Redefine These 9 Words in 2016 to Redefine Yourself

I’m not planning on making traditional New Year’s resolutions this year. I’m taking a more subtle (but I’m hoping more effective), approach to starting 2016 right: redefining certain words for myself. Words that point to big, lofty, important concepts. Words that are totally subjective and I feel just warrant a totally personal definition from person to person.

This small outlook-changing move is more inspiring and realistic than kicking coffee or beer or Witches of East End binges (stopping any of this at any time soon ain’t happening, really), and it could actually help a lot in an effort to, as my homegirl Brene Brown says, live authentically. That’s what we all want, right?

One word is success. Coming up with the right definition of success is totally key, I think, to keeping a big-picture perspective and focus day-to-day. My favourite definition is Maya Angelou’s: “Success is liking yourself, liking what you do and liking how you do it.” This takes the hugeness out of it and takes it into the realm of day-to-day decisions — which is really the only way to be successful at anything.

Another word is work. There are so many different kinds of work we do in a day. We work to maintain our friendships. We work on our fitness. We work to be good writers, good managers, good baristas — whatever we do everyday. But what kind of work do I want — or need — to do more of in 2016, really? I want to be clear on that, too.

Adventure. Robinson Crusoe, or Alice in Wonderland? All-inclusive resort? Or WOOFing in Chile? What’s an adventure to me and how soon can I go on one in 2016? Relaxing. Creating the energy of relaxation takes work, and it takes time to master, but it’s worth it. And one person’s relaxation tip might well be another person’s torture.

It’s the same with romance. Relationships. Networking. Need. Want … getting clear on what these kinds of mega, prescriptive, words mean to me, strikes me as the straight-up most empowering thing I can do as an individual on the brink of a new year. Rather than take someone else’s idea of a shift I can make in 2016 to make my life better (whether it’s about my diet, my career goals, my meditation practice, whatever), I want to make the executive decision to own my own perspective, and my own prescriptions.

Ultimately the best life changes start with reclaiming words and turning definitions on their heads. My favourite example: the Riot Grrrl movement, which turned words with oppressive connotations into something personal and new (ie – Slut Walk, the F-word in general). This empowered individuals and ultimately, changed the way society saw people. It all started essentially with individuals and groups of creative-thinking gals reclaiming words that had definitions that just didn’t work for them.

So! On that note, get some of your loving, like-minded friends together this new year and get down and dirty with some definition changes that need to happen in your lives. Or just do it alone. But do it. Because you don’t have to live your life based on what Webster — or anyone else — thinks.

Tags: words to redefine yourself

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