Well, it is… sort of. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds, then obviously that’s your goal, but your real goal may be something different entirely. The 20 pound weight loss may be about getting healthier. Or moving more comfortably through your day. Or saving money by not having to buy a new wardrobe.

We aren’t statistics! We are people! While numbers are helpful, that’s not who we are. We are organic, moving creatures with goals, setbacks, and paradigm shifts. These are not always easily accommodated with a measurable, concrete, accountable goal. Instead of these failing New Year’s Resolutions, try this on for size:

one word.

It’s been buzzing around on the Internet and in the blogosphere for several years now. Instead of a resolution, choose one word with which to guide your life for the coming year. The nice thing about a word is that it can be fluid, organic, and changing depending on definition, connotation, and context. Rather than a set of numbers that tell us where we aren’t, a word can steer us like the North Star to where we want to be.

Word Choice

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When choosing a word, you want to make sure that it properly represents what you want. Finding the right word can be difficult. Think about your major goal or goals for the coming year – you know, the ones you used to turn into something measurable and specific – and find a word that encompasses the thoughts and feelings behind those goals.


It may be helpful to look a word up in the dictionary to see all of its definitions and usage. A word has many meanings, and knowing all of them can help identify a word’s connotation and context usage. It may also make a difference if the word is a noun like energy, a verb like energize, or an adjective like energetic.


It’s also important to consider the connotation of a word. For example, lovely and stunning both mean beautiful, but may evoke different feelings from you when you hear the word. The feelings that surround the word are just as important as the actual definition of the word.


The really nice aspect of choosing a word is that it can be applied in different contexts. For example, back to the weight loss example, choosing the word “Health” instead will have over-arching implications in other areas of your life. You may find that not only do you need to focus on your physical health, but perhaps stress at work has you prioritizing your mental health, or perhaps you realize that the health of familial relationships needs some attention. With a goal of “Health” you can have your mind opened to other possibilities and shift your focus when necessary, and see the importance of health in more than just your physical body.

To help you get started, here are ten popular resolutions redefined in a single word (two options given).

  1. Lose Weight – Health, Vitality
  2. Getting Organized – Order, Less
  3. Spend Less, Save More – Prudence, Stewardship
  4. Enjoy Life to the Fullest – Present, Joy
  5. Staying Fit and Healthy – Strong, Energy
  6. Learn Something Exciting – Culture, Expand
  7. Quit Smoking – Cease, Clear
  8. Help Others in Their Dreams – Lift, Serve
  9. Fall in Love – Love, Connect
  10. Spend More Time with Family – Together, Prioritize

Once you’ve chosen your word, make sure you put it in a prominent location (or two, or three). With a little help from some photo editing software, you can put a banner of your word on your computer background (see picture above) or your smartphone or tablet wallpaper. You can also hand-write or print your word, and frame it for use at work and/or home.

It’s not too late to ditch that resolution that has already or is still likely to fail. Crack open a Dictionary and a Thesaurus, and think about what direction you want your life to go. A single word may be all the inspiration you need to make 2016 the year you want it to be.

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Want more reasons to try a word for the new year? Check out Why You Need to Ditch Your New Year’s Resolution.

Photo Credits: AshleyStefani, Marie Long Photography, and Digs My Hart font by Kevin and Amanda



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Stefani Mons
Stefani Mons
Stefani was raised in California; with her husband hailing from South Carolina, they've settled in the middle and are now raising three Texans. She loves classical homeschooling, great books, period dramas, modifying recipes, simple living, deep thinking, and cuddling up with her family to watch silly YouTube videos.