How’s your new year resolution going?


For the first time since I can remember, I didn’t have a new year resolution this year. You know the drill; friends and family ask: “So what’s your new year resolution?

My answer, for the first time ever was: “I don’t have one,” to which there were the obligatory: “What do mean? You must have something you want to do this year. You must have something you want to change?”

No, on reflection, I was quite happy with my life, my work, my fitness, my diet, my work-life balance.

I didn’t feel I needed to dream up some meaningless, populist list of things that would sit guiltily on my shoulder and, no doubt, soon be forgotten.

But then, a few days after new year, we were having dinner at home with family, and six young adults in their early twenties including our two kids. Lauren, my daughter’s friend, who had come up from Canberra, posed the question again: “What are your new year resolutions?” There was collective groan around the table and a: “Let’s not go there again,” to which she said: “Ok so what is the one word that represents what you want to be or do this year?

Suddenly my lack of desire for new year resolution went out of the window. This was different, this was interesting and challenging. After all, how do you find one word to represent you in 2020?

Of course, they wanted to start with me, but I skipped. This was something that required thought.

And so, we went around the table. You had to give your word and then explain why you chose that word and what it meant to you in the year ahead. I have to say this was a far more exciting way of approaching a semblance of a new year resolution. The resulting depth of conversation and ideas was testimony to this.

Why new year resolutions fail

Before I tell you my word, I want to share with you the findings of a U.S. News and World Report, which found 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. The reasons are fourfold:

  1. Your goals aren’t clear and therefore they are difficult to measure
  2. Change daunts you and so when you feel overwhelmed by it all, you sabotage your resolutions
  3. You become impatient at not attaining what you said you would do and so you find ways to discourage yourself from continuing
  4. You’re not ready to change. Your actions never were going to match those words and so you find excuses to stick with what you have always done.

What was my one word?

Back to the dinner party at the Badings household and the one word I chose.  Before I let on what my word is, I need to explain why I found this exercise so powerful; it provided a singular purpose. Purpose is a powerful thing in our personal lives and for a business. It’s like a compass – it gives us a clear view of our true north, our reason for being.

And I’ve found myself using it almost every day to help guide decisions personally and in business.

As I write this we have ticked over into February and I have used my word more in one month than I ever reflected on any new year resolution over a full year.


That’s it. That’s my word. But it’s what sits behind it that counts. Here’s how I have been using it:

  • As a guide for decisions – even small decisions at work and at home.
  • A filter for longer-term plans. Are you doing enough or are you taking the easier path, the path of least resistance?
  • A guide for some tough discussions whether they be personal or with a client.
  • Reflection – on friendships, family and a variety of other areas of my life to either reorientate or restart things from a more courageous perspective.
  • The courage not to procrastinate. Why do you need courage not to procrastinate? Because for those of us who do, and I do from time to time, it’s a lot easier to find other things to do and that’s when I need the courage to admit to myself I am doing it and that I need the courage to stop what is a negative pattern of behaviour and alter the course.

I’m sure, during the year, and as I continue to reflect on the many facets of courage, I’ll find other ways to challenge myself and to keep myself energised and confronting things with courage.

All that remains is to thank Lauren for raising one of the most interesting discussions on a new year resolution I have had for decades.

What’s your one word that will frame your 2020?


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