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"Is it ever too late in the year to set goals? Of course not. A friend was telling me the other day about an alternative to setting New Year’s resolutions. You pick one work to be your mantra or guiding light for the year. One word. Wow, that I could remember! New Year’s resolutions generally aren’t so effective anyway. But one word, posted on my fridge or bathroom mirror, or recited each morning as a reminder, that I could do.

My friend picked the word “Stretch.” It helps her remember to stretch before she works out, but also, to stretch in her work, her relationships, things she wants to achieve. Brilliant.

So I spent a few days thinking about what my word would be. It didn’t jump out at me, but I finally decided on 'Balance.' Balance between work and play, a balanced diet, balance in including various activities I want to do or should do. Living a balanced life. I often work with my clients on creating a balance wheel of life, so it seems appropriate that I might 'walk the talk.'

I asked a few other friends to come up with what their word might be. One person said 'Sparkle.' Looking at life’s sparkly days, and bringing a sparkly attitude to others. When I hear the word Sparkly it makes me picture a lake with the sun sparking on it. Beautiful.

A friend said she is using the word 'Purge' for the second year in a row. Every day, she gets rid of one thing she doesn’t need. This can also extend to purging unhelpful thoughts. When we declutter our lives and our minds, we feel so much calmer.

How about 'Get-Ready?'  (OK, it’s not one word, but we’ll give a little room for a hyphenated thought, right?) A friend is getting ready for some transitions in the journey of life, including becoming a grandparent and thinking about retirement. How do you get ready for these big changes and stay balanced? What do you do to prepare, and how can you just stay in the moment and ride the wave of all the newness?  


Someone else said 'Breathe.' This is a reminder to breathe in the good moments, appreciate what is around us, and breathe when the world is feeling like an overwhelming place, which unfortunately is quite often these days.

Maybe your word is 'Invest.' Invest in yourself, invest in others, in your work or a hobby, in family or in friendships. Maybe it’s Active. Maybe it’s’ Nature. Or Peace. Or Eye-contact – something that doesn’t happen when we look at our phones too much. Or Study. Or Yoga. Or Sleep. Or Friends.

I also like the word 'Perspective.' It can be a reminder that what feels like a big problem in the moment, is often not that big of a deal. And that we are better humans when we put ourselves in someone else’s shoes and see things from their perspective. It is a particularly useful word in our current world of divisions and polarization in viewpoints.

Looking at all the words people shared with me, it makes me want to pick all of them! Though I realize that entirely defeats the purpose.

So if you are thinking about doing this, finding a word for this year, I’m on this journey right along with you. It’s probably going to take a while to get into this habit. I don’t expect every day to be in balance, but it’s the long haul that we’re after. The great thing about this is that if we skip a day tuning into our word, there is tomorrow, and the next day and the next day. It’s never too late to start, or start over."

Lynn Denton, LCSW


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