I gave up New Year’s resolutions years ago for something a bit different — a word of the year. Resolutions are difficult to maintain, often forgotten, and rarely achieved. As someone who genuinely enjoys the fresh start of a new year, I shifted to finding a single word to guide me through the coming year.
This new approach, which is a popular blog topic, started to stick with me after reading The Alchemist. I grew to understand that a guiding word could help me make decisions, find answers, and move me throughout the year in a new way, preferably in a way that may not end in disappointment after four days.
For example, in 2019, my word of the year was Growth and I used it to focus on growing various aspects of my life. Over the year, growth became trying some new responsibilities at work, growth became a garden, and growth became improved fitness. For example, instead of telling myself I’d go to the gym everyday (which I knew I wouldn’t) and breaking a resolution by January 3rd, I focused on exercising when I could, physically challenging myself to grow through strength, endurance, and ability.
After a successful growth year, I named 2020 the year of Resilience. I picked the word in late December, and had no idea how valuable the word would be in the coming months.
Everyone has a different 2020 experience and story to share about the year. I am among the lucky ones, and remain thankful daily for my privileges and opportunities. Still, utilizing a guiding word proved valuable in a year where we all needed a boost, and did something resolutions never could.
At the beginning of the year, I looked to find a place I could work on some lingering health issues. In my hunt, I came across a chiropractor, and in their pitch to help me on my goals, they continuously used the word resilience. I took that as my sign, signed up, and have zero regrets. (They’re in the Denver area, if you’re interested and want to support local business. No, this is not a paid post.)
In early spring, I wanted to build resilience while skiing (I lacked endurance), and on the day I started my ski season (I’m a spring skier, leave me alone), Colorado closed all the ski resorts due to COVID-19.
Our friends at Webster define resilience as an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change, and when COVID-19 changed everything, resilience became so much more than a word.
Resilience became humor through drawing funny faces on our masks with my roommate, resulting in seeing who could make more people laugh at the grocery store. (We have no idea if we made them smile.)
Resilience became play with remote and online game nights and camping trips with people who may never had tried camping before the pandemic.
Resilience became tolerance while my eyelid grew 10 times too big during lockdown, resulting in 18 appointments, surgeries, and procedures to fix it through the year.
Resilience became strength during hiking 9.5 Colorado 14ers, gaining over 27,000 feet of elevation over 70 miles.
Resilience became patience while trying to find safe ways to spend time with friends and family that respected boundaries, minimized risk, and still brought people closer (but still six feet apart).
Resilience became understanding the facts, following the science, and listening to voices not heard enough — even when that truth is painful or uncomfortable.
I may not have exercised four days a week, got to inbox zero, or finished 20 books in 2020. But the truth is, I never completed these quantifiable goals when they were resolutions, either.
But in 2020, resilience allowed me to be flexible in ways resolutions never could, and solidified this activity as an important yearly practice worth continuing.
For 2021, my word is Revitalize. I can’t wait to see where it takes me.