Selecting a word of the year helps give you a purpose and structure. In 2018, my word is tradition.
In 2017, my word of the year was habit. I picked that word because I realized I’d developed some habits that were no longer serving me, and had stopped doing some that were. I’d also done a lot of reading around habits and come to the conclusion that making more aspects of my life work automatically would be a useful thing as it would reduce my decision fatigue and therefore boost my energy.
I made small changes to my way of living that were focused on daily practices and most importantly were sustainable.
Out of all the habit-influenced changes that occurred as a result of adopting this word, the most dramatic was that I lost almost 20 pounds without going on a diet. I was VERY happy about this after piling on the weight over the last few years. Now I am getting closer to what I weighed when I met my now-husband almost six years ago and I’m confident that continuing to focus on these habits will see me at my goal weight soon.
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I had many other new habit goals and I achieved some of them. I still want to continue with these habits in 2018, but when I was thinking about the word for this year, the word that spoke to me was tradition.
I first starting thinking more broadly about this topic when I wrote my post on Creating family Christmas traditions. One of the things I wrote there was:
“Traditions are fundamentally important to our lives. They are much bigger than a simple act, for in the words of Frank Sonnenberg, they “help form the structure and foundation of our families and our society.” For these reasons, traditions are powerful ways of creating a sense of comfort and connection.”
These words really resonated with me, as the family life I provided for my children had many traditions. However, as they have matured and left home, and as my husband and I have moved to a new town and started new jobs, some traditions have been lost and yet not replaced. Some traditions, such as our Friday night king size block of chocolate, and our Sunday morning pancakes have been regrettably cast aside due to their effect on my aforementioned weight. While I appreciate their absence on one level, I miss what they represented.
In addition, I also believe that when you have a super busy life it can be tempting to let the days flow one into another without marking their passing in any way. By focusing on tradition this year, I hope to change this.
My goal is to experiment with a number of traditions in different areas over the course of the year, with the idea of continuing with those that provide the most enjoyment and fulfillment. I’ve listed a number of possibilities for each area below. Some of them I already do, but consider them to be a great addition to anyone wanting to build more traditions into their life.
Make an entry in your win journal
A win is anything you decide it is – generally something you achieved or something that went well. It doesn’t have to be anything out of the ordinary. I write my wins in my month overview calendar so I can get a positivity boost at a glance.
Pop a note in your happiness jar
Coined by Elizabeth Gilbert, happiness jars are another great way to focus on the positive. Before you go to bed, simply grab a scrap of paper and write down the happiest moment of your day.
Complete a meditation
The positive benefits of meditation make this a must-at-least-try! I plan to use Headspace – the meditation app recommended by Tim Ferris and used by people like Richard Branson and Ariana Huffington. The basic app is totally free.
Have an unplugged dinner at the table
Having a meal together at the table has many benefits for children and teens, however it is also scientifically proven to reduce stress for working women. Who doesn’t need that?
Conduct an Appreciation Evening
Tell your husband three things he did that day that you appreciated, and then have him return the favor. If you want to take it to the next level, check out Simple, practical ways to show appreciation.
Celebrate the beginning of the weekend by engaging in something fun. My husband and I have nachos every Friday night and it’s something to look forward to as we near the end of the week. We also tend to binge-watch three or four shows on Netflix on a Friday as well.
Make an effort to do something every Sunday that is designed just to take care of you.
Search Pinterest for a self-care idea or try any of the ones I mention in Self-care for busy women and make Sunday a day where you focus on yourself.
Weekly relationship meeting
This is something my husband and I already do and it’s had a really positive effect on our marriage. We cover important but also fun things. You can find out how to have a relationship meeting here.
Call me maybe
Set aside a time in the weekend to make contact with people such as parents, children, grandparents and so on, then sit with your spouse and update them on all the family news.
The Long Walk
Take the dogs and go for a long walk together. Try and explore new ground as well as familiar haunts.
Once a month, go date your husband. If you’ve got no idea how to start a date night, you’re in the right place. Check out The ultimate date night guide for married couples.
Local bucket list adventure
Create a list of places within a couple of hour’s drive. I use our local tourist website but you can also use sites like Trip Advisor. Once a month, pick one and go play tourist in your backyard.
M&Ms: Market and movies
Go to a local farmers’ market and grab some fresh produce. Then head off to the movies and snuggle up close.
Sweet Treat Sunday
Bake a new sweet treat and enjoy it with a nice cup of tea. I’ve already co-opted my husband into being the baker this year!
Of course as well as daily, weekly and monthly traditions, there are other special times we should focus on traditions such as holidays and celebrations.
These are traditions for these occasions that I think sound like fun!
- Watch a movie related to the holiday in question
- Research how other cultures celebrate the same or similar days and practice that ritual. For example, this year my husband and I tried the Icelandic tradition of buying each other a book, giving it to each other on Christmas Eve, and reading it while we ate chocolate
- Buy an ornament to mark the year
- Create an advent calendar with experiences to lead up to the day
- Every year take a photo of everyone who shared the holiday with you – in the same place if possible
- Have a Birthday Eve celebration
- Have breakfast in bed
- Have a birthday cake with candles, regardless of your age
- Have a special or favourite food and enjoy it with no guilt
- Do one activity that creates a feeling of nostalgia. For example, on my birthday (which is coming up soon) one of the day’s activities will be going to a berry farm and picking berries. I used to love picking berries as a child and I also used to take my children when they were younger, so it’s something that has a lot of positive memories associated with it
- Write a love letter to each other
- Look at your wedding photos and read over your vows including any readings that were shared in your ceremony
- Make the whole week lead up a celebration with a personally designed countdown to the event
- Celebrate your Artiversary- Commemorate the date by purchasing some art. Every time you look at it you will remember the event and also the experience of selecting the art to purchase
- Give the traditional or contemporary gift for the year of marriage or an experience associated with the traditional or contemporary gift for the year of marriage – for example, buy tickets for paper Check out this list of the first 50 traditional and contemporary anniversary gifts.
Significant wins, firsts, and lasts
- Have a pancake breakfast
- Write down the impact of this event on your life and what you hope it will bring
- Eat dinner on your best china
- Plant a large plant or tree to commemorate the occasion
- Make a toast and film it for future reference
Traditions are the glue that hold a family together. They create fond memories and things to look forward to. If you are struggling to think of a good word of the year, then consider using tradition and trialing some of the activities I’ve suggested here – daily, weekly, monthly, or for holidays and celebrations, you’ll find there’s always something you can celebrate.
Do you have any suggestions for traditions you think I should try?