You don’t have to make a resolution at the start of a new year. In fact, you might even find this idea more meaningful and impactful than a new year resolution. One word is all it takes. And if you’re wondering what’s in a word, it’s the power to change the way you live.

We’re just over a month into 2021 and you may have abandoned the resolution you committed to on January 1. You could analyze the myriad reasons for failure and feel bad about your ability to commit, or you could adopt a different habit for the new year – giving words power to change how you live –  even if you start it today.

Frankly, I was glad to see 2020 go. In fact, I stayed up until midnight on New Year’s Eve only to be sure last year was gone. Then I smudged the house to clear out the bad energy and make room for something more affirming and positive. 

And I have a confession: I didn’t make a new year’s resolution. In fact, I haven’t made one for several years. I’m not very good at them – not because I lack commitment, but because I often chose an end without a plan to reach it. So instead of resolutions, I choose a word that will define my year. And because 2020 was such a difficult year, I chose two words for 2021: resonance and reconciliation.

Why resonance?

I wondered the same thing when I heard myself say it to a friend. Then I realized that one of the things that defined the previous year was dissonance. In order to really put last year to rest, I must seek out resonance with the people I engage with. For me, that means I have to listen more carefully for the things I have in common with the people I encounter. It means I have to focus on similarities with people rather than difference. And it means I have to speak first using words that will be meaningful to the people who hear them. 

Resonance is harmony to the ear. It’s the reverberation of different tones that create a beautiful sound. It doesn’t necessarily mean my sound has to be like yours, but it does mean I have to make a conscious effort to hear your sound so I can be in harmony with you. It doesn’t mean we won’t clash at times, but it does mean the clash gives way to harmony again as we move forward together. But resonance, as a word, will not change lives.

But resonance, alone, won’t change anything

I quickly realized that it’s pointless to have resonance without reconciliation, which is an intent to restore. So I set about wrestling with the idea that my resonance must be rooted in a desire to restore what has been broken – whether I broke it or not. And that intent is what will heal our nation and our world.

I’m still not certain how I go about mending what I didn’t break, but I know that I’ve held onto attitudes and beliefs that contributed to the breaking. And I’m sure I’ve used words that made the brokenness more profound. And that’s where the real work of reconciliation begins. So I speak with healing as my underlying attitude to be part of what makes the world whole again.

What’s your word?

So, I leave you with a challenge: find a word or a phrase that you’ll use to define your year. And as you get comfortable with the words you chose, tell people you know about your choice.

Once you start sharing your word(s) with others, you refine their meaning to you. The words live in your body – they permeate your attitudes and behaviors in subtle and overt ways. So, again I ask what’s in a word? The power to change the way you live.

Bradley K. Ward, PCC, TICC is a leadership and personal transformation coach at Brad Ward Coaching in Palm Springs, CA. Contact Brad to find out how coaching can help you reach for the impossible!