New Year’s resolutions work, sometimes. They tend to work better if you set them more than once a year. They work when you stop trying to change yourself, and commit to being more who you really are. And they especially work when you tear up your long list of great expectations and good intentions, and focus instead on one thing at a time.
A few years ago, I decided to shrink my New Year’s resolutions list down to a single word. In the end, the word I chose was “love.” I made love my daily focus all through the year. I bought a Moleskine journal, and paid a local printer to emboss the word “love” in silver lettering. I went online and designed some small “love” stickers (the size of a postage stamp) that I stuck on:
• the bathroom mirror (to start the day right)
• my computer (to dedicate all of my work to love)
• the fridge door (to help me make loving choices about food)
• my wallet (because I love feeling prosperous)
• my wardrobe (to remind me only to buy clothes I love)
• the toilet seat (for help with letting go)
• the water filter (for loving the cells of my body)
• the car steering wheel (to help me drive safely)
• my cell phone (to speak with love and listen with love)
• the bedside alarm clock (to finish the day on love)
I ordered golf balls from my local golf club with “love” printed on them. I bought a wonderful hand-made needlepoint wool wall-hanging designed by Paul Smith called “Love.” I designed some “Love” T-shirts. You get the idea.
The aim was to bring a single, unified intention of “love” to everything: my day, my spiritual practice, my relationships, my diet, my leisure, and my work. Throughout the year, I experienced how my relationship to love influenced every other relationship in my life including my relationship to my body, to my friends, to my work, to money, to God, to sugar, to time, and to everything.
Focusing on just one thing changed everything. I was more present and less distracted. I was more conscious and less manic. I lived with intention. Each new day felt like a creative event. I felt more on purpose than before. I was more open. Most of all, I felt like love was showing me how to love and be loved. I was a student enrolled in a live inquiry that became more interesting and helpful as the year progressed.
Setting a New Year’s resolution based on one word has become a personal tradition. One year I chose “happiness,” another year “success,” another year “trust,” and last year I chose “miracles.” This year I have chosen “openness.” “I encourage you to try it yourself. Pick one word. And let this word be your compass, your north star, and your traveling companion for a whole year. As soon as you know what your word is, start making some stickers!
Happy New Year!
Robert Holden PH.D is the author of Loveability (published by Hay House). His work on psychology and spirituality has been featured on Oprah, Good Morning America, a PBS specialShift Happens!, and two BBC documentaries. Robert writes daily on his FB page and hosts a weekly radio show for Hay House Radio called Shift Happens!