It's now a month into the new year. The perfect time for a check-in ...
How are those New Year’s resolutions holding up?
If your answer is much like the rest of the world’s (somewhere in the “not so good” realm), that’s okay! Resolutions are HARD to keep. It’s not really anyone’s fault, just the way we as humans are wired. Habits are hard to sustain.
It’s so easy to fall back into the same old patterns, it’s no wonder our goals never stick. Or, we set too broad of goals, and then the minute we start to waver, things slip away completely. It gives us an attitude of why bother if we aren't seeing progress anyway? Continuing to live with our problems surely sounds easier than failing after a lot of hard work put in trying to change.
But change is possible. Growth is possible.
Did you see our article on developing systems this new year, instead of simply setting goals? That’s where the real change happens. And, the first step is remembering the “why” behind the goal.
This leads us to another trick for helping you reach your goals in the year ahead: choosing a “Word of the Year”. A single word that encapsulates all that you want to focus on, improve upon, or accomplish in the coming months.
Let us explain:
Why does a “word of the year” work better?
The magic is in the simplicity. Resolutions can go out the window fast, right? Because they are way too daunting! It’s like they are set in stone for everyone to see—and if you don’t achieve these goals, you’re a failure. All that does is put pressure on you. And, we’re going to bet you already have enough to-do lists in your life…
But, a single word is just abstract enough of a concept to feel like achieving it is within reach, but far away enough that we aren’t worried about the consequences of not achieving it. The end result? Motivation. We are reminded of the possibilities, how our lives could be changed for the better. This positive motivation is so much easier for our minds to get on board with.
When you are making decisions and completing tasks throughout your day, all you have to do is consider this word and see if those decisions match what you want for your life right now.
Because while it’s just a word, it represents so much more than that.
It reminds you of what’s really important and why you want more of this word in your life. It gives purpose to every goal you set and every system you develop to get there. A word of the year anchors you. You can keep coming back to it when you are unsure of yourself or the path you are on. You’re still checking in on your goals, but without the pressure and with more positivity.
And, it helps you realize that it’s never too late to make a change. The word you choose will be a goal in your life until you achieve it. It’s not going anywhere or judging you for not achieving it yet. It’s waiting patiently for you, always.
How to choose the right “word of the year”
Is a word of focus jumping right out at you? Fantastic! If not, that’s totally okay. Sometimes the growth we need can be hard to put into words.
Self-reflection is always a good thing to practice. It gets you on the right path, not just the easiest one to go down at the time.
Start by reflecting on both your life and your art career. Ask yourself, what do you want to improve on most this year? What have you struggled with during the previous year, and how can you make a positive out of it? What do you want more of (or maybe even less of) in your life?
For example, have you been struggling with imposter syndrome as you build your art business? “Confidence” could be the perfect word to focus on this year. Feeling stuck or ready for a new beginning? Focusing on the word “bloom” when making decisions in and out of the studio might give you the courage to try new things. Are you just now emerging as an artist and barely know where to start? The word “learn” can help remind you that nobody knows everything all the time, but there is wisdom in being a lifelong student.
The possibilities are endless because there’s always something we could do to improve on in our lives.
A feeling of loneliness and isolation in the studio might make you want to focus on “community. ” Your struggle with rejection after rejection could be countered with an emphasis on “resilience.” Stress could be remedied with “balance.” Fear could be replaced with “fearless.” Even a hope to appear more professional or get your art business in order has a word waiting for you. (“Organization” is a big one for artists!)
When choosing your word of the year, you should always strive for something positive. “Exercise” probably won’t do the trick. But, a word like “health” has a much bigger meaning, something you can focus on mind, body, and spirit to really improve your life.
Motivation all comes back to the “why” you are doing what you do—not the surface level idea of “what” can you achieve. That’s what will bring you true fulfillment.
Have you chosen the right word?
Here’s the next step: write it down. Put a sticky note up on your bathroom mirror, make it the background on your phone, create a small piece to hang in your studio, craft a vision board—whatever you do, keep it within view. This will help you remember all year long to make decisions for yourself that align with this word and the life you want to be living.
People always think about change in such harsh terms. Like if you want something badly enough, it will happen overnight… Hooray, it's a miracle!
But that’s rarely, if ever, the case. You need to really look at yourself and understand the things you have power and control over. Change starts with small, tiny decisions that over time become habits and eventually compound to make a change.
All you have to do is get started.