Resolutions: A One-Word Theme for 2016

resolutions as one-word themes for yearHappy New Year, guys! As we’re all slowly getting back into the swing of things, I thought we’d have a discussion about resolutions. I’ve recently read a few different posts about how they now recommend you choose a “one-word theme” for the year. Gretchen Rubin chose the theme “lighten up” for 2016, and over at Apartment Therapy a blogger wrote about how the phrase “use it” was very helpful for her to use stuff around her apartment that had begun to clutter the space.  Do you have a theme for 2016? Do you like the idea of a simple phrase to encapsulate all of your goals for the year?

I actually did a version of this many moons ago — while in college I was intrigued that looking at some artwork made me uncomfortable, so I made that my goal for the next year — my only resolution was “to be uncomfortable.”  I wanted to challenge myself when I said no to something because I was going to be uncomfortable, or understand when ideas made me uncomfortable.  Throughout the year, the word would pop up in my head, both as a reaction to events (you’re uncomfortable! good job!) as well as a driving force (hmmn, have you been uncomfortable in a while? what would make you uncomfortable?).  It actually turned into a great year of growth for me, mentally, and I’ve always looked back on that resolution fondly.

Then, for some reason, I returned to the typical “list” form of resolutions.  And promptly fell off the wagon within a few weeks, every year.

This year, my theme is going to be “hungry,” I think.  I want to be hungry for new ideas and new challenges, professionally and creatively.  Hungry to get to the end of a project. (I’m horrible at stopping something or putting it on hold after I get about 80% done!)  Hungry for more time with my boys, my husband, my family, my friends.  And yes, in a literal sense, hungry in that I eat less.

How about you, ladies — do you have a theme for 2016? Have you tried phrase-based themes for years in the past, or do you prefer list-based resolutions? 

Pictured: Loch Carron Dawn, originally uploaded to Flickr by Oliver Clarke.

resolutions themes pin


  1. Mine is “Go Outside”. I live near the Rockies, and I still spend 99% of my time in the city.

    This year I want to pick up hiking, and just spend more time taking advantage of the gorgeous nature that surrounds me.

    On that note- does anyone hike? Tips? How did you get into it?

    • I live in Denver (guessing you do too). I got into hiking a few years ago. I enjoy going on hikes that have a good “reward” at the end….a lake, a beautiful view, etc. My most memorable hike in recent years was to Diamond Lake. You should google it, it’s beautiful! I would recommend googling “hikes near Denver” and looking at the discussions online. People give really helpful tips like: “don’t go on a weekend, too crowded and no where to park” or “If you see the big green forest service sign you’ve gone too far”.

      • Not in Denver, about 1000 miles north of there! But that’s a great tip, I’ll look up hikes that have a “reward” at the end.

        I’m a little worried about the fitness side of it- I run (3-4 miles, 3x/week), but it’s almost always flat, and some of the hikes around here are quite difficult, so hopefully I can find some beginner hikes to start off with.

        Do I really need hiking boots to get started? Any tips on what to pack for my hikes?

        • Diana Barry :

          I do day hikes only, even steep ones, and wear sneakers. The only thing I bring is a ton of water in a mini backpack. I do have hiking boots, but they are heavy and I find them better for muddy, flat hikes.

        • I do day hikes. I take a fully charged mobile charging brick, lots of ’emergency Mars Bars’ and a spare dry sweater and hat, plus a huge bottle of water. Plus a packed lunch.

          If I switch data on my phone off I can listen to podcasts all day without using more than about 25% of my battery.

    • I would suggest going on Amazon and buying a “Day Hikes” book that covers your area. Then, when it arrives, sit down with it and flag several hikes that you would like to try. Typically guide books like this are very good about giving distance, estimated time, difficulty, etc, so you can find ones that you think will be enjoyable. You can also Google map them to make sure they’re within the distance you’d like to drive to get there – if you’re just getting started, try to look within an hour radius of where you live so that you don’t get daunted about having a long drive. Flag or bookmark the ones that are appealing to you, that way when you think “I’d like to go hiking this weekend!” you have a list of hikes ready to go!

      This is an area when I would definitely recommend getting the actual book rather than relying on internet lists. Those can be out of date or incomplete. You can bring a book along (or photocopy the relevant pages if you don’t want to carry a book) because they often have maps and mile-by-mile instructions to make sure you don’t get lost.

    • If you roll your ankles easily or have poor balance (raises hand) consider bringing cheap poles. I always thought those were just for big hikes but they help so much going down steep portions. Before I bought them I would just grab a big stick to help me balance but the poles are so much more practical.

    • I love hiking and could talk about it all day! I highly recommend a Camelback for water. It’s much lighter than carrying a backpack with water bottles and you don’t have to stop to pull out a water bottle.

      Shoes – I’ve sprained my right ankle several times (not hiking) so if I am hiking somewhere really rocky (probably most mountain trails, especially where I used to live), I prefer my boots. If it is not rocky and just a dirt trail, running shoes are fine (which is what I use in my southern city I live in now).

      Definitely get a book. One that shows altitude gain would be helpful.

    • Go to and see if there are any hiking groups in the area, unless you know for sure you want to hike alone.

  2. Waste Less. From practical stuff- meal planning and not tossing food out to more meta approaches- being mindful of what I spend my time doing and focusing on filling it with things that matter.

    • I agree with Mascot. I must waste less time @ work, or at least make the time I waste billeable. The manageing partner was thrilled at my 2015 stastictiscs but want’s me to do even better in 2016. That mean’s that all my work MUST be billeable to a client, or preferabeley MORE then 1. Thays is definition of EFICIEY!!! YAY!!!!!

  3. Wildkitten :

    Mine is “accomplish” but maybe it should’ve been “complete.” I’m sick of having the same resolutions every year and just want to get the stuff on my to do list DONE.

    • Last year, my theme was “Try S#%t.” Very graphic, memorable and motivating. I did things that I never thought I would and regained my bravery. For 2016, it is “Spread Joy.” I plan to be a positive force in an increasingly scary world.

  4. I really like this idea. I think I’m going to choose “Relish” as a way to encompass living more in the moment/my reality (instead of envying the lives I see online), taking time for enjoyment over monotony, paying more attention to what I’m eating and enjoying it (rather than eating out of boredom), and treasuring my relationships with family and friends.
    Now I want a big sign to put somewhere where I will see it all the time.

    • This is great! Mindfulness is so important!

    • Wildkitten :

      Be careful. If you put up a big “RELISH” sign people might bring their hot dogs to you expecting toppings to be availabile at your location.

      • Ha! That actually comes to mind first for me any time I hear the word relish, but “mindfulness” doesn’t include the happiness component of the idea that is important to me and “enjoy” isn’t my favorite word. Any favorite synonyms that don’t make you hungry?

  5. Be positive.

    I’m 2 months into a new job, but not loving it. It’s with a major leader in my field, so it’ll look good on my resume, but I am bored to tears every day. I need to stay for a year, and in the meantime, I need to not grouse about work and to remind myself that while I am not at all challenged, I’m learning a great deal about another side of my field that I wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to, so I’m not “wasting time” just because I’m not in my preferred job. In short, no complaining!

  6. My husband’s is: Be in the present. He acknowledges that he spends way too much looking at his phone and wants to do less of that in 2016. Of course, sometimes he really needs to look at work emails but a lot of the time he is browsing and doing things that are a waste of time.

    For me: Have more fun. I had my second child this year, moved to a new city, and started a new job. With everything going on, I feel like we were holed up in our home many weekends and didn’t get out as much as a family. I also really miss socializing with my friends.

  7. I’m trying to think of a word that embodies the concept I’m thinking of…

    Basically, something along the lines of “Wrest” or “Extract” – I am not particularly happy with my current situation, especially career-wise, but will be sticking with it for another 18 months or so because it is a good position and will open a lot of doors for me in the future. So, I’m trying to think of a word that reminds me to look for the bright side of my current situation rather than just counting down the days until I can do something else.

    Maybe I’ll skip the “word” craze and instead find a painting I like of Jacob wrestling with the angel – I’m not a particularly religious person but that is basically the concept I’m trying to articulate.

    • Wildkitten :

      Big Picture? Long Term?

      • Actually almost the opposite of that – I’m trying to remind myself that I should find ways to enjoy and appreciate my current situation, rather than just focusing on gritting my teeth and thinking “this will be good long term…” – that’s how I have spent the past few months and I’d like to adjust my thinking.

        Maybe “appreciate” is what I’m looking for! I like it a lot because its dual meanings encompass both gratitude and understanding – I can think that I should be grateful for my current situation and also comprehend that it’s a stepping stone to better things!

  8. Mine is “blossom.” I’ve reached a really good baseline in my life, and now I want to make each part better. I want to make my house really lovely and reflective of what I like. On the health side of things, I have developed a good sense of what works for me over the last few years and now I want to put it all together to create a healthier me. In my career I’m hoping for a job change very soon into a role that I will be able to make my own and completely kick butt at. And to take it a little more literally, I’ll planning on doing a lot of gardening this summer!

  9. Mine is SELFF – Serenity – Envision Life with Friends and Family. Basically taking care of myself physically and mentally so that I can enjoy my life, not waste it and not die young.

  10. Anonymous :

    I like the one from Apartment Therapy — use it. I’m so that person who has clothes, note cards, dinnerware, etc., that’s “too nice” to use — until it goes bad or goes out of style or it otherwise rendered useless. I’m going to wear my nice businesswear to work! I’m going to write more cards because I love sending them! I’m going to wear my fine jewelry! I’m going to use the expensive ingredients in meals instead of saving them!

    (And since I have a holiday hangover, first I’m going to crawl back into bed as soon as I get home :P)

    • Yes, use it! I have made myself wear my jewelry, do my hair nice(ish) and put on makeup in the morning even though I work from home and only see people to run errands. It makes me feel better to be put together, more ‘adult’, and as a mom – like I value myself – things I want my child to see.

  11. Mine is follow-up or follow-through. I have a life time supply of goals and never manage to achieve them, despite steps in the right direction. This year is not about starting new, but actually accomplishing what I start.

  12. Sydney Bristow :

    My theme for 2016 is Growth & Progess

    My resolutions are about reading/learning, looking more presentable (growing up), and making a big dent in my student loans.

  13. Survival. (with 2 full time working parents and 3 special needs teens/tweens, plus a few other kids, this is all I can deal with).

    • I’m with you. My best ideas so far are “endure” and “cope.” It’s trying being in the sandwich generation.

  14. Anonymous :

    Mine is discard/toss/trash (sorry I know that’s a hot button word here)–get rid of stuff I don’t use that’s just taking up space, get rid of obligations I don’t enjoy (non-work–I’m thinking things like sending out holiday cards when I hate crafting), step away from friendships that are toxic, etc. On the one hand, it feels a little self-absorbed to be like “I’m going to be all about things that give ME joy” but I also think it’s better for everyone around me if I’m actually happy, fully committed to the things I do stick with, and not so burned out.

    • Wildkitten :

      “Unsubscribe” is good too. Unsubscribe from obligations. Unsubscribe from toxic friendships…

      • Anonymous :

        Oh that is good, and highlights in the literal sense that I have a lot of time-suck e-mails I need to unsub from!

  15. New Tampanian :

    Mine is “Be Selfish”

    I spent a year acclimating and accepting every single invitation to anything since I was new in town. This year, I need to be selfish and focus on me. I’m pretty settled in with work so now I can re-focus on my own well being and growth.

  16. Senior Attorney :

    I’m having a hard time thinking of just one word, but I’m thinking of something like “get a grip” or “tighten up” or “rein things in.” I had SO MUCH FUN in 2015 but I can’t go on at that pace (that spending pace, that eating/drinking pace, that staying up late pace, that acting-like-a-teenager pace) indefinitely. I want to keep having copious amounts of fun but be a tiny bit more responsible, too.

    Maybe what I’m looking for is “grow up!” LOL

    • How about “balance”?

      • Senior Attorney :

        Yeah, that’s part of it for sure.

        Actually that’s a good one because physical balance is something I want to work on this year, too.

  17. My word is Fit this year. Both in terms of my physical goals — I ran two half marathons last year, would like to continue that and explore new ways to stay fit and engaged with my physical world.

    I am also thinking of it in terms of things fitting in the right place, in terms of the elusive work-life balance.

  18. Anonymous :

    Effort. I want accomplish a major fitness goal, payoff my loans, and look more put together. All of those come down to effort.

  19. What a great thread, I hadn’t thought about this but now I’m considering “Get out There.” I’m in a pretty good place after ending a marriage of 25 years, in a lovely new home that is all mine and on very amicable terms with the nearly ex (it will be final one month from today). But I spend too much time working and being alone in that lovely new house. So I need to get out there and exercise more (ex was my workout partner/nudge), get out there and go to all the shows and dance parties and art events he hated, get out there and make more friends/see my existing friends more. And, gulp, get out there and date.

  20. Mine is UPGRADE. In both big and small ways, I want to move things to the next level this year– a lot of stuff that’s become stagnant or I let myself live with despite deserving better… For example, I just bought a new dish set to replace the old, mismatched one I’d been carrying from apartment to apartment for years… and I am thinking now that I’m 34 years old, it might be time to move to an apartment that has an actual, separate bedroom rather than a one-room studio!

  21. DisenchantedinDC :

    Mine is honor my strength. I spend every year wanting to change my body. This year, I want to let the strong parts of my body carry me to where I want to be by respecting, loving, and nurturing them. I am strong enough to accomplish my goals, but I am enough as I am. Resolutions? Get a pull-up (even a kipping one), go on a couple dates, pay down debt (I have a big bonus coming in July I want to put totally towards credit cards/loans), and to do my best to not let or keep toxic people in my life.

    For the last two years, it’s been “be present”.

  22. “Stay afloat, even when you are adrift”

    I got back into yoga this fall after a many-year absence, and this is one of things I repeat to myself when I push against the boundary of my capability. Which to me is a reminder that as long as I am making the effort and putting myself in uncomfortable but ultimately rewarding situations, it’s ok if I am not “succeeding”. It’s also a sentiment that applies to many areas of my life right now.

  23. Diana Barry :

    I think my theme for this year is “Direction”. What direction am I taking, and does that direction take me where I want to go? I feel a little bit at a crossroads with work, and hope this will help!

  24. Can I stay anonymous? :


    Finally ready to make that a major focus, which means I’ve signed up for several dating apps and am resolving to actually use them, and that I’m going to make more time to see my best friends and maybe even some more remote friends.

  25. Anonymous :

    “You know all those things you’ve always wanted to do? You should go do them!”

  26. Calibrachoa :

    Mine is “Improve”

    I stuck to my resolutions last year, but I feel like I could have done more – so this year, I am recycling them and working on them some more. They were simple – Write more, take better care of myself, and take less excrement from people. I did okay , but I still thought more things than I put into words, still put off docs appointments and took the easy way out too often, and let people walk over m and kept my head down. Still there was a noticeable difference compared to the year before, so yeah. I want to improve.

  27. Yes. For the first time in my life I have picked a word. “Unhurried.” It’s already making a noticeable difference in my days. Who knew?

  28. Anonymous :

    Mine are:

    Use it: all the STUFF that is too good to use, the clothes that are too NICE to wear
    Lose it: weight, stress, tension, etc

  29. Mine would be “beginner’s mind” or “begin where you are”.

    I’ve had some serious career setbacks lately and I’m not sure where I’m headed from here – and of course this is affecting my state of mind at work, at home, everywhere. I need to stop beating myself up about the mistakes I’ve made, what people “at my level” have achieved and I have not, and just work with what I have without blame or judgment.

  30. Mine is ‘move forward’ which involves finishing up existing tasks (half-finished articles for submissions, the ever looming doctorate) while preparing for next steps (making sure I’m a competitive candidate on the job market and my body, finances, and marriage are ready for a baby)

  31. Lady Justice :

    Three words: Be More Me. After working in government for so many years, I’m ready to let my sparkle out!

  32. A little late to be adding. But my word is Stamina.

work fashion blog press mentions