Way back in 1967, hippies gathered in San Francisco for their Summer of Love. But why just have one season of love? In 2014, I decided I wanted a whole year dedicated to love, so I chose this word as my ‘theme’ for 12 months.  

Whenever I faced a decision, big or small, I tried to think about how I could create the most love. Rather than dismissing a date as unnecessary hassle, I agreed to go because I hoped that maybe love would follow – and it did! We’re still together three years later. I realised that I didn’t have many pictures of the people I love so I began taking more photos of them, and looking through those snaps still makes me so happy. I also started listening to the little voice in my head that whispers ‘I’d love to do that’ and found myself having more adventures, however silly – like going on the Emirates Skyline cable car in London for no reason other than I’d always thought ‘I’d love to ride on that’.

I’ve already picked my buzzword for 2017: ‘no limits’ (ok fine that’s two words, but it’s allowed).

‘No limits’ challenges me to dream big, and not to assume that I can’t do something. Too often I restrict myself, worrying that I’m not clever enough or brave enough before I’ve even tried. This year is going to be different because rather than turning down an opportunity that might be difficult for me, such as taking on a new job or signing up to the next course (I’m trying to learn Italian), I can say to myself ‘No limits!’ and then at least give the challenge a go.

If I get a bit scared and don’t manage to follow my phrase all the time, it doesn’t matter. Not succeeding all of the time doesn’t make you a loser. The best part about having a theme for the year is that you can keep coming back to it – that’s why having a word of the year is so much better than a typical new year’s resolution. Resolutions tend to be specific, like ‘lose weight’ or ‘stop biting your nails’. This means that once your efforts have failed (usually by mid-January) then you feel you have to wait until next year to begin again. Not so with a buzzword: it can just inspire and guide your behaviour throughout the year. 

The other great thing about a word of the year is that it doesn’t expect you to be a different person. Lots of new year’s resolutions require us to change who we are, but trying overnight to become someone who doesn’t love chocolate will just make us feel rubbish about ourselves (and probably eat a whole heap of chocolate, tbh).  Buzzwords, on the other hand, allow us to be exactly who we are already but encourage us to strive after a new feeling, whether that’s braver or happier or calmer.

Maybe you’re feeling a lot of pressure because of exams and it’s making you stressed? A theme for 2017 could help you in different ways. If you went for ‘chill’, this could cover everything from treating yourself to ice cream when you’ve finished your homework, to having Netflix downtime every Sunday, to repeating the word to yourself before you enter the exam hall.  Or you might go in the opposite direction and pick ‘fun’, looking for ways to make revision more enjoyable (such as doing quizzes with friends), going to the funfair to bring out your inner kid, or practising nail art so your hands make you smile while you’re studying.

You might find your chosen buzzword comes up in other ways than you had expected, which makes it even more special and inspiring. Wondering how to pick your buzzword for the year ahead?  Here are three tips on choosing the right theme for you:

1. Love a song lyric or line from a film? If you find yourself repeating a phrase a lot, then that could be a big clue. In 2015, for instance, one Swiftie picked ‘Shake it off’ as the buzz phrase for her year. Who wouldn’t feel better channelling Taylor?

2. Is something big happening in your life this year? You could think about related words that might be helpful, like my exams example.

3. How would you like to feel in 2017?  This is a great way to find the best word for yourself. Maybe you want to feel less stressed (how about ‘relax’?) or maybe you want to take something more seriously (how about ‘committed’?).

Once you’ve picked your word, go ahead and try to live it. Have a fun/love-filled/powerful/relaxing/limitless year.

@rae_ritchie_

Image: Getty

We’ve finally seen the end of what was, for loads of people, a long and hard year. It was all just A Bit Much. And while lots of us couldn’t wait to shut the door on 2016 and jump into 2017’s arms, the pressure of January is big and real. We’re talking about… *whispers* New Year’s Resolutions.

Why are we whispering? Well, we’re *looks around* hiding from having to make New Year’s Resolutions, of course. They’re scary, right? They mean commitment and looking 365 days ahead and expectations and pressure and… and… and… OH GOD LET’S JUST STAY IN 2016 INSTEAD.

And breathe. No. New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to be scary at all. They’re just a chance to make you and your life that little teensy bit better. New years are about possibilities, excitement, and opportunities. So, instead of trying to think of grand, expensive, mind-bogglingly extravagant resolutions, how about you try some of these more simple, healthy, and achievable resolutions instead?

1. Drink more water

There are so many ‘rules’ dictating how much water you should drink, but let’s just all agree to drink MORE of the stuff in 2017. It’s healthy, prevents headaches, keeps you awake and lively, can do wonders for your skin, and helps keep your body and mind nice and regulated. And it’s literally on tap, so no excuses.

2. Explore more

Exploring doesn’t have to mean travelling the world. It can mean day trips to the seaside, exploring your own town, trying new foods, dabbling in new hobbies, and exploring yourself. Explore your own body, and your wants, loves, and needs. You don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to ‘find yourself’.

3. Keep yourself at number one

You can’t be a good friend without looking after yourself. In 2017, remember to stay at the top of your own priority list (here’s how). You’ll be a better friend, student, worker, and overall awesome human being if you’ve got yourself in tip top shape.

4. Not worry what others think

The most important opinion in your life is YOURS, as you are (newsflash) the one living it. It can be so easy to get caught up in what others think about you and your life choices, but does it affect them? Probably not. Can they be a better you than you can be? Nope. Do they know your life better than you? No. You do you, and let them do them.

5. Banish unhealthy friendships and throw yourself into GREAT friendships

You may not be able to make toxic friends disappear, but you can certainly learn to accept an unhealthy friendship. That doesn’t mean just getting on with it, but it means not letting them get to you anymore. 

Then have a think about what makes a good friend to you, and LOVE THOSE FRIENDS WITH ALL YOUR MIGHT AND DON’T LET THEM GO.

6. Have goals but enjoy the experience

Having goals is so great. They keep you determined, motivated, and bettering yourself. But don’t forget to enjoy the journey. Draining yourself to achieve a goal won’t make it enjoyable. You’ll end up a tick list and you’re way more than that.

7. Stop putting so much pressure on yourself, ‘kay?

And if you don’t achieve a goal, that’s ok! You’re not a failure! If you tried, that’s more than enough. Putting too much pressure on yourself takes all the fun out of resolutions – and of life, tbh. 

Anyway, you shouldn’t need a new year to want to do exciting, achievable, healthy, and self-bettering stuff. You should want to do it anyway, because you deserve to have nice things and be the best version of you that you can be.

So create your healthy resolutions with you in mind, not everybody else. You’re going to have the best year, alright? We say so.

@louisejonesetc