2019 is here. Never mind resolutions. What’s your slogan for the new year?
I used to make resolutions. I stopped because I always broke them before January gave way to February. Actually, that’s a stretch. I usually broke them before Jan. 1 gave way to Jan. 2 or 3 or someday not long after.
Eventually, I started making goals instead, jotting down what I hope to accomplish in the coming year. Resolutions are often absolute and precise, and you feel lousy when you fail to keep them. Goals are open-ended; they create an aim to which you can take the time you need, and you can vary in your approaches to get there. Last week, I sat down and wrote 10 goals I hope to accomplish this year.
In recent years, though, I have found a good, strong slogan to be even more effective than a list of goals. A slogan creates an overarching theme, an umbrella under which everything else, including goals, can be placed.
I did not have a slogan in 2018, and I should have. The reason is that the slogan that I had for 2017 actually worked quite well. My slogan that year was “Purge and Progress.” The two went together – by purging, I made progress.
Case in point: I cleaned out my basement and garage that year, getting rid of nearly five tons of belongings that had accumulated and simply sat there since my family and I had moved into our new home, back in 2005. Some of these things I brought to the local transfer station and experienced that great feeling of chucking something heavy and unwanted over a concrete barrier and down into a large dumpster. Other items I dropped into a dumpster I rented and kept in my driveway for a week.
I started this purge during the first weekend of the new year. I resolved to tackle this project every Saturday morning until I was finished. Soon I caught the fever and Saturdays were not enough. I stepped up my efforts and worked on this mega-purge on weeknights. I was unsentimental and merciless. At one point, my neighbors even saved me from myself and rescued some Christmas decorations that I had kicked to the curb on trash and recycling day. Good thing – my family and I put these decorations up this past holiday season.
It took several months to finish this project. I felt fantastic afterwards. Our garage was clean, and our basement looked the way it did on the day my family and I moved in.
Purge and Progress. At the start of the year, I had the goal of cleaning the basement and the garage, once and for all. Creating that slogan, though, gave my efforts a name and served as a way to keep me focused and committed and moving forward. Keeping such a simple, catchy slogan in mind kept its related goals and purposes in mind too.
Catchy. As with all slogans, that’s the key. Your slogan has to be catchy.
Mine for 2019 is Go Slow, Give and Grow. Five words. Five syllables. And hey, it rhymes!
“Go slow.” This means a couple of things. Stopping and smelling the proverbial roses, absolutely. Eating is another example. I tend to eat quickly. Big bites. Every doctor and health nut I have ever met says you shouldn’t do that. Since coining this year’s slogan, I’ve taken smaller bites and have chewed more. I even had this slogan in mind when I recently made myself a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast. I opened the kitchen drawer for a spoon. All the tablespoons were dirty and waiting to be washed. I could have scrubbed one clean, but I had an idea. I reached for a teaspoon. Smaller bites. Ever since, I’ve eaten breakfast with a teaspoon. We’re only talking roughly a week here, but hey. So far, so good.
“Give.” Give my time, either to my family, friends or community, and share my talents, resources, and abilities with others. I try to do these things, anyway, but there’s always room for improvement, right? This 2019 slogan is intended to help with that.
“Grow.” I’ve been stuck at five-nine since high school, so obviously I mean evolving as a person. Learning. Working on shortcomings. Building upon my strengths.
“Go Slow, Give and Grow.” If I can stick with it, those five words can take a lot of thoughts, goals and hopes and boil them down to a concise, guiding force for the coming year. “Purge and Progress” saw me through June of its year before it admittedly left my mind. That right there is proof – for me, anyway – that a good slogan has more staying power than a resolution declared during the dark, wintry days of early January.
Shawn P. Sullivan is an award-winning columnist and the author of “Islands in the Chaotic Ocean of Life,” a memoir that is available online at Amazon.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.