The New Year’s Resolution You’ve Already Broken

Editor's note: This is a guest post from Alece Ronzino. After leading a nonprofit in South Africa for 13 years, Alece now lives in Nashville, TN. She is the founder of One Word 365. Connect with her on Twitter and on her blog.

Everything was spinning out of control the first time I felt the nudge. My husband had left, and the nonprofit we'd founded was in jeopardy. I felt like a failure in every possible way.

Resolution list
Photo Credit: creepyed via Compfight cc

As New Year's approached, I struggled to see the hope in the start of a new calendar.

The promise of a fresh beginning seemed like a bait-and-switch mirage. The mere thought of writing a list of resolutions left me feeling completely discouraged before I even started.

New Year's resolutions had never really worked for me. I would start the year with intense focus and commitment, writing a long list of goals for the next twelve months. But inevitably, six weeks in, I'd be hard pressed to even recall anything on the list.

And I definitely never managed to cross off even half of the items by the end of the year. (Let's be honest: by December, I had no idea where my list even was.)

A resolution revolution

Already feeling like a miserable failure, I couldn't imagine setting myself up to fail yet again with another round of resolutions.

So in a resolution revolution, I decided to scrap the whole idea and instead choose just one word to focus on all year long. I figured that one word would at least be memorable, and could serve as a touchstone, something to keep returning to when I needed clarity.

I wanted one word to be the filter through which I made decisions, the lens through which I chose to see myself and others, and the compass pointing me to true north.

It wasn't about something I wanted to do as much as it was about who I wanted to become.

And the nudge I felt, the word that kept rising to the surface, absolutely terrified me. It seemed too big. Too daunting. It felt like a loose cannon, and I couldn't possibly imagine where this word would lead me.

But I couldn't shake it.

A year of risk

So I finally committed to my one word, said it out loud, and proclaimed it on my blog: risk.

Even now, a few years later, I take a deep breath just thinking about all the risk that year held for me — or rather, all the risk I purposefully pursued:

  • I went on vacation with a bunch of people I'd met only three weeks before.
  • I rappelled 100 feet into a Mexican canyon.
  • I prayed risky prayers.
  • I went on an eight-week fundraising trip by myself.
  • I completed a half-marathon.
  • I had difficult conversations, made some really hard decisions, pursued answers for long-term health challenges, and hit publish on especially-vulnerable blog posts.

That year, I was stretched and challenged in so many ways and became a better person for it. I also discovered my limits went much further than I ever knew.

I had a love/hate relationship with risk, but it completely shaped my year. More than that, it completely shaped me.

Staging your own revolution

Would you join me in doing something truly revolutionary this year?

Instead of making the same tired list of arbitrary resolutions (that you've probably already broken), why not scrap the plans and choose just one word you can focus on every day, all year long. One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.

And remember: If it doesn’t scare you at least a little bit, it’s probably not the right word. Choose your word, write it down, and find a community to encourage you. I assure you: it's worth the risk.

What's your one word for this year? Share in the comments.

After leading a nonprofit in South Africa for 13 years, Alece now lives in Nashville, TN. She is the founder of One Word 365. Connect with her on Twitter and on her blog.

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