My personal, and professional, experience in the world of weight loss has shown me what so many experts say – most New Year’s resolutions fail within a few weeks and are abandoned entirely shortly after. However, there is something seductive about looking at the year ahead and imagining the radical changes you could make in those twelve wide open months. It is hard to resist making a grand declaration on the eve of each new year.
The great motivator, Tony Robbins says, “…most people overestimate what they can accomplish in a year and underestimate what they can achieve in a decade.” At one time I would have taken this statement as a challenge. I would have thought, “I’ll show you what I can do in a year!” After a few frantic weeks of hastily made resolutions, I would have felt like a terrible failure when reality proved his observation to be true. Now I hear it as encouragement to take a breath when the calendar changes. Rather than aim high each year I can make bigger long term goals then accomplish them at a much more manageable pace.
In the final days of 2014, I did something I had never done before. I decided to dedicate 2015 to a year of kindness. This alternative to a New Year’s resolution gave me so much more than a check list – it offered me a guide to use throughout the year. Instead of several resolutions I had only a single intention to remember. Keeping the theme of kindness at the forefront of my mind was as easy as repeating the reminder, “be kind”, as often as possible – my children gave me many opportunities to speak my intention out-loud.
The tiny reminder had a ripple effect on both my thoughts and actions. More often than before, I considered the perspective of others rather than jumping to conclusions. When I began approaching food from a place of kindness it became much easier to make healthy choices, both for myself, and my family.
At the start of the year I did not expect any great philosophical shifts. However, as the year comes to a close I can see how powerful the effect has been. Thanks to my year of kindness I find myself forgiving more easily – both myself and others. I have a greater sense of peace, increased gratitude for what I have, and my priorities reflect my new attitude. Best of all, I have come to the end of the year with a better relationship with myself than ever before.
Once again I am forgoing the tradition of creating a list of habits to break and things to do in the new year. In 2016 I am going to tune my thoughts and actions to a single word – connection. I can already envision the theme of connection or connecting affecting choices in both my personal and professional life. Focusing on connection could mean making more eye contact, taking someone by the hand, and having more meaningful conversations. In other ways I see it motivating me to work in my garden and take more walk in nature. Certainly there is a place for connection in my approach to food and health. This theme of connection may even result in the severing of connections to material things and technology that hold me back from fully participating in the real world.
The beauty of this practice is not needing to know all the ways it can work. It is more important to let the theme guide individual choices and be open to learning from the results.
My challenge for you- as the new year approaches, do away with grand declarations and resolutions, instead, dedicate the next 12 months to a single positive sentiment. Keep the word or phrase in the forefront of your thoughts. You may want to write it down, paint it on a canvas, or embroider it on a pillow. Speak your intention often and use it as a touchstone for your actions.
I can’t promise that a single word will change your life – but I am pretty sure it is worth finding out.