One-word Resolutions


Image: Lauren Lee

To close out 2017, I gathered with friends to celebrate the season. As the group discussed family traditions, my friend P told us about her own. Each year, her family members share their resolution for the new year. The catch? It must be summed up in one word. Some members of our party balked at such a daunting task. How do you sum up everything you want to do in a year with just one word? And which word should you choose?

Normally, I’d labor over such a decision. I’m the type of person who likes to carefully consider her options, take her time, and review all the information. Knee-jerk judgments are not my style. And yet when P suggested that our friends try making on-the-spot, one-word resolutions, I didn’t hesitate. The minute she suggested the idea, I knew my resolution.

In 2018, my mantra is RELEASE. For me, release has many meanings. It means letting go of expectations for myself and others, the control I want to exert on external events, the habits and circumstances that no longer serve me, and the fear of what could happen in the future. It means unlocking my voice and my creativity and using both to advocate for myself and others. It means being open to possibility and change. And finally, it means stretching more so that I don’t physically harbor anxiety and tension in my body.

I love the simplicity of a one-word resolution because it’s easy to overcomplicate things and overburden yourself on January 1. One of the biggest takeaways from my Do the Damn Things project was that chasing three big goals at once was too much. Each one required substantial and consistent effort, so loading my plate with more work that I could handle meant that I couldn’t give any of the goals my all.

But RELEASE is different: it’s a reminder, a guidepost, a means of making decisions on a daily basis. It’s not that I don’t have more specific goals that I want to accomplish this year. Rather, RELEASE guides my approach and encourages me to rest and reflect on my path. It’s neither productive nor enjoyable to chase down a goal that no longer holds meaning.

We’re only five days into the new year, but I’m optimistic about keeping this resolution. I put a Post-It note on my computer so I check in visually on a regular basis and refocus. When I find myself getting stressed, I repeat it to myself and take a breath. And since I live in NYC, there approximately 1 billion daily opportunities to put my resolution into practice.


What’s your one-word resolution?

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