Beyond Resolutions

Creating a Theme for Your Year

Oh, the new year.

If you're seeing more calendars, planners and new year’s resolutions, you're not alone. There is a big productivity industry driving all kinds of ideas your way.

Do more. Have more. Be more, And 20% off our new planner!

Planning can be fun and productivity has its place. But if you're feeling overwhelmed, I want to help. I have an alternative you might enjoy.

But first I should come clean.

A Love of Planning

Before I tell you about an alternative to planning (and a book I love), you should know something. For about ten years, I brought a planner with me everywhere.

Anyone who knew me in middle school or high school knew I loved my planner. I started simple but as the years went on I got more ambitious and the planners became more intricate. They started harmless but grew to days planned in 15-minute increments. With stickers.

Then the Palm Pilot came out and you would have thought I died and went to heaven.

In college that little stylus helped me go to a whole other level. I did yearly reviews, I had Outlook and color-coded time boxes. It was a hobby for me. I was crazy about it.

Normal people went to... the mall? I don't know. I went to office supply stores. Office Depot. Staples. Office Max. I loved them all because they had planner sections, leather bags and yearly calendars.

And then my life took a turn.

It was the summer before my senior year of college. I was living in Costa Rica and I had a wonderful host family. During the week I volunteered in the national children's hospital and in my downtime I... planned, of course. I'd been preparing for a life as a medical school student and a doctor. I'd taken the MCAT (the med school test), completed all my classes, shadowed doctors for hundreds of hours, gotten nursing and EMT certifications and volunteered... a lot. The planner was smokin' hot.

And I brought a book with me. I can't tell you where or how I found the book. But in my free time I would read it and I loved it.

It came to me at an important time and made a big influence. I loosened up, relaxed on the planning and explored new paths that led me to Peace Corps. And that changed my life forever.

The book was Goal Free Living.

A Theme for Your Year

Goal Free Living has many wonderful ideas in it and I want to share one with you today. It's called a Theme for the Year. To hear more of the wonderful ideas from the book, see my interview with the author here. Stephen is great.

The idea is simple.

Instead of new year's resolutions, choose a theme you'd like to focus on this year. It could be a word, an idea, a value, or a principle. It could be a direction you want to go, something you want to reflect on, or a feeling you want to embody during the year. I've been doing this for 12 years now and you can see my themes here.

You can keep your theme private or share it with others. I didn't share my themes for years.

You might consider putting your theme up somewhere for you to remember. Like on the fridge, in your office, or on your computer or phone background. You can use it in your passwords, put it on your planner, or carry a token with you that reminds you of your theme. It's all up to you.

Whatever you do, you dedicate yourself to exploring that theme all year and then you see where it takes you.

It seems pretty simple, and it is. But I've found it quite liberating and life-changing.

You might too.

A Little More

If you'd like more resources, you're in luck. I've made a few videos and worksheets to complement the book and my interview with the author. You can find them here.

I hope you enjoy them!

Have a great, new year!