What Are Your Three Words For New Year?

Balance. Explore. Enjoy.

At the end of 2012, instead of making New Years resolutions, I picked just three words that I would try to abide by throughout the year. Balance – because my life had been full of extreme ups and downs the previous year and I wanted to even my emotions out. Explore – in terms of travel, business and my own personal abilities. And finally, enjoy – because isn’t that what life’s all about anyway? And something I think we should always remind ourselves to do.

A friend had suggested the activity to me after she’d read it in on a blog. It was an easy way of simplifying your goals. Instead of making a complicated list of resolutions and ‘to-do’ lists (something I’m extremely guilty of!) – picking just three words was a positive way to keep you focused on what you wanted to achieve in the coming year. After all, (especially when you are traveling) life can change in a heartbeat, so it can be difficult to make any firm plans.

At times during the year whenever life seemed confusing or I felt I was steering off into a wrong direction – I went back to my three words – was I trying to achieve a good balance in my life, was I exploring and most of all was I having fun doing it? Most of the time, the answer was yes and so I carried on…

But why do people pick New Year’s resolutions and make goals anyway? What’s with the constant self-improvement targets? Can’t we just be happy the way we are?  I will stop smoking. I will call my Mum more. I will learn to dive. I will volunteer. I will appreciate my life more.

New Year is a symbol of new hope. A fresh start. A chance to wipe the slate clean and challenge yourself to become the person you want to be. We’ve all heard the saying ‘tomorrow is the first day of the rest of your life’, and on 1st January this phrase is given even more meaning and more power.

Setting a New Years’ resolution is believed to go as far back as Babylonian times. Some people think that Julius Ceaser started the tradition on 1st January as a way to honour the Roman God, Janus. The Mythical God had two faces, which allowed him to look back on the previous year and forward into the New Year.

So is this tradition popular in Buddhist cultures such as Thailand and other parts of South East Asia? Buddhism focuses on the here and now and ‘mindfulness’ – rather than looking back to the past or forward to the future, we should try to focus on the present moment. The Buddhist religion sees nothing wrong in setting goals for the future that come from focused and mindful intentions. But by becoming more ‘mindful’ in each moment, we can learn to do the right thing every day.

And in South East Asia, if you lose motivation and break a New Year’s Resolution in January – there’s always Chinese New Year in February and Buddhist New Year in April to start all over again.

So what about you? Will you make a New Year’s resolution? Will you pick three words to guide you? Or will you wake up each day and live each moment to the fullest in the best way that you can?

Balance. Explore. Enjoy. My three words for 2014.

By Nikki Scott

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