Let’s be honest, how many of us have already scrapped our New Year’s resolution(s), or failed to even get the ball rolling? This year I told myself I was going to actually send out some of those corny New Year’s cards with a nice picture of my family looking unattainably well-rested. Great idea on my part, but the cards are still sitting in a pile on my kitchen table.

Y’all feel me, right?

The start of a new year can be exciting because we feel as though we are starting over and that we have a new opportunity to become a better person this trip around the sun. While I am sure there are some people out there that love New Year’s resolutions, and really put their all into it year after year, most of us fall short as I have with my New Year’s cards. Here is one possible solution that could help—it’s something I am going to be doing myself.

Take a moment and ask yourself, “What are my words for 2018? What is my theme, my driving force?” Spend some real time thinking about what you want to accomplish and what these things have in common, or what all of these things will require from you over these next 12 months. Then, start crafting a phrase around these things which can immediately bring you back to that mental space.

I was reminded of this concept recently during an online conversation I had with a childhood friend. She asked me, “Wes, what are your words for 2018?” and my immediate reaction—in my head—was something about this being hipster nonsense and how I’m not going to do it. But, I had to check myself. This friend is incredibly authentic, always mindful, and just an all-around deep and compassionate person. I gave it some real thought and came up with the phrase Disciplined Growth.

A few years ago, the last time I did this exercise, I decided my word was Forward. The forward mindset helped me to officially start and complete grad school, to say yes to more opportunities, and to become more serious about writing. Even later down the line, forward became a key theme around the name of my private counseling practice.

Many therapists far more experienced than myself have written extensively on the negative impact of making New Year’s resolutions. The truth is we can start over any time we want, and artificially creating a reason to say we are going to be different is often not helpful. What I like about this exercise is its flexible for people like myself who do not vibe well with strictly defined rules and parameters.

If you are more of a free spirit and you need something to help you become more disciplined in accomplishing your goals—or you are a parent, overworked, or a combination of both—then give this a try. But, if you try it, no half-steppin’. Spend some serious time thinking about what you want to accomplish and what the reoccurring themes are within these goals. For me, I have a list of things I want to accomplish that will require me to develop a better weekly and daily routine, and if I actually do these things they will help to push me to new heights professionally.

So, what are your words for 2018? What will drive you this year?

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Posted by Wesley Jackson Wade

Wes is a licensed and certified counselor serving clients in the areas of mental health, substance abuse, and career development. He is a SAMHSA and NBCC Addictions Fellow, and currently, he is pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership, Policy, & Human Development with a concentration in Counseling & Counselor Education. #EmpathyEvangelist #ComicNerd #HipHopHead. Peace, love, & power.

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