Since I read that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually keep them, I no longer make resolutions.
I do, however, take time at the start of each new year to see how I can improve not just my life, but the lives of everyone who interacts with me, from my husband to the lady who bags my groceries.
In a life that can seem so challenging, I consider it an unexpected gift to be able to reinvent myself every couple of years.
In 2017 I want to radiate so much kindness that cartoon birds land on my shoulders.
I want my time with with family and friends to be so sweet that I get a cavity.
I want 2017 to be more satisfying than a warm brownie sundae with homemade whipped cream and candied walnuts.
I want these things, not just for myself, but for everyone in my NextGen tribe. Milsos, if you haven’t heard:
2017 is the Year of You!
With the help of some very smart military spouses, here are my 5 tips for living your kindest, sweetest, most satisfying year yet.
Define Your Year
This is like one of those “What’s the thing that comes to mind?” word association games. When you think about 2017, what word, phrase or image comes to mind?
For me, it’s a relaxing image of a tropical beach. Not just because the beach is my ideal vacation spot, but because that image is how I want life to be in 2017: peaceful.
When things go sideways, I take a beat, and summon that image. How would I react if I were on that beach, listening to the waves lap up to the shore?
I probably wouldn’t yell at the movers for breaking my brand-new wedding china, that’s for sure.
That serene beach image is how I am defining my year.
How will you define yours?
Is it a phrase or a word?
Define your year, and then really commit to living that in your daily life.
Write Your Experiences and Memories List
If you just rolled your eyes and thought, “Yeah right, like I have time for one more list,” I sympathize. But hear me out. This is not a laundry list of all the errands, chores and appointments you have for the upcoming year.
Take a moment and write down all of the places you want to visit, experiences you want to have and memories you want to make in the coming year. Place this list somewhere you can see it every day and try to do as many of them as you can with people you love.
When you accomplish one of the things on your list, you’ll feel motivated, inspired and refreshed.
Your list doesn’t have to be extravagant. One of the experiences on my list was talking more to my college bestie. We don’t have to make a cross-country trip to see one another, that’s virtually impossible, because you know – life. But we can make it a goal to Facetime monthly. I come away from those conversations feeling happier every time, and I have the memories to look back on when I need a little boost.
Radiate Love Daily
This has been a divisive, tumultuous year for our country. That’s why, in 2017, it’s more important than ever to show love whenever you can. It’s easier to do than you think. I have a friend who has been such an example of this to me this past year, that I am trying to be more like her in everyday life.
For example, when she goes through a checkout line, she asks how the cashier’s day is going and sincerely thanks them for their work. She compliments strangers on the street. She’s always ready with a kind word.
We need more of that in 2017. We don’t have to agree with everyone all of the time but we can agree to just be nicer and radiate love to those around us.
You Own Your Challenge
The Year of You is all about setting and achieving personal milestones. It could be finding a career that works for you or getting back in shape. Often, our challenges are given to us without our permission, like making it through a long deployment.
Whatever your challenge in 2017, milsos, I want you to own it. Taking ownership puts you in control and that’s totally empowering. Set small milestones for motivation and reward yourself when you achieve those goals.
There’s nothing sweeter or more satisfying than the feeling of success and you’ll find that you’ve developed skills you never knew you had.
Stop Saying ‘I’m Sorry’
Far too often, I find myself saying I’m sorry for things that are completely beyond my control. I’m sorry the mail didn’t come on time. I’m sorry the restaurant I picked is out of your favorite item.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.
Well not anymore.
This year, don’t say you’re sorry (unless you said something really uncalled for, in which case apologize immediately). Instead, turn whatever situation you’re in into a positive one with just a few words. Instead of saying, “I’m sorry the coffee’s not ready yet,” to your boss, trying saying something like, “The coffee is still brewing, but I’ll bring you a fresh cup in just a moment.”
When you stop saying “I’m sorry” you’ll realize how many ridiculous things for which you were taking responsibility for with those 2 silly little words. You’ll also start to notice a positive effect when you remove them from your vocabulary altogether, saving them only for situations in which they are truly warranted.
There are a lot of ways to live a more satisfying life, but none of them are a magic bullet. You, dear milso, are the only one who can decide to have a kinder, sweeter, more satisfying year.
But you don’t have to do it alone. This may be the Year of You, but NextGen will be right with you all year long.