• email
  • Tumblr
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Digg
  • LinkedIn

I love New Year’s resolutions – and I’m not the only one. Some 44% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions.

I love resolutions and for the last several years, I’ve identified one idea, summarized in just one word, as an overarching theme for the entire year.

My sister Elizabeth often does this kind of resolution, too. Last year her theme is “Novel.” One year was the year of “Free Time,” another, “Style,” another “Hot Wheels” — that year, she got a car and started driving; she and I have both struggled with a fear of driving, which was much tougher for her, given that she lives in Los Angeles and I live in New York City.

Another friend of mine does the same thing. One year, I remember, was “Dark,” another was “Make.”

For 2015, I chose “Upgrade.” In this post from January 2, I wrote, “I want to take many areas of my life to the next level. ”

And I’m happy to say, that this year, I did upgrade in a big way. With my new podcast, Happier with Gretchen Rubin! This podcast is a whole new adventure for me and Elizabeth, my co-host sister. New people, new skills, new challenges, new fun. And as I’d hoped, that feeling of “upgrade” made me feel energized and gratified. We’re especially excited today, because we just found out that iTunes named us one of the “Best of 2015” podcasts. Yowza!

And of course, my book Better Than Before came out in 2015, too. I’ve written lots of books, but it’s exciting every time, and every time, a new world opens up, afterward. It’s so thrilling to put ideas out there, to see what people say.

For 2016, I’m cheating a little, and allowing myself two words: “Lighten up.”

This isn’t a new aim of mine. I have Twelve Personal Commandments, and “Lighten up” is actually #9.

I tend to get intense and worked up, and I take myself too seriously. I want to remind myself to take things lightly, keep a sense of perspective, and see the funny side of things.

To inspire myself to lighten up, I just watched that scene from the movie Stripes: “Lighten up, Francis.” And I re-read one of my favorite lines, from G. K. Chesterton: “It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.”

“It is easy to be heavy: hard to be light.” – G. K. Chesterton via @gretchenrubin
(Click to Tweet!)

I’ve heard so many great ideas: Adventure, Renew, Energize, Bestow, Grace, Travel, Free, Rest, Finish.

Have you ever tried this choose-a-theme approach? What did you pick — or what might you pick, for 2016?

If you’d like to read more about choosing one-word themes for the year, I talk about it with my sister in episode 26 of our podcast.


Gretchen Rubin is the author of the #1 New York Times Bestseller The Happiness Project—an account of the year she spent test-driving the wisdom of the ages, current scientific studies, and lessons from popular culture about how to be happier—and the recently released Happier at Home and Better Than BeforeOn her popular blog, The Happiness Project, she reports on her daily adventures in the pursuit of happiness. For more doses of happiness and other happenings, follow Gretchen on Facebook and Twitter.

Image courtesy of Danielle MacInnes.

December 26, 2015