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Ditch the New Year’s Resolutions & Try Three Guide Words!

As the New Year unfolds, do you participate in the three guide words activity that has become popular with many bloggers and blog readers? I do. Sort of. Admittedly, for the past three years I have chosen my three words carefully and then more or less forgotten about them. Sure I thought about them from time to time during the year – if I could remember what they were when I wanted to. But did they ever actually guide me? No, not really. I used to do resolutions the same way; I’d make them and then not think much more about them. I fear I may have some sort of accountability issue, or maybe it’s just a memory issue…

Regardless, I don’t do resolutions anymore at all. I don’t like feeling obligated to promises I make to myself that I know I should keep, but also know fully well more than likely I won’t. I used to resolve to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, get organized, you know, all the usual stuff.

Did I ever actually succeed at any of them for the long haul?

No. Not really.

Sure I made improvements, but I never got as far as I wanted to because I always set the bar too high. And this is probably why so many resolutions fail (I like to say the resolutions fail, not those who make them). We aim too high. Sometimes less is more. Often times smaller steps are better.

Still, every January I always find myself reading magazine articles, blog posts and essays about making resolutions (or whatever the writer chooses to call them) for improving one’s self, life, relationships, job or whatever it is that’s in need of improvement. A ‘favorite’ of mine this year went something along the lines of each day I will try to do something that scares me. Yikes! Are you kidding me? Why the heck would anyone want to do that?

Who needs to add fear onto the daily agenda?

Not me.

Do I believe in stretching oneself intellectually, physically, or however one chooses to grow? Of course I do. But do something every day that scares me? No way. I’ll settle for once in a while, thank you very much. Of course, if you like this kind of thing, more power to you.

There gets to be a resolution saturation point, even when just reading about others making them, don’t you agree?

Sooner or later each January, I find myself eventually muttering to myself, enough with the resolution crap!

Besides, the old you and your old ways aren’t that bad are they? You made it this far, right?

If you’re like me, you’ve ditched the resolution making. But for some reason, I do like the idea of choosing three (or however many you’d like) guide words. Maybe it’s because it’s more open ended. Or maybe it’s because I like words. Who knows?

Regardless, once again I am choosing three guide words for the New Year. This year I am going to write them down somewhere so I can see them every day and actually think about why I chose them. Yes, really. I’m going to do that.

My three guide words for 2015 are:

Trust – I want to trust that I can handle whatever comes my way this year and allow the year to unfold. It’s not like we control as much as we think we do anyway. I want to learn to trust my own body again. Is this even possible post cancer diagnosis? Maybe. Maybe not. I also want to build on the trust in all of my relationships (including with you, my dear readers) because without trust, you have nothing.

Focus – I intend to focus on things that matter most to me like finishing my memoir, writing posts for my blog and other venues, reading blogs I follow more regularly, walking my dogs, spending time with my family, carving out me time as well as writing time, reading actual books time, thinking time and doing nothing time. (Yes, doing nothing matters too). Maybe focus is just another word for prioritize, but I like the sound of focus better, this year anyway.

Balance – I’ve chosen this word before, but guess what? I don’t care. I am choosing it again because I want to. I need to.

Trust. Focus. Balance.

There they are, my three guide words for 2015.

What are yours?






Monday 12th of January 2015

Nancy, I love your three words. I haven't chosen any - officially that is. Balancing my life, focus and trust… those have all been mumbled these past few months under my breath. I hope for you and I that we remember them in the months ahead!

Happy New Year to you!


Monday 12th of January 2015

Mae, I hope we can too! Thanks for stopping by and Happy New Year to you, Mae.

karen sutherland

Sunday 11th of January 2015

dear Nancy,

welcome back! I'm glad you have felt rejuvenated with having a bit of a hiatus from blogging.

hmmmm, my 3 words...I remember taking a lot of time both thinking of them, then writing about them last year. now I couldn't recall them if you paid me. I was never a fan of resolutions - they always felt akin to all the stuff we were guilted into "giving up" for lent. this year I don't seem to have the mental energy to sort through the tangled emotions and thoughts that could possibly be distilled into 3 words. they would definitely have to be phrases, except for one - BREATHE! I might be able to squeeze in a 2 word affirmation - JUST BE!. and possibly, another 4 worded one that is a source of an excellent survival skill, but so often eludes me (those damned tangles!) I find myself smacking my forehead like in the V-8 juice commercial - LIVE IN THE NOW!

a year is a long time, and who can tell where, when, how, why our paths may get smoother, or full of pot holes, which way they will twist and wind, and what surprises of progress lead us to an oasis of lovely, cooling comfort, or upon regression, a trip to hell and back (if we are lucky). so it occurs to me that a surfeit of words pulled together that are meaningful and perhaps hold up for endurance isn't such a bad thing. the important thing is what works for each unique individual. and thank the heavens we don't have to etch our words in stone! but this time I am writing them down.

much love,

Karen oxo


Sunday 11th of January 2015

Karen, You are one wise woman. I love your insights on this and you're so right that it's what works for each person that matters. No surprise there! And yes, thank heavens we don't have to etch our words in stone, but writing them down on paper - that I can handle! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Karen, and hope 2015 is kind to you.


Saturday 10th of January 2015

Create. Relax. Explore. Those will be my 3 words. :) I don't do resolutions, but boy do I need to learn how to relax a bit! I am planning on traveling and exploring. I have several creative projects ahead of me, so I am hoping that is big for me this year.


Sunday 11th of January 2015

Mandi, Those are excellent choices. Thank you for sharing them. Looking forward to hearing more about those projects you have planned.

Lisa DeFerrari

Friday 9th of January 2015

Hi, Nancy. I haven't made new year's resolutions in a long time, but I normally take time around the end of the year for some reflecting on the past year and what I'd like to do in the year ahead. And I've actually been thinking about the "three words" exercise as well this year. I love the three guide words you've chosen. I'm not sure if I'll get around to writing a post about this but I'm gravitating toward these: create, together and "let go". Sometimes, when you've done all you can, it's time to let go and trust in the outcome--not always easy, but definitely something to aspire to!


Sunday 11th of January 2015

Lisa, Most of us do some reflecting with the end of each year and the start of the new one. I think the words you are gravitating toward are excellent choices. I hope you do write that post. Regardless, thank you for sharing here.


Friday 9th of January 2015

I read this last night but wanted to think about what my three words would be. I don't remember if I participated in this other years, but if I did I instantly forgot my three words after typing them.

So here they are this year, and I'm planning on writing them down and thinking about them. I actually thought about these carefully while running this morning. Happiness. Challenge. Priorities. They probably don't need much explaining.


Sunday 11th of January 2015

Lindsay, In the past I have pretty much forgotten about my three words, too, but I am going to try to at least think about them from time to time this year. We'll see how that goes! I like the ones you selected. Thank you for putting a lot of thought into your choices and for sharing them here.

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