Do You Hate Resolutions? Choose One Focus Word For The New Year

As much as I like reflecting on the past year and planning the new one, I truly hate resolutions. Not because I can’t keep them, because I usually don’t even make any. I don’t like big words, I prefer small steps, and I definitely can’t see the point in setting some big goals that’s too intimidating to even think of.

Certainly, I’m not alone. Countless people who make New Year’s resolutions give up every January, and think back on their big goals with guilt for the rest of the year. That’s not the point though. It should be something that motivates us and helps us live a better life in the coming year.

Swiss Alps, 2016

Maybe for some people, resolutions work. But for lots of them, they don’t. I’m in the latter group, and still I was thinking about a way of setting goals that keep me focused in this new year. If I had learned anything in 2020, it’s that if I’m focused in my personal life, it helps me through those times when the world seems to be falling apart.

Actually, it was the word “focus” that got my attention when someone told me about how she planned her new year: with a focus word. It’s your guiding word for the year, something that you’d like to keep in mind while you’re working toward your goals, something that applies to more areas of your life. It’s not a big goal, it’s something even more important that you want to keep in mind whatever you do. You really want to focus on that thing, hence the name.

And I like this idea. So I enthusiastically did a bit more research about it and decided to implement it in 2021. (Yeah, I realized during my research that it’s been kind of a new trend in the USA for years now, and it looks like it reached us in the Eastern corner of Europe with a few years delay… just as it usually happens.)

How to choose a focus word?

Suchá bela, Slovak Paradise, Slovakia

First thing first, let’s see that focus word. You choose it for yourself based on… well, that’s the tricky part. Based on what?

I used these questions and considerations for help:

  • What’s the most important areas in my life that need improvement?
  • What were the moments in 2020 that I wish I could’ve handled better? What would help me in that?
  • What are those words that feel like a push towards my goals? Which of them are positive and motivating? Which of them feels the most important? Which applies to more areas of my life?
  • What do I want more of in my life? What do I want less of?
  • Am I ready to focus on this?
  • What feelings does this word awaken in me? Is it inspiring, supportive or intimidating, overwhelming?

Why just one word?

Fusine Lakes, Julian Alps, Italy, 2020

I know I don’t have to use just one word, some people use 3-4. Yet the minimalist in me wants to choose only one, because it’s so simple and elegant and, well, it helps me focus on that one only which is the whole point. That one word affects several areas of my life, and that’s enough. More than enough.

How to make my focus word part of my everyday life?

Wasatch Range, Utah, USA, 2015

Suggestions are abundant: you write it down and post it on your mirror, you create personalized jewelry with your focus word, you make it part of your daily meditations… It was hard for me to decide which one I dislike the most, they’re so not like me. But I can easily tell my favorite way to reflect, analyze and plan: writing!

So I decided I’ll bring up my focus word to reflect on it in my personal journal from time to time, and I’ll also share about my progress with it in the monthly recaps on this blog.

And my focus word for 2021: patience

It was one of the first words that came to my mind, and with a good reason. I’ve never been a particularly patient person, and I always wanted to be, but especially the past year.

Double Lakes, Triglav National Park, Slovenia, 2020

For one, I spent the year at home with my one year old baby boy. Even if you don’t know much about babies, everyone knows that you need a lot of patience when dealing with a baby (or a toddler… or a kid… or a teen…). Your days consist of repetitive actions. You say the same sentences quite often, and when your little one finally understands them, he too often ignores them. As for my part, I can add horrible nights with too few sleeping hours to the mix, because our Tomi is not a good sleeper. Believe it or not, sleeping less didn’t make me more patient either.

Then there was COVID-19, how could I miss that from the list? There were weeks of waiting and not knowing for sure what comes next and when, especially last spring. But the rest of the year was not much more certain than spring, we maybe just learned to live with it. After being at home and going nowhere with our newborn baby boy in the first few months, my feet were itching to go last spring… and ever since. But I have to be patient. I can’t do much about anything that happens in the world right now, I can only wait. I just want the whole coronavirus thing to be over – which, I’m afraid, won’t happen in 2021.

Fusine Lakes, Julian Alps, Italy, 2020

Finally, there are my carrier plans… or the lack of them. I’m only sure of one thing: I don’t want to go back to a 40-hours office job and spend almost zero time with my little boy in his waking hours. I want something flexible that can preferably be done from home. I’m lucky with the system in Hungary which gives me up to 3 years of maternity leave, and I’d like to take advantage of it and spend as much time as possible with my Tomi. And even though I don’t have much time or energy for big carrier plans, they’re always in the back of my mind, and it frustrates me that I don’t have a solid path in front of me and clear answers to all my doubts. I’d better be more patient with myself – and make peace with the facts that I’ll probably always have doubts and uncertainties.

More patience would help me enjoy the simple pleasures and better cope with the uncertainties of our everyday lives. It would enable me to experiment more, and learn new skills even if I don’t have a 100% precise plan on how to use them later. Finally, patience would bring a more peaceful and happy atmosphere to our home in general – and another lesson for 2020 was that our home and our closest family really means the most.

Do you make resolutions or choose focus words? Tell us about yours if you like!

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By Beata Urmos

Bea is the co-founder of Our Wanders. She’s the writer and the trip organizer, and she’d love to help you plan your own amazing trips! She likes hiking, good novels and chocolate, as well. Her motto is: “A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.” (John A. Shedd)

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