Use Annual Themes to Get Past Limiting Resolutions

Several years ago, I abandoned the idea of New Year’s Resolutions and replaced it with the concept of an annual theme.

A theme has greater transformative power than a simple point solution. Moreover, you can’t really “fail” at a theme. You can grow more or less mindful of a theme as the year progresses, but it doesn’t set you up to disappoint yourself or beat yourself up over an unmet goal.

These thematic thoughts provide a touchstone through all the ups and downs of the year. Actions make more sense with reasons behind them. Think about previous years when you’ve tried resolutions, especially common resolutions like exercise, weight loss, quitting smoking. You can’t just get commitment off the shelf as a pre-packaged “product,” which is really what resolutions like that typically are.

If you didn’t succeed with your past resolutions, ask yourself whether you really anchored that goal on a deep reason – to perform better at work, to live longer and with greater health for your loved ones, to have more impact in the world around you. When you do have a deep reason, which you can keep in mind using an annual theme, you’ll do better with your goals.

You can use an annual theme in many more ways. A resolution typically only applies when the topic comes up, even if it comes up in your thoughts often. You can use your theme as a lens through which to look at many circumstances and situations. You can even use it as a mantra if you choose to meditate.

For 2019, my theme is “grow.” I appreciate the double meaning of personal and business growth and of cultivating in the world around me. A grower prepares the soil and plants seeds. A grower acts as a committed steward from green shoots to flowers and fruits. A grower pulls out weeds. A grower cares and cares for.

I can’t think of a more apt metaphor for the level of focus on priorities and outcomes that I intend to bring to the coming year.

What would you choose as your theme for the year?

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