What I’m Doing Instead of Resolutions this Year

What I’m Doing Instead of Resolutions this Year

By Donna Gregory Burch

Donna Gregory Burch

Donna Gregory Burch

I have a love/hate relationship with New Year’s resolutions. The high-achiever, gotta-get-it-done-no-matter-what side of my personality absolutely loves the idea of setting goals for the coming year and mapping out a plan to achieve them. I’m one of those people who gets a little buzz every time I cross something off my to-do list.

Then there’s another part of me who thinks the whole idea of taking on new projects in January – one of the coldest, most miserable months of the year (at least on the East Coast of the U.S.) – is just absurd. After all, who feels like slogging to the gym through a foot of snow? (That is, IF you were even physically able to do that, which many of us with chronic pain and fatigue are not.) Who wants to eat more fruits and veggies when most everything is tasteless and out-of-season during the winter? Who wants to pack up their clutter and haul it to the Goodwill when it’s freezing outside? This definitely isn’t the ideal time of the year to take on big projects, like losing 40 pounds or decluttering our homes.

Despite the folly of New Year’s resolutions, I somehow get the itch every year to write out a list of things I’d like to accomplish during the coming months. But this year, I’ve decided to do something different. Instead of stressing myself out with a long list of overly ambitious to-dos, I’ve been inspired by this video to pick a theme word for the year. 2017’s word is HEALING.

I decided to choose healing as my word-of-the-year after my latest appointment with my Lyme specialists. Before each appointment, my doctors have me fill out a questionnaire, which lists various symptoms and asks me to rank them as mild, moderate or severe. When I started Lyme treatment in May, my score was 37. December’s score was 19. Needless to say, after so many years of feeling like crud, I am thrilled with the progress I’m making. I still have a long way to go, and my life is far from normal, but my doctors have told me that my fibromyalgia symptoms may improve once the Lyme has gone into remission. For the first time since becoming sick, I feel like it might actually be possible for me to get my life back or at least have some semblance of normalcy.

So, I’ve decided to devote 2017 to healing in all of its forms with the goal of being in remission by the end of the year. Obviously, I can’t do this all the time, but I’d like to frame as many of my thoughts and activities around healing as possible. What does that look like for me? I know that eating the wrong foods can really aggravate my fibromyalgia symptoms. I’ve already given up gluten and most processed foods, but my doctors have suggested giving up dairy, too, because I’ve tested positive for an allergy. It’s time to take their advice and see if it helps.

It means being more diligent about self-care. It means minimizing negative self-talk and conflict in my life. It means reducing stress and finally resuming an everyday meditation practice again. When I’m physically ready, it means adding in some gentle exercise, like walking or yoga. It means learning to rest when I need to instead of continuing to push ahead. It means asking others for help, even though I hate depending on anyone for anything. It means doing more research and figuring out if there are other treatments that might help in my recovery.

Choosing a theme word for the year instead of setting specific resolutions feels like a more relaxed way to approach self-growth. I don’t have a rigid set of things to do. As opportunities arise, I will ask myself, “Does this support my healing?” and let the answer guide my decision making. No pressure. No stress.

So, what do you think? If you were to choose a theme word for 2017, what would it be? Did you set resolutions this year? If so, what are they? Please share in comments below!

Donna Gregory Burch was diagnosed with fibromyalgia in 2014 after several years of unexplained pain, fatigue and other symptoms. She covers news, treatments, research and practical tips for living better with fibromyalgia on her blog, FedUpwithFatigue.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter. Donna is an award-winning journalist whose work has appeared online and in newspapers and magazines throughout Virginia, Delaware and Pennsylvania. She lives in Delaware with her husband and their many fur babies.

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Authored by: Donna Gregory Burch

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Thank you Donna for this article. I think identifying/choosing a theme to focus on rather than specific resolutions it’s a great idea. I didn’t have to ponder it at all, as soon as I read your article I knew that my theme for 2017 is simplify (and for me this it includes starting to move towards a minimalist lifestyle). Happy New Year to you.

Jean Price

Choosing a word for a yearly focus is a great idea! I’d further suggest everyone start with the dictionary AFTER you have picked your word…and see if there are any surprises or extra dimensions in the definition that will help you pinpoint and explore all the qualities of what you want to change, rearrange, and focus on this year for yourself. I confess, I love words! They are so multifaceted and so powerful and so…well, just plain fun, to analyze and pull apart and string together for a whole new perspective of communicating…with ourselves and others!

So CHOOSING just ONE WORD is going to be difficult for me!! I have been in a “comfort” mode for several years…working to see what’s most comfortable physically…but also emotionally and spiritually. This year I want to combine comfort with DISCIPLINE…to find the discipline that works for me, at many levels of my life. With pain, I think discipline has to be flexible, because our days are so varied as to what we can do and can’t do. Working out a “comfortable disciple” would also need to allow me some leeway for the times I’m bed bound or home bound, which seems to be the majority of my days lately. Yet, I’m hoping my new discipline will give me more opportunity to pursue some of the things I’ve been wanting to do at home, instead of just always feeling like I’m scraping up barely enough energy to do the things I have to do! I’ve already separated those two areas of life…need to do, and want to do….now I just want to practice having a little of both as my energy and stamina and time allow! Either will give me a sense of accomplishment, but the activities in the want to do category will use my creative and artistic capabilities more. And that’s an entirely different sense of accomplishment! One I’m looking forward to!

I wish everyone a good word for 2017, with loads of positive and fun things coming out of your choices! And I thank Donna for giving us this idea to focus on a word for the coming year…and see how much we can gain!

Just a note…my dictionary re: discipline, talks of training and learning, besides education and to accustom to order! It also says discipline is a method of regulating principles and practice! I like that one…taking the regulated principles of my life with pain and practicing living fully within in day!! I’m thinking we all do a little of this, yet this is my year to focus on doing this fully…and well!

And I just had to peek at the word heal….coming from the root for hale, sound, also meaning whole!! Further… to reconcile and restore! Quite a worthy goal, too, I’d say!!

Maureen Muck

My word for 2017 is hope. I even found a beaded necklace with a silver heart, engraved with the word hope. The pain in each of my conditions is worse in the winter (I live in the Northeast U.S.) But,hope can always remind and inspire. It helps me to not beat myself up, but remember that hope will always give me a reason to continue.


My word for this year would be restart. We are planning a major move in April from Fairbanks Alaska to Klamath Falls Oregon. This move is for our health, both physical and emotional well-being.
About fifty years ago I made the only New Year resolution I ever kept which was to never make another new year resolution lol


Donna, Happy New Year to you and yours!
Great post and subject! Great goal!
Focusing on ‘healing’ is just the path I put myself a few months ago and will continue it in 2017… I’ve only just begun!
Although, it all came out of frustration with my current care (the positive out of the negative!). :~)
Given the situation with the gov’t ruling pain docs and us patients, little or no conversations with my doc, lots of trials and errors due to poor treatment along many years, learning a lot of lessons along these years of surgeries and many treatments, etc…
I decided to personally try adding more organic ways to my treatment in regard to: ‘how can I work on healing physically and emotionally from it all?’ (if at all possible). I’ve researched the heck out of my spinal pain issues and I looked back into my medical records and reminded myself of all of the ups and downs I’ve been on since the auto accident that drastically changed my life in 2004.
I’ve added to my team a ‘Yoga Therapist’ who specializes in Chronic Pain (I can’t physically do much yoga poses anymore, I tried over and over) so we focus on meditation, different mudras and breathing exercises that all promote healing.
I’m back to taking short walks on days when I physically can and I recently began seeing a specialized massage therapist who does myofascia release on me (not sure how long I can afford it but I’m trying).
It’s amazing how that alone can help with releasing the tight muscles and tendons that add to my pain issues!
Considering my long standing condition…all of these will take time, effort and commitment, as well as patience, to hopefully and truly help in the long run but because of my condition…I have lots of time on my hands to ‘focus on me’ this year! And I deserve it! I live with ‘hope’ to get better, somehow,some way! 🙂
Keep up the great work and thanks again for your tips!!