Three words that can define you — and your growth — in 2017

Forget New Year resolutions. This path will take you where you need to go.

I don’t make New Year resolutions. I have proof that they don’t work for me. Neither do they work for over 90% of Americans who make them, according to the Statistics Brain Institute.

I’m not against making plans for the year and settling on good intentions. But the format of most New Year resolutions cofounds me. On the one hand they seem too narrow, and therefore restrictive. On the other hand they seem too ambitious, and therefore overwhelming.

Restrictive because most are formulated as a very precise goal, for example: I will lose 20 pounds, or I will quit smoking. That leaves out a whole lot of other things that are just as important to make progress in your life.

Overwhelming because they focus on a very precise outcome, and everyday you don´t take a step towards that result, you feel like a failure.

But I’m a good sport, so I decided to try them.

For a couple of years, I took pains to formulate New Year resolutions like I will lift weights 3 times a week, and I will write 2 hours a day. This resulted in hundreds of wasted dollars on gym memberships that I didn’t use, and constant self-beating for being such a loser would-be writer.

A new way for a new you

Last January I attended a retreat conducted by Shasta Nelson, a speaker, author, and founder of, which gave me a new way to set goals for the year. And it worked.

Shasta gave us a page with dozens of adjectives. She asked us to choose three that defined how we wanted to feel at the end of 2016.

I chose VIBRANT, JOYFUL, and RENEWED. I have explained at length in a Facebook post all the things that made me feel this way in 2016, so I will just summarize them here:

  • I left a plum corporate job for the uncertainty — and thrill — of launching my own business, Vida Now. I tried several new lines of work.
  • I made a lot of new friends and reinforced my relationship with old friends.
  • I wrote more.
  • I was more present for my son and my husband, and I felt less stressed.

Why having three words works

There are two big advantages of choosing three adjectives to define your new you, instead of making New Year resolutions:

  • It’s very easy to remember them, so they are always top of mind.
  • Every action you take can be measured against these three words.

In my case, these words became a mantra that I recited often in my mind, reinforcing my intention to embody them. I also asked myself: Will this make me more joyful? Am I bringing my authentic, vibrant-self to this? Will this bring positive change?

If the answer was yes, I knew it was a go.

If the answer was no, I knew it had to go.

I’ll be honest. There have been many days in 2016 when I didn’t feel joyful or vibrant or when I felt stuck. But at least I had a very simple method for getting back on track, not tied to a particular action.

I could do something small, like take my dog for a walk, and immediately feel more vibrant. This tiny step refreshed me enough to focus my energy on bigger steps, like hiring a designer for my website.

By the end of 2016 I was able to say: Mission accomplished.

My three words for 2017

Given the success of this method in 2016, I’ve been pondering for a few weeks what should be my three words for 2017.

How do I want to feel at the end of the year? Naturally, I still want to feel vibrant, joyful and renewed. But this is a different year with a different emphasis.

2016 was all about taking big risks and making big changes.

2017 is about hunkering down and really following through on the changes I made.

Here is how I want to feel at the end of 2017: FOCUSED, COMMITTED, BRAVE.

Those who know me will say: “But…Isidra, you are already brave and focused and committed!

Well, the truth is it takes me a while to fully throw myself into something.

Since I left my corporate job nine months ago, I have dabbled in so many different areas, that I feel like I haven’t gone deep enough in any.

So I am going to apply laser focus on just a few things that are important to me — my writing, my business, and my loved ones — , and be committed and brave enough to do what scares me the most: exposing myself, my craft, and my ideas through writing and publishing, from service pieces to literary personal essays.

Blogging in is one of the ways I have started 2017 feeling a little more focused, committed, and brave.

How do YOU want to feel at the end of 2017?

Choose three adjectives that will define you. They are the path to the new you that awaits at the end of 2017.

Happy travels!

P.S. If you feel especially brave, why not share your three words here?

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(Copyright image: Isidra Mencos)