Give Up New Year’s Resolutions!

It’s New Year’s Eve 2014. Everyone’s talking about all the stuff that happened this past year and resolutions for next year.

I gave up New Year’s resolutions a few years ago in favor of selecting a word for the entire year. My word serves as a “focus agent” to help me make decisions and plans and to guide me through challenging resolve-wordtimes. For 2014, my word was RESOLVE. You may find it a bit ironic in light of my giving up resolutions. But it was the noun I chose, meaning, “firm determination to do something.” I wanted to be firmly determined to make necessary changes in my own life and to handle the challenges of my husband, Gary’s heart disease. I wanted the determination to confront his major surgery and help him through the recovery process, which I hoped and prayed was going to happen sometime during the year.

In the spring, after one of Gary’s traumatic hospitalizations, I changed jobs to embrace my love of senior care, marketing communications, innovation and giving back. I had lost that focus on meaningful work when I left my previous employer and joined a digital marketing agency in 2012. My resolve to get back into senior housing and care was revved up and powerful in January 2014. Today I am grateful to work for a company with a social mission that fits into my personal mission of supporting family caregivers.

Each time Gary was hospitalized for illness or a test this year, I pulled out my “RESOLVE card” – a little Defibrillatorbusiness card I carried in my wallet with RESOLVE written in big, red letters. It helped me to support Gary on his healing journey, to let go of control and stay flexible during the darkest days. It also made me accept support from friends and neighbors when we desperately needed it.

Today, the worst is over. Gary is back to work. We are once again living in gratitude and joy, laughter and love.

Interestingly, Gary chose REINVENT as his word for 2014. He wanted to reinvent his body and his attitude – and he did just that. Last night, reflecting on our 2014 words, we laughed that Gary had reinvented his face, too, with his new white beard. He doesn’t care if friends are lovingly labeling him, Gary geezer 1“Santa,” “geezer,” and “prospector.” Neither do I. REINVENT worked well for him after open heart surgery, as he sat for weeks in his recliner chair, unable to do much of anything by himself. It was the process of reinvention happening – a true metamorphosis – and Gary evolved from a gravely ill and grounded heart patient into a geezer butterfly – or probably just a geezer! It’s all good.

Tomorrow I will begin to focus on my word for 2015: INSPIRE. Many people and events this year inspired me, and many of my friends and I can use a bit more inspiration to get us out of boredom, apathy, resentment or resignation. It will be fun to see what unfolds when I am focused more on INSPIRE than “expire” – because for the past couple of years, survival has been so critical. INSPIRE2014-12-26 16.08.11has more to do with thriving than surviving, so yeah – I’m ready for it! I keep asking myself what I can do to inspire others. Thankfully, the answers are beginning to materialize.

Gary has chosen TOLERANCE for the coming year. His word inspires me to make a lovely little TOLERANCE card, and then tape it to the dashboard of his truck and my car. I am inspired to enjoy peaceful road trips in 2015, with Geezer Gary at the wheel.

Please let me know if you have a word for 2015. I’d love to share your inspiration!

Happy New Year!

Shannon Ingram
Shannon is a co-founder of BoomerReviews.com. An expert in the field of marketing to Boomers, seniors and family caregivers, she is the author of "The Heart Way - A Journey from Corporate to Care" about her experience of caring for her elderly parents. She is Vice President of Industry Marketing for Caring.com and an active supporter of UCI MIND, the University of California Irvine's Institute for Memory Impairment and Neurological Disorders. She considers her most important title to be "Granny Shanny" and enjoys spending as much time as possible with her two grandchildren.

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