Words to Live By – Simplifying New Year Resolutions

Words can be powerful.  They can mean one thing and many things all at once.

It’s resolution making time.  Best foots are being put forward for a bright new year.  Promises are being made.  Maybe some have already been broken.  I’ve not made a New Year’s resolution for a long time.  We abandoned them several years ago, as restrictive and often unrealistic added pressure in what was already the gloomiest month of the year.  Even switching them around so they sound more positive still fails to hide the truth, you’ve made a list of things you’re going to feel bad about if you do them.  Not how I want to start my new year.

For a while, we wrote bucket lists of all the things, big and small, that we wanted to do or achieve that year.  From feeding the ducks to learning to snowboard, it was an awesome list of days out and experiences.  It was fun to think up all of the things we wanted to do, and satisfying to tick each of them off.  But some things just kept moving to the following year.  Mainly the big things.  Or the expensive things.  Until all we had on left our list were big and expensive things.  It had become a New Year list of everything we had failed to already achieve.  I still haven’t learnt to snowboard.

So, last year I decided to scrap the new year resolutions and scrap the bucket list.  I wanted to live more in the present.  Not by some arbitrary set of rules I’d given myself, or by ticking off tasks on a list.

Instead, I chose two words.

I thought long and hard about them, they were to be my focus for that year.



I chose words that I wanted to be in my life more.  Words that would remind me how to improve my life every day.

Being Present in my life had become very important to me.  After the birth of Bee in the summer of 2015, I’d checked out emotionally for a while.  Post-natal anxiety meant that I hadn’t really felt completely present for Bee’s first few months.  My anxiety also often led me to live way out in the future, worrying and fretting about a life (or death) that may never come.  So, for 2016 I wanted to be Present.  I wanted to live in the moment, to look around me and recognise what was good, to be thankful, and to give 100% of my attention to my little family right as they were.

Knowing that it wouldn’t be easy, my second word was Brave.  I called on that word more times than I thought I would throughout 2016.  Even seemingly small things can take a whole chestful of bravery to begin.  It’s not a word we use often as adults.  Brave is a word reserved for children having their scrapes patched up, and firefighters in blazing buildings.  But it’s a strong word, and we should use it more.  It certainly helped me push my boundaries and take leaps that I never thought I would.

This year I’m adding two more words.

slow written on pink watercolour background

Slowing things down fits in with being present.  It feels like the logical next step.  Everything in the world is so fast.  Technology, people, growing-up.  Sometimes I need reminding to stop.  To slow down because it’s not a race.  And actually, going slow is pretty beautiful.  Last autumn Bee and I took a slow walk to the post box.  I noticed so much that I just wouldn’t have seen normally.  In 2017, I want to go slow more.  To take moments to stop and look around me.  To breathe everything in.  To breathe Bee in whilst I’m still all she needs.

touch written on pink watercolour background

I’m not an incredibly physical person.  I probably take after my dad in that respect.  Whilst I am physically affectionate with my little family, even then I sometimes forget.  I’m quite happy in my own skin, and I really value my personal space.  I never quite understood how much until I had Bee.

In those first few months of post-natal anxiety and continuous breastfeeding I struggled with the intensity of Bee being constantly in my personal space.  I hadn’t realised how much I keep that invisible barrier around me, nor had I anticipated how difficult it would be to let it down, or even that I would need to.  Over time Bee became a part of my personal space, she kind of existed within it (she still does) and it stopped being a problem.  But it did open my eyes.  What am I missing out on.

Touch releases the neurohormone oxytocin which makes us feel happy and reduces stress, fear and pain.  – Meik Wiking

I definitely need more of that in my life.  And who knows, maybe my practice subjects will fell the benefit too.

This year I challenge you to ditch the new year resolutions and bucket lists.  Choose a word, choose two.  And live by them.



  1. January 6, 2017 / 1:37 pm

    I love this! Sometimes we over complicate things when the happiest, best things things in life are actually really simple. Thanks for linking up to #ThatFridayLinky

    • catherine
      January 6, 2017 / 2:24 pm

      Thank you. My first time.

  2. January 6, 2017 / 3:36 pm

    Oh some great words for the year and a great way to make simple resolutions too! Happy new year, have a great 2017 #PoCoLo

    • catherine
      January 6, 2017 / 4:21 pm

      Thank you and Happy New Year to you too.

  3. January 6, 2017 / 7:03 pm

    I love this post. The ‘touch’ aspect really resonates with me. We weren’t a touchy feely family growing up. In fact we’ve only started hugging as I can recall as adults!! Thankfully with my own family it came naturally to hug and be close but I still find it odd with other people. Good words to live by 🙂

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:16 pm

      Thanks lovely. Glad I’m not the only one.

  4. January 6, 2017 / 7:59 pm

    This is why I haven’t written down my goals or resolutions yet. Once they’re down on paper what if I fail? I’m about to go back to work after maternity and sick leave, I’ve been off for 15 months! I don’t want to put extra pressure on myself.

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:17 pm

      And so you shouldn’t. Be kind to yourself. Good luck with the changes petal.

  5. January 6, 2017 / 8:02 pm

    Wise words lady – I need to be more ‘slow’ so often getting caught up in the whirlwind of work, home and child. She’s growing so fast why make it go quicker? This weekend I’m going to challenge myself to slow the pace and just be. Maybe a couple of days will turn into weeks then months… Thank you xx

  6. January 6, 2017 / 8:14 pm

    I love this idea! Much better than Resolutions!

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:18 pm

      Thank you lovely.

  7. January 6, 2017 / 10:08 pm

    Words are wonderful things to live by. It’s interesting to read your take on them and learn more about you. #tribalchat

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:18 pm

      Thank you.

  8. January 6, 2017 / 11:20 pm

    I” not touchy feely enough either which was never really a problem before I had a family. But no I need to dish out more cuddles as it doesn’t always come naturally and my bunch are super cuddly, including my husband, so I’m outnumbered now! #TribalLove

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:19 pm

      Thought I’d be the only one owning up to it so thank you. Better get practicing those cuddles.

  9. January 7, 2017 / 3:37 am

    I so love this and I love “slow” in particular. So many amazing experiences can be overlooked if you don’t pause and give yourself an opportunity to experience it. That’s an ongoing lesson I’ve been learning since having my daughter. Thanks for this lovely post. I’ll be subscribing and connecting to keep up with all the awesomeness to come. #thatfridaylinky

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:21 pm

      Thank you poppet. I get caught up so easily in the whirlwind of live. I need ‘slow’ stuck on my fridge to remind me to stop and smell the roses.

  10. Nige
    January 7, 2017 / 12:15 pm

    Wise words for the new year love this post good luck for 2017 Thanks for linking to the #THAT FRIDAY LINKY come back next week please

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:22 pm

      Thank you. Have really enjoyed joining you all.

  11. January 9, 2017 / 2:08 am

    what a fabulous idea! I stopped making the standard resolutions some years back, a few years after changing my life to the one i live in the here and now. Instead, these days i just reflect on the joys of the past and promise myself to enjoy the PRESENT of the coming year. with my usual mantra of Live, Love, Laugh….
    I am however also a ‘toucher’ , everyone gets a hug. The Welsh (I live in Wales nowadays) have a wonderful word for it “CWTCH” (kootch)… sending one your way xx

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:29 pm

      Aw thank you so much lovely. My last years focus on being present really changed the way I thought about my life. Thanks for the cwtch, awkwardly sending one back 😉

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:29 pm

      Thank you.

  12. January 9, 2017 / 10:26 am

    I love this idea of choosing words rather than resolutions. I need to think about mine for this year. I suffer with anxiety and I’m always so worried about dying – I was told this was ‘normal’ for mum’s to worry about this but most of the mum’s I’ve spoken to say they don’t even think about it, so I’m glad to read I’m not alone.

    I’m off to have a think now.. xx

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:32 pm

      Oh you’re definitely not alone honey. Look out for my upcoming post about my anxiety because I talk about it quite a bit. I hope you find some words that resonate with you, and have a lovely 2017.

  13. January 9, 2017 / 10:31 am

    This is such a nice post. I like the idea of ‘slow’, all too often routine makes us have to keep up.
    If I were running (walking) a race I’d be happy pootling at the back checking out the scenery so I should so the same while I’m living my life!

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:34 pm

      It’s all about the slow this year. What’s the rush? We’re all going to get there in the end.

  14. January 9, 2017 / 11:11 am

    Oh yes! We are definitely on the same wavelength. I don’t make resolutions either but I do like the thought of a word. I’ll have to get my thinking cap on! Thank you for linking up to #EatSleepBlogRT 🌟

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:35 pm

      It’s a lovely focus to have Catie, without the pressure. I stick mine on the fridge (I go in it a lot!) as a gentle reminder.

  15. January 9, 2017 / 1:16 pm

    I love this! I don’t usually do resolutions either, although I have a couple of ‘goals’ this year. I chose the word ‘create’ back in 2007 when I had my own stationery business and was trying for a baby. It happened 🙂 #PostsFromTheHeart

    • catherine
      January 9, 2017 / 4:37 pm

      The power of words. Just think what you could do this year.

  16. January 10, 2017 / 2:36 pm

    A very simple but powerful idea! I hope you have a great 2017! #postsfromtheheart

    • catherine
      January 11, 2017 / 2:04 pm

      Thank you. Wishing you a wonderful 2017 too.

  17. January 10, 2017 / 10:31 pm

    I love how you’ve added words to the two you already had and because you feel they will enrich your life. I’m very much of having a word to focus on through the year, but agree sometimes it needs more than just one word. Wishing you all the best with these words and all the very best for 2017. Thanks for sharing with #hopesanddreamsfor2017

  18. January 11, 2017 / 1:15 pm

    This is great. I like it that you give out the message of live by your words. And connecting it to your 2016 words, live in the present. You’re right. When we get too consumed by our resolutions and bucket lists, we do things to achieve them oftentimes failing to enjoy the process of getting that resolution done or that bucket list unchecked. Myself needs to slow down this year. I had been busy doing Parents’ Association volunteer works that I feel I should have given more attention to my children. Cheers for 2017! #PostsFromTheHeart

  19. January 12, 2017 / 9:13 am

    I love the idea of using a word to focus on for the year and what good words you chose for 2016. So glad that they helped you to be present and brave. Slow is a brilliant word to choose too – so difficult to slow down sometimes but it does make such a difference, doesn’t it – noticing more and being more present in the moment. I also struggle with needing to have that space around me – having my personal space so constantly invaded is one of the challenges of parenthood for me. Good luck with allowing more touch into your life 🙂

    • catherine
      January 12, 2017 / 8:21 pm

      It’s so easy to get to the end of the day and feel completely touched out isn’t it?

  20. January 12, 2017 / 9:03 pm

    Love how you’ve built on the words you had last year – i think you’ll be making your own building blocks for life too. Thanks for sharing with #PoCoLo 🙂

    • catherine
      January 17, 2017 / 9:47 pm

      Thank you.

  21. January 13, 2017 / 10:11 pm

    I never set myself NY resolutions but this year i have set myself some tuff ones. I want to change a few things about my life and without them set out i would chicken out . I love that you have added ‘slow’ to your choice of words as i would love to slow down but presently have 1 setting and thats super sonic #PostsFromTheHeart

  22. January 15, 2017 / 9:17 am

    Love it. This year I have chosen two words too, Create and Focus, and I intend to keep these words in mind for the year. I love your words.
    Thanks for linking to #pocolo

    • catherine
      January 15, 2017 / 4:34 pm

      Create and Focus are great words to choose. Should be quite exciting when you get to the end of the year and look back on how they worked for you.

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