Name Your Year
An Alternative Approach to New Year’s Resolutions
Traditions and rituals are important. Not just for creating healthy habits, but for cultivating mindfulness as well. This year, I’d like to tell you about a ritual I’ve shared with my friends for over twenty years. As the New Year approaches, I name my year. Sometimes the name comes to me several months ahead of time, and sometimes it doesn’t come until January 1st, but I give every year a name.
The name serves several purposes, although it’s mainly a tool for setting my intentions. Instead of setting New Year’s resolutions, I think about what I’d like my next year to look like, write down my goals and intentions, and find a pseudonym that neatly encompasses my hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. Here are some examples of what I’ve named my past years:
2020 – Year of the Helping Hand
2019 – Year of Reflective Shadows
2018 – Year of the Wild Monk
2017 – Year of the Vibrant Nesting Doll
2016 – Year of the Unchained Heart
2015 – Year of the Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty
2014 – Year of the Grinning Tiger
2013 – Year of the Golden Butterfly
2012 – Year of Roots
2011 – Year of Awesome
2010 – Year of Nobody Fucks with a Lion
In the Year of the Grinning Tiger, I was moving to India and I knew I wanted to focus on cultivating happiness. In the Year of the Wild Monk, my big goals were meditating more and taking more chances. For the Year of the Rainbow Butterfly Unicorn Kitty, well — that one speaks for itself. My process involves giving my intentions a fun visual.
I share my name and my purpose with friends, for accountability. There are a lot of ways you can do this, but personally, I’ve chosen to share with a group of friends. There are quite a few of us now, and together our monthly check-ins create accountability, inspire one other, and work toward our goals. As we know, good habits inspire good habits.
I also like to practice personal reflection on my name throughout the year. Each month, I do a recap of where I am so I can refocus, put fresh intent behind my goals, and reevaluate the ones not working. If things aren’t working out how I had hoped and I’m not living up to the name I created, I ask myself why. Do I need more support or motivation? Was my goal too simple? Did I have the resources I needed? If not, can I change this?
As you can imagine, every year has twists and turns that I hadn’t predicted, and the name often ends up taking on another meaning. If this is happening to you, readjust your understanding of the name you chose by expanding your awareness. For instance, 2020 was a year none of us could have predicted. I originally expected myself to be the helping hand in the “Year of the Helping Hand,” but the helping hands ended up being people all over the globe assisting others in need. The name of my year is almost always correct, but the way I interpret it usually needs to evolve.
For 2021, I encourage you to name your own year. Put your own spin on it, make it yours, and see what a simple tradition can bring to your life. Tell me what you name your year in the Comments below and let me know if you have any New Year rituals of your own!
Now that you have named your year be sure to check out my follow up post on planning your year!