By Frieda Levycky of Braving Boundaries and Alicia Koch of The Legal Belletrist

So, how are you holding up at the end of 2021? If you’re anything like us, the end of year can’t come soon enough. After two years of uncertainty – of changed plans, obscure regulations and waves of highs and lows (and not just in the pandemic sense) – we are well and truly in need of a proper break. A time to reflect, relax and re-connect with ourselves and our loved ones.

In part 1 of this Article, we spoke about taking a kinder (rather than resolute) approach to making New Year’s Resolutions in 2022. Instead of having a long list of things to accomplish, we encouraged you to identify one word that could be your guiding light for the year.

Did you have a chance to consider the word that encapsulates the changes you want to make in 2022? Ali and I managed to choose ours and here are our reasons why.

New Year’s Resolution: RE-CONNECT (Frieda’s word)

For me, 2022 is going to be all about re-connection. As a natural extrovert – someone who is always connecting, socialising, involving and organising – I never imagined being someone who would struggle with connection. However, having easily adapted to working from home and the inevitable reduced in-person interaction in 2020/21, I’ve stopped flexing my “connection muscle”. And, frankly, the thought of group activities, live trainings, networking events and easily reaching out to people one-on-one to connect, has started to cause some feelings of overwhelm and anxiety. The irony is that I coach around this and know everything that I need to do to move through these feelings and fears. The reality is though that, at times, we all fall off track – even coaches – it’s just part of being human.

So, rather than beating myself up for not making more of an effort to connect in 2021, 2022 is going to be a kinder reintegration into connection again: connection with my family in the UK and Ireland, connection with my existing clients and potential clients, connection with my followers, connection with my industry and connection with myself. That muscle will get re-built, I just need to take the necessary steps to bring about that change. 

New Year’s Resolution: HARMONY (Alicia’s word)

The word harmony, to me at least, evokes feelings of balance and flow within all the different areas and facets of our lives, and is something I have personally lacked the last couple of years (being an ex-lawyer it is not entirely hard to understand why). Whether it has been changes in my career, challenges with health or disconnection with family (or friends), I have felt my life lacking harmony and balance. I have, often times, felt lost at sea without a life jacket flailing around the waves in panic. When one part of my life has improved, another has suffered. And because of that, I have not felt completely present nor completely at ease. 

The beginning of COVID (and start of lockdown) in 2020 marked an enormous change in my life – both professionally and most certainly personally. And whilst lockdown regretfully had negative ripple effects globally, I found myself slowly coming into my own. I had finally found what I loved to do – write – and have successfully made a career out of it. But my health suffered. When my health improved, I found that my personal relationships were negatively affected. It has (very much) been a give and take situation with the important things unfortunately not weighing equally. 

Whilst I don’t (yet) have all the answers to how I am practically going to find harmony and balance in my life, I know that it will be the small steps I take every day (keeping my word of the year in mind), that will ultimately improve my life. I will need to make focused, conscious decisions and take deliberate actions, knowing (now) that I need to handle myself with care and kindness. Something we do for others but not always for ourselves. 

I am so looking forward to 2022 which I know will be more balanced and more harmonious not only because I will it so, but because I will take the necessary actions to ensure the outcome I have envisaged for myself. Slowly and gently… 

Helping you to keep your New Year’s Resolution on track

As we said in the previous article, choosing your word is the first step. But how do you give yourself the best chance at implementing that word throughout 2022 and achieving the changes you desire?

Here are a few ideas:

Positive Self -Reflection

Once you have chosen your word for the year, think about the areas in your life you would like to improve. This will help you to reflect not only on your past but your present and future as well.  What has been working in your favour and what would you like to change? In order to set an achievable goal, you need to have a better sense of where you have been, as well as the direction you are moving towards. It’s also important to acknowledge your most recent accomplishments. When immersed in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, we often forget to reflect on our achievements. Perhaps you have already made positive changes throughout the year without giving these accomplishments much thought. Do that now and ensure you acknowledge what you have achieved.

Develop critical self-awareness 

Living without self-awareness is like driving your car at night without brakes. Technically, you can still drive, but you will eventually lose control, be unable to stop and have a collision. With self-awareness, you shed light on your destructive, reflexive habits. And by doing so, you are able to eliminate self-sabotaging behaviour. So be aware of them. If you’re interested in finding out more about your motivations, blind spots and defence mechanisms, take a look at the Enneagram.

Make your goal possible

Make the actions around your word something you will enjoy. For example, choosing “Health” as your word for the year will involve many different actions like becoming more active and eating healthier. But don’t undertake exercises that will make you feel miserable. Don’t put a bowl of fruit on your kitchen counter filled with fruit you don’t like or commit to running a marathon if you hate running. Be conscious about the actions you take to honour your word for the year in a way that ultimately makes you happy. 

Celebrate the small stuff

The trick is not to become overwhelmed before you get going. Decide the type of person you want to be – A healthy person? A strong person? A writer? A musician? Then prove it to yourself with small wins over time. Start small and begin with acknowledging all of your small successes on a daily basis. 

Start by taking a look at habits that may be holding you back. Find one that is simple and easy to achieve. For example drinking a glass of water every time you are at your kitchen sink. It may not be often but every time you are there you have one glass of water. This will contribute to your overall wellness and health/fitness. It is also not impossible to do. Find small, simple challenges that you can easily make happen and do them. It will feel so good as well.

Get creative about it

How can you motivate yourself to stay on track? It is often the visual things that keep us optimistic. So why not get creative with it? Why not create a piece of art (in whatever medium feels good to you) to hang in your home or your office that visually captures your word of the year. Have a little fun with it and focus your energy on that word entirely as you get creative. 

Define what your word means to you

One simple word can capture limitless inspiration and many meaningful feelings. Your own personal definition of what that word means to you will go far beyond what the dictionary has to say about it and will be more meaningful because it is from your own unique perspective. So think about this hard and write it down somewhere that you can refer to when you feel that you have lost your way. 

Use your word as a mantra 

Whether or not you create an affirmation, prayer, statement, or something else that works for you, use your single word as a mantra throughout each day. See it in your mind’s eye by creating a mental image that captures its meaning and repeat it to yourself every day. Believe in it and know that it is achievable. 

Cultivate optimism 

No one’s life is positive all the time. But the important thing here is to train yourself to focus on the positives and only briefly acknowledge the negatives. Don’t let insecurity prevent you from having a positive outlook. Realise it’s a choice.

Let go of the typical “resolution” mentality

The word of the year process is meant to be a gentle one. But the important thing here is not to confuse gentle with weak. A word for the year is a powerful practice. It is far more effective to focus on a word like “health” than to command yourself to get to the gym or to only eat X number of calories a day. As you inspire yourself towards overall good health, it is likely that you will find yourself achieving good health as a byproduct of simply having an overall healthier mindset. So, make sure that your word feels good to you, not pushy, demanding or unachievable.

Don’t sweat the bad days (small stuff)

Just because you have your word for the year and are taking baby steps to achieve your overall goal every day, good habits are extremely hard to develop. And they are really easy to break. Remember change is never easy – for anyone. 

Perfection is impossible. There will be days when you slip and fall, graze a knee or take a tumble. There will be times when you won’t be able to do what you planned to do. But know that it’s okay – accept it, own it, and then get back on the new habit horse.

What matters most here is your long term goals. While you might occasionally fail, see a setback as just a setback – not a reason to give up. 

Remember the Big Picture

Although change is difficult, what’s most important is developing the kind of habits that allow you to achieve that change. Your mindset is crucial in ensuring that your word of the year is honoured in a way that motivates you, encourages you and fulfills you.  

Don’t just wish and hope that all will be well. Take attainable steps that will ensure success. And keep your mind focused on the achievement of the overall bigger picture. A small misstep today should not mark the end of “word”. 

While there are, no doubt, still resolution-makers in our midst, we feel it is prudent practice (at least at this point in time) to be kind to ourselves. Whether you’re defining your New Year’s resolutions, choosing your one word to define the whole year, or are choosing to decline the tradition altogether, try your best to maintain positive outlooks and motivation. 

“Past and Present I know well, each is a friend and sometimes an enemy to me. But it is the quiet, beckoning Future, an absolute stranger, with whom I have fallen madly in love.” – Richelle E. Goodrich

So, embrace the beckoning future and fall madly in love with it – whether you make resolutions or choose a word of the year, make it your own. Be kind, be gentle, have grace and fall in love with the opportunities that lie ahead of you. 

From all of us at Braving Boundaries, we wish you a Happy, Healthy Festive Season and all the best for 2022. 

Frieda & Ali x

About the writer, Alicia Koch, Founder of The Legal Belletrist.

Alicia, an admitted attorney with over 10 years PQE, and now a legal writer and researcher, has established The Legal Belletrist to assist companies (in different sectors) to write well-researched articles that speak to each company’s core business, enabling growth and commercialism. 

Click here to visit The Legal Belletrist website.