For many of us, 2017 was a doozy, but we here at Brit + Co are ready to hit refresh in 2018! Follow our Hit Refresh series through January for new ideas, hacks, and skills that will help you achieve (and maintain!) those New Year’s resolutions.

Research tells us that only nine percent of people who make New Years’ Resolutions feel that they are successful at reaching their goals. As anyone who’s been to the gym on January 1 can tell you, we tend to start out strong and committed to self-improvement, but life tends to get in the way of following through beyond the middle of February. Maybe this year you should ditch the traditional task-oriented resolution route and opt for a new tradition instead. Enter: the power word.

Thinking carefully about a word or phrase that we want to encapsulate our upcoming year has some demonstrable benefits. For one, it’s impossible to fail. “Resolutions feel like an enormous burden and are a guilty reminder when we occasionally fall off the wagon. When they are grand gestures, they are likely to be a challenge to keep. On the other hand, a single word evokes a state of mind. It is the equivalent of a mantra with the intention of focusing on key themes that motivate us,” says Roy Cohen, a career coach and author of The Wall Street Professional’s Survival Guide.

Choosing a power word enables us to set multiple goals together under one heading. For example, if your goals are to embrace eating clean, run a half-marathon, and dedicate a space in your apartment to yoga practice, you might not feel successful unless you’re able to do all three. But if you choose a power word like “HEALTH,” you can stick with the idea of nourishing your body, spirit, and soul, even when you don’t have time to run or your yoga den looks like a neglected pile of blankets. The flexibility of a power word gives you the option to change up what healthy living looks like for you according to what else is going on in your life, while still keeping your ultimate target in view. It keeps the heart of the resolution intact, while disposing of the notion that failure is an option.

We can also have fun thinking of creative ways to display our power word and keep it central to the things we do every day. While it might feel weird to scribble “KEEP YOUR CLOSET ORGANIZED” on a wall of your apartment, hand-lettering a piece of wood or even creating a mood board around the theme of “INTENTION” could serve as a constant inspiration.

Cohen shared his own positive experience with power words, saying, “In my particular case, I have as reminders: ‘media’ (because visibility is essential to remain relevant and in demand and because I like the exposure), ‘expert’ (because I want my individual and corporate clients to always believe that they are getting the very best career resource), and ‘healthy’ (because I know that I am empowered, energized, and joyful when I feel great physically).” Citing some other examples of power words for the year 2018, he suggested “bold” (a reminder to speak out and ask for what we want and deserve), “comfort” (prioritizing self-care and achieving a calm, centered peace of mind), and “reward” (a reminder to be aware of our contributions and accept appropriate recognition).

To set yourself up for an empowered 2018, spend some time evaluating your own emotional space, your physical health, your family life, and the goals you have in mind for the future. Make sure not to leave other people out of the plan-ahead process, as accountability will vastly improve your odds of follow-through. Listing words that you feel describe your 2017 might shed some light on what you want the upcoming year to look like. If you’re working to be more honest, be more committed to your responsibilities, and set boundaries in your relationships, try “AUTHENTIC.” If you’re working on limiting social media, connecting more with old friends, and having patience in a trying season, make this the year of “BEING HERE.”

All of us could use a reminder that New Year’s Day is an exciting opportunity to start fresh, but it’s also completely arbitrary. Choosing and planning a power phrase to claim victory over the year ahead is something you can do absolutely any time you want to. Cheers to finding ways to empower ourselves with gentleness, love, and not a guilty cloud in sight.

What’s your power word for 2018? Tell us @BritandCo!

(Photo via Getty)