Did you make a New Year’s resolution this year? If so, how is it going?

If you’re still going strong, pat yourself on the back because you are in the minority. Studies show that only 8% of Americans who make a New Year’s resolution actually keep them all year, and 80% have failed by the start of February.

We start with great intentions - get healthier, ditch that bad habit, achieve that promotion - but our goals are often too lofty. Resolutions are easier to keep if they are small, measurable, and realistic. Instead of “get healthier,” your resolution could be to commit to at least 20 minutes of exercise each day.

Another alternative is to choose a “word of the year” instead of a resolution. This word should be your North Star for the year ahead; a single word that describes your intentions and guides you toward them. When you’re faced with a big decision, think of your word and decide which path leads toward that word.

Here are some “word of the year” ideas:

Simplify - Countless studies have shown that too much “stuff” creates stress. That stuff could be physical, like personal possessions, or mental, like worrying or taking on too many responsibilities. Think about the things in your life that feel cluttered and weighing you down, and tackle one at a time. Is it your schedule? Cancel the least important thing. Is it your closet? Donate anything that doesn’t fit or doesn’t make you happy, like those tired old pajamas. Get some pajamas that are made to last and make you happy. Don’t overthink it. Just take a deep breath and let it go.

Balance - If you feel pulled in many directions, struggling to juggle all of the demands - from work or other commitments, family needs, making time for friends, and taking care of yourself - balance could be a great word for you. Are you giving too much weight to one of these and setting yourself off-balance? It’s not easy to manage with all of those demands, but setting an intention and working toward it is a great start.

Joy - This one is straightforward. Do more things that bring you joy. Unsure of a decision? Ask yourself which option bring you more joy. Pros and cons lists are great, but which option speaks to your soul? If you’re dealing with a tough situation, stop and do something joyful - go for a walk and admire the natural beauty in your neighborhood, take a trip to your favorite ice cream store, put on your favorite Miss Elaine robe and get lost in a good TV show.

Bold - We all get stuck in a rut sometimes. Are you feeling pulled to try new things or go new places? We only have this one life. This year challenge yourself to step out of your comfort zone. Book that trip you’ve been wanting to take. Join the book club even though you don’t know anyone. Sign up for a class to learn a new skill. Be bold in your choices and take some thoughtful risks. At the very least you’ll have some good stories to tell!

Discipline - Do you find yourself being led by your heart instead of your brain? It’s not always a bad thing, but your heart sometimes needs some restraint. It can be a hard pill to swallow. No matter the part of your life where you feel you need more control - whether it’s your diet, internet usage, spending, gossiping, or other - you have the strength in you to tell yourself “no” when necessary and make the best decisions for you.

No - Speaking of “no,” this one came from a friend of mine. Her word for this year is “no.” While initially sounding negative, it’s actually quite freeing. She chose this word because last year she said “yes” too much. She had taken on too many commitments trying to please other people and ended up exhausted and burnt out. This year, she says she is making a conscious effort to draw more boundaries and say “no” when she feels like it.

No matter what your intention is for this year, we wish you all the best in achieving it. And if you don’t, that’s ok, too! What matters is that you made the most of your year - taking time to enjoy the special moments - in your own personal way.

What is your word of the year? Leave a comment and let us know!