Themes are short and meaningful collection of words meant to inspire and guide you throughout the year. About 10 years ago I gave up on new year resolutions and switched over to yearly themes. I created this idea on a whim – it is not based on any deep set of beliefs or intellectual framework. I just tried it out and found that my theme remained relevant to me during the entire year, offered me meaningful guidance in a wide-range of situations. In comparison, resolutions feel overly prescriptive and constricting, and often loose relevance quickly.
So here is how I put themes to action in my life.
The most important and difficult step has always been choosing a theme that is truly meaningful. This is not an easy task because it requires a good amount of introspection and soul searching. In other words, it requires that I devote time to myself – time to identify 5 to 10 theme candidates, and then time to let them germinate. The first month of the year is devoted to this process – I have I’ve skipped a few years because I did not carve out the time and effort required to choose the right theme.
For 2014 here is the short list of theme ideas that I have planted:
- Foundation / Roots
Once chosen my theme doesn’t stay on my mind all the time. It doesn’t even show up every day. That said, like a new plant I make sure that I water it with my conscious attention every couple of days, especially at the beginning of the year. I do this by finding creative ways to remind myself about my theme. I’ve created simple posters and hung them up in around my apartment. I’ve taken pictures of things that remind me of my theme. I’ve made calendar alerts and printed reminder cards that I keep in my wallet.
When thinking about my theme in relation to my life, my sensations, my emotions, my thoughts, my plans, and my actions, I don’t think in terms of right and wrong. My theme is not a ruler that I use to judge myself but rather it should function like a street sign pointing in a direction that I’ve identified as important. Judging myself for not walking in the appropriate direction will not help me start moving on the path I’ve chosen, it will only disempower me.
Ultimately, my theme is tool for personal commitment and empowerment. I’ll let you know when I choose my theme for 2014. If you find this idea interesting give it a try.