Posted by: mew | December 8, 2009

the anti-resolution resolution

“A good intention clothes itself with sudden power.”

— Ralph Waldo Emerson


Who wants to live like an automaton?

I think I’ve mentioned before that I don’t do New Year’s resolutions.  I’ve also mentioned that I’m a recovering perfectionist.  The two are related.

See, if I made a New Year’s resolution like “quit smoking,” and then didn’t keep it, or, more likely, didn’t keep it “perfectly” or on a schedule, or to the impossibly ideal standards of my perfectionistic vision, then that would be seen by my internal critic as Failure, the kind with a capital F, the kind that goes down as a black mark in your Book.  (Some of you may not know what I’m talking about when I mention the Book, but those of us with record-keeping egos will recognize and cringe accordingly.  I’m told some egos choose to keep a record of others’ wrongs; my ego was almost exclusively concerned with my own.  Neither is better — just the same sickness in a different form.)

When I began to wake up to this pattern, I backed way off from goal setting.  In fact, eventually I went the other way, where the idea of a goal was anathema, a five-year plan sounded like the devil in disguise, and cynicism about peppy people “reaching for the brass ring” ruled the day.  This attitude was, of course, nothing more than resistance, which is another ego party trick that can keep you stuck and “safe.”

Still, even after the idea of goals lost its hellish aura, I wasn’t about to commit to New Year’s resolutions.  It would be foolish to go back to something that’s discouraged and effectively blocked me before, especially when I’ve achieved major goals all year through without their help.  I quit smoking this year, for instance.

Plus, there’s something disturbing about millions and millions of us desperately recommitting year after year to change the same old things, and then giving it up by the 20th of January and going back to our old defeated selves.  I just knew I didn’t want to participate in any of that.

Imagine my surprise, then, when I found a kind of resolution that attracted me, that even enticed me.  Christine Kane has come up with the concept of setting your word for the New Year.  The almost instinctual “yes” I felt as I read her wonderful post about it probably comes from the fact that this approach to change is holistic and starts at the level of Being, where all real change begins.

Heck, where all real anything is born and lives and has its Being.  (Christine didn’t have to convince me of that part.)

If you’re at all curious, I’d encourage you to read her post because I haven’t even attempted to explain the idea properly here.  She did such a good job of it already, which is only right as it’s her idea.

After reading Christine’s post, and reading some guest posts by others who set their word for 2009 and are now reporting on their results, and after considering the idea from many different angles, I’ve decided I’m going to choose a word for 2010.

Now the problem is going to be:  which word?  Christine’s impressive list is a good starting point, but of course, the field is wide open.  You could go anywhere with this concept.   (I’m so silly and playful sometimes.  When I first considered the idea, I thought, oh, if only I had a lifetime to squander, I’d choose something crazy, like balloon, or parakeet, or sixKooky would be more accurate.)

Setting aside those choices and the obvious kooky, however, I’ve narrowed my list down to five, and I’ll be letting you know my choice soon.  I’m actually rather excited about this anti-resolution resolution, and a bit nervous, too.

Will you be setting a traditional resolution, a word, an intention, or something else entirely for 2010?  Or will you be flying by the seat of your pants?  (Pants-seat flying is always a worthy option, in my opinion.)

P.S.  I know I owe you a post with a freewrite in it, not to mention a new prompt tomorrow.  But hey, I just got married, and in the spirit of denying my Perfectionist a little more ground, I’m giving myself a bit more lattitude this week.  Meanwhile, if you’ve done the exercise, feel free to post a link in the comments.  I can’t wait to read them.

(Photograph courtesy of stockvault.)



  1. yessss. a post. i’ve been checking back since the post you announced your marriage and a little part of me cried when i saw there was no update 🙂

    so, i sooo love the idea of words. i was going to pick a word from her list, but decided to use my style statement instead….should be a pretty interesting year!

    and i’m totally with you on the new year resolution thing. i was just thinking about that last week. i’m glad you wrote a post about it–now i don’t have to 🙂

    • Aw, thanks, Alisha, for checking back. I have been keeping up my daily postings on the other blog, but even there I was a bit babbly and unfocused 🙂

      I’ll have to double-check your blog to reread the style statement. I remember the post where you chose one, and I remember liking it!

  2. I love the idea of claiming your word. What an interesting concept.

    And congratulations on your marriage! I’m sorry I’m late to wish you all the best and much happiness.

    • Thanks for the congratulations 🙂 You’re so kind, Lisa!

  3. oooh, i like it. very much. thank you for passing on the inspiration- i look forward to seeing or reading your list. in the meantime, i got to start on mine!

    • I know! It’s so hard to choose just one 🙂 Good luck!

  4. Cheers! I’m so with you on this concept. I don’t know who I originally patterned my choosing a word for 2009 from (I was totally new to the blog world & didn’t ‘get’ the concept of attribution/source yet) but my word is/was ‘Beauty’. I liked the idea of ‘carrying’ it around with me like a tattoo on the palm of my hand all year and definitely benefitted from seeking, creating, appreciating, enhancing it in my life. I saw SOMEWHERE else lately (someone wishcasting w/Jamie Ridler , ) someone who attributed Christine Kane with the concept and checked it out too. I have chosen my 2010 word already (unless something drastic happens to change my mind) and will also be using THE word as a platform for MY version of Jude Hill’s ‘Spirit Cloth’, ,and my quilt journal for 2010. Watch for postings on my blog if MY own recovering perfectionist doesn’t get in the way.

    • So cool, Sheila! I will definitely be checking out your quilt journal and posts 🙂

  5. You just got married????!!!!! CONGRATULATIONS!!! I’ve obviously got some catching up to do ~ 🙂

    I chose ‘JOY’ as my word for last year after reading about choosing a word on Christine Kane’s blog. I loved the idea and I do think I’ve had a rather joyful year. I haven’t picked my word yet for 2010 but I have a couple in mind. In my later years, I am definitely more about living life joyfully, moment by moment, rather than goal-setting. I’m fine with setting an intention but, even then, I don’t pre-plan the course. I find that, working this way, doesn’t put me under stress. I’ll look forward to reading what your word for 2010 will be ~ 🙂

    • I love your word choice, Serena 🙂 That’s exactly what I want with my word, a no-stress, unplanned way to set my intention for 2010… I’m getting close to a choice now.

      And thanks again for the congratulations. It means so much!

  6. Oh Congratulations to you and your love.
    Wishing you wedded bliss kiss kiss.

    Perfectionists set themselves up for failure.I know that from experience too. I do choose a word each new year! For 2009 my word was “balance.”
    It was a good one for me.

    • Oh, I like your word, gemma. And thanks so much for the good wishes 🙂

  7. […] I’m sure most of us are at this time of year–when I read Meredith’s post, The Anti-Resolution Resolution. It was like I was reading my own thoughts, but in someone else’s (much more coherent) words. […]

  8. Hmm… you do realize how much of an inspiration you are to me, don’t you? : ) xo

    • Oh, christina, you are sweet. It must be a circular thing; I always thought you were the one inspiring me!

  9. After reading Christine Kane’s post I’m intrigued about its effectiveness. However, it is my belief in life that I should listen to the wisdom of others. And so, I will give it a shot and hope it will do good for me. 🙂

    • Well, I hope it does good for you, Walter. Only do it if you feel it’s a match for you, though. Just doing something because someone else said, nah, that’s a path to misery 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by!

  10. Good on ya, for kicking the smoking habit. I too abstain from the New Year’s Resolutions silliness, but I do gather with friends for a big Winter Solstice bonfire/party, and we write out a problem from the past year on a slip of paper and cast it into the fire as a sacrament for leaving the problem behind us. In daily meditation, I try to focus on appreciating good things & good people in my life, and dedicating some energy to problems in the world I can help change.

    • Thanks. It was a journey, for sure. (Still is, I suppose.)

      That Winter Solstice bonfire/party sounds so wonderful, and I love the ritual you and your friends have created. I agree with you 100% on focusing on things you can change and practicing gratitude. That’s why F. and I started our locavore adventure and grew our own organic garden this summer, rather than rail ineffectually against the corporatized food system and its inequities and dangers. 🙂

  11. this looks intreguing–i look forward to reading about your word and will read Christine’s post right now to get inspired – last year our family did a vision board and each of us put our vision in there – i wrote adventure as big as i could and we ended up going to malaysia and borneo so that seemed to work!!!

    • That sounds awesome, jane! Adventure is a good choice. Hmm….

  12. Hi M.E., I enjoyed what I found here. Good luck with your word and your marriage. May you find whatever moves you.


  13. Meredith, what a delight to find your site. (Followed through from your comment at mine.) I am soooo with you about goals and resolutions, but naming our journeys is vital. I am in the habit of taking time at the end of each year to name my journey–for the past year, that is. I also focus on intention for what I would like to lean into for the next year. For I do believe that what we focus on expands. Right now, I am leaning into expanded creativity for 2010. I’ve got a new book simmering in me and I want to turn up the heat! Here’s to a stellar 2010 for you, for all of us!

    • Naming my journey for the past year…. hmmm, I think I like that idea, probably because the name of mine just jumped out at me as soon as I paused for a moment to think about it. Crystal clear. What a beautiful tradition!

      Hope you bring that book to a roiling boil in 2010!

  14. Great focus!

    • It is good. I can’t claim credit for it, unfortunately.

      Thanks for stopping by!

  15. Congratulations on your wedding, Meredith!

    I’ve been doing this for a couple of years now. I call it choosing a “power word”. The idea is to pick a word to give you focus and set your intentions for the year. I love the way it works!

    It’s so much more organic and flowing than resolutions, for example, when you feel that one word has given you enough, you can move on to another.

    Can’t wait to hear which word you’ll pick for 2010!

    • Thank you, Kate! I like the idea that it’s not fixed, and that I can just let it unfold organically over the year. It’s wonderful that you came up with this on your own. 🙂

      • Yes it is pretty amazing, but I didn’t come up with it on my own. 🙂

        This is the story. I was reading about affirmations. I found a few articles mentioning that affirmations aren’t a good way to reach our subconscious mind because part of our mind knows that we’re lying which can have the reverse effect, and suggested using power words instead. For example, the popular affirmations “I am rich” or “I am slim” can be substituted by the power words “abundance” or “release”.

        The idea was that we already feel that we ARE what we want, which helps BE the way we need to be too GET what we want.

        I thought it sounded so interesting that I’d give it a go and it’s been a really magic experience! The power words I’ve picked have sort of had a life of their own, and worked in unexpected ways, and I really do think they speak to the subconscious in an effective way!

        For example, last autumn I was using abundance as my power word. One week I changed all the bulbs to ecobulbs, and switched my electricity provider to one that is more ecological and gives me a cheaper rate and donates some of their profits to charities. Then I defrosted the freezer and used up leftovers and almost empty bags of frozen peas and corn and then it dawned on me why as I was standing by the cooker stirring! I laughed out loud! And yeah, I’m not this virtuous all of the time! But the whole process with “abundance” lead to me thinking “I’ve got everything I need”.

      • Oh, that’s wonderful! I love the illustration of the way abundance translated itself to your subconscious. You suddenly realized you were rich in leftovers 🙂

        I had always heard affirmations work by creating cognitive dissonance, if used often enough, i.e. the mind cannot believe two disparate things and will go about trying to conform to one or the other. For instance, if I’ve always believed I am fat, telling myself “I am thin” for long enough will cause me to eventually change my behavior to match the new way of thinking.

        This way sounds more gentle. I’ve chosen my word, I think. I’ll blog about it, hopefully by the weekend 🙂

  16. Just discovered your lovely blog after you were kind enough to comment on one of my posts. Congratulations to you on your wedding! I plan to visit your blog often and check out all the good stuff! I’m practicing a similar tactic for dealing with my weight–I’m telling myself something like: “I’m easily losing fat and getting fit…”

    • That affirmation sounds like an excellent choice 🙂 Good luck on your journey. Losing weight is something I’m all too familiar with. It’s tough, and I say take along any moves you’ve got!

      I enjoyed my visit to your blog, by the way, and am looking forward to getting to know it more over time.

  17. […] remember from a couple of posts back that I’d decided to choose a word of the year, as sort of a gentler, deeper version of the […]

  18. […] I’m sure most of us are at this time of year–when I read Meredith’s post, The Anti-Resolution Resolution. It was like I was reading my own thoughts, but in someone else’s (much more coherent) words. […]

  19. […] a while, I decided to choose a word of the year.  (You can read about why in a post called “the anti-resolution resolution” on my other blog.)  My word for 2010 is, appropriately enough, focus, a word that seemed […]

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