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Happy New Year - Martha Carr

It's time for my fourth annual New Year's Day tradition where my readers and I get to drop the need to set up contests with ourselves, and, instead, take a kinder, gentler approach. No more New Year's resolutions with very specific goals, like losing weight or keeping our finances balanced, that have an easy-to-spot pass or fail tag.

The idea of a clearly defined outcome sounds really desirable in some ways. We know when we're on track and when we've slipped off, and are back in that familiar deep rut. However, the whole plan is designed for failure, even if you get to the goal.

It's the old idea of reaching toward perfection and then figuring out that was a little hard and choosing to do nothing at all instead. Or, occasionally, we even get to that perfect weight and realize nothing else in our life has changed. It wasn't the answer to everything after all.

There's a big wallop of disappointment in the entire approach and the reason so many of us yo-yo on the scale and in our bank accounts or relationships.

There is a different way, and it can turn out to be more life-changing than expected, and even fun.

We each choose a word for the year that we can keep in mind as we go about our lives. My word for last year was balance and I've been able to bring a sense of balance into all the areas of my life. There's far less frantic action and more focus. Readers have reported they chose words like peaceful, fun or humor.

Choose the word that really resonates with you and keep it in mind when old situations arise that normally have you stymied.

Some readers have even gotten a group together on New Year's Day to pick out the new word and talk about what they hope the essence of the word will bring into their life.

The meaning we bring to our word makes all the difference in the way we see our life. Some of the beauty of this approach has always been that the definition changes as we open up to the possibilities throughout the year.

My new word for 2010 is abundance, with a twist.

My old approach was to see abundance as whatever came into my life that I defined as good. It was particularly good if it was a surprise and required very little work. However, that definition left me attached to the outcome and made it difficult to be present in the moment. I was always wondering how I could help create what I wanted, which led to a lot of manipulation, late nights overworking and way too much focus on myself.

So, the twist is for me to come at this from a completely different angle. I will keep my attention on being of service to others this time, and off of myself. Instead, I am carrying around with me the idea that abundance will find me anyway. No heavy-handed actions on my part to try and ensure that I get what I want when I want it. That's all replaced with the belief that all is well and abundance is already mine. I can stop worrying about me and what I hope to create.

Frankly, that's never really worked, anyway, and when I've relaxed, or more likely, have given up and have been able to appreciate where I am and who I'm with, marvelous things took shape. The biggest reward has been that my general sense of gratitude has grown and, therefore, my sense of well-being, no matter what's happening.

Write in again this year with how last year went and what the new words are for 2010. And, as a New Year's gift to everyone, go to www.MarthaRandolphCarr.com, and you can download the eBook, "Live Your Big Adventure." It's free and there are no hidden strings of any kind. I'm getting started on my new word a little early and sharing the feeling of abundance with all of you while trying to be of service. Happy New Year everyone!

Martha's column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons Inc., newspaper syndicate. Her latest book is the memoir, "A Place to Call Home." E-mail Martha at: Martha@caglecartoons.com.