Making New Year's resolutions can be dated back to the Ancient Babylonians - over 4,000 years ago. The Babylonians didn't necessarily make resolutions for self-improvement purposes like we do today, they used resolutions as a way to make promises to their gods.
From that time until now, at the start of each new year, people have been making resolutions with the intent of improving themselves, changing their situations, refocusing their lives and reflecting on their past mistakes. With each resolution comes the expectation of positive change.
However, according to statistics, 43% of resolutions made are forgotten after just one month and only 10% last after three months. Needless to say, the success rate of resolutions is grim.
This being the case, why waste time making resolutions when they are a set-up for failure? Those failures have led to the interesting development of "Quitter's Day" which originally was January 19th each year, but has since been moved up to the second Friday in January. Quitter's Day happens to fall on January 12, 2024 this year.
What does having an official "Quitter's Day" tell you? I mean, why even set yourself up for failure?
The Alternative to Resolutions - Choosing a Word of the Year
If making resolutions is something you do every year, but are tired of never keeping them, there is something else you can do. If you don't want to make resolutions yet still want to work on yourself or set some goals, you can alternatively choose a "word of the year." This is what works for me and many others that I know. Choosing a "Word of the Year" is both beneficial to improvement and serves to keep you focused on many areas of your life through ONE WORD (Click here for additional information on choosing a Word of the Year). I have been choosing a word of the year for several years now and it has made a lot of difference in my life.
Honestly, focusing on ONE WORD and applying that word to different areas of your life is much more rewarding than setting yourself up for failure within the first month of the new year. You can choose any word - whatever you want your focus to be. Once you choose that word, you can apply it to many aspects of your life.
For me, as a Christian, my word of the year always points my focus on the Lord FIRST. By making God my primary focus, the other areas of my life are easier to navigate and sort through. In Matthew 6:33 Jesus tells us "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you." When you seek God FIRST - through a word of the year - your life becomes more clear. In essence, you are saying to God that He is your focus and that with His help, the rest will fall into place. (And it does!!)
I have to say here that my word of the year is always a word that God places on my heart. I pray about what HE needs me to focus on for the upcoming year and from there I follow the leading of the Holy Spirit.
So, this year my word of the year is "steadfast." I know that I need to focus on the Lord and remain in a state of unwavering faith. (At times this has been hard for me to do.) This word is perfect for me this year because I know that I need to stand firm and remain immovable where the Lord is concerned - standing on His Word and His promises - doing everything in my life as if I am doing it for Him.
Now, I do take my "word of the year" a step further and add a scripture of the year to it. This year my scripture is 1 Corinthians 15:58 which says: "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord." This scripture not only reminds me to be steadfast but to also remember that everything I do should be done as to the Lord and that nothing I do - when doing it FOR HIM - is in vain.
I create a small poster of my word of the year, print it out and put it everywhere - in my journal, planner, post it on my wall, and make it a screensaver - so that I can be reminded of where my focus needs to be. The good news is, that when I fall short - and I'm sure I will at some point - I can pick right up where I left off, refocus and get back on track.... AND if I fail this year, I can go into next year with the same word and do better - with the Lord's help, of course.
If you need help deciding on a word of the year, take a look at the picture below and if one of the words stands out to you, that may just be where you should focus....
Now, once I have my word of the year, I use it to set some goals that I want to accomplish throughout the year. (If you want to read about goal setting click here.)
I don't consider setting goals the same as making resolutions because goals are things that you'd like to accomplish, not things you'd like to change. For me, that is a big difference. Because I am a "list person" goals help me to stay on track.
In my opinion, there is nothing better than to have focus. Choosing a word of the year does just that. If you have never tried to hone in on your life using a word of the year, it's never too late to start!!
Here's to a beautiful 2024! I pray that you have a wonderful and blessed year ahead.