New Year Themes For Progress & Growth.
New Year Themes.
More simple and more effective than resolutions.
Picking a few well chosen themes for your year can have a big impact on your output and satisfaction.
As the year changes from one to the next, traditional resolutions see people set goals and promises for how they will live better or be better next year. I don’t think that this is a very useful way to see your self or your life, as it implies, fundamentally, that you are somehow flawed and must do better. A few years ago, the concept of new years themes entered my awareness, I found this to be a much more gentle, but impactful practice. They are easier to remember on the fly in real life, hold less inherent judgment, and are more enjoyable to integrate into one’s life. I have found them to be a positive addition to my annual end of year ritual.
So what is a new year theme?
A theme is one or two words that embody, for you, an entire concept. It could be a concept or quality that you wish to weave into the fabric of your life, grow to embody, or adopt as a practice. Due to it being only one or two words, you can easily remember, in real time and contexts. It can be used to guide behaviour, thought processes, interactions etc. I adopted this practice a few years ago, and have been impressed enough with its usefulness that I have made it a permanent feature.
When I first trialed themes, I was a bit overwhelmed with workload. I struggled trusting my team with many aspects of our work and found letting go of control a challenge. This was bad for my health, company progression, team progression and a bottleneck for the business. I made my theme “delegate” for the first quarter of the nest year as an experiment. Each time I found myself in a situation where I held on too much, or felt bogged down with work, I recalled, the theme “delegate”. As a result, I finished that year with less on my plate, a team that felt more trusted and a better daily work life.
In subsequent years I’ve used the following themes to the these effects:
“Slack” helped me stop overloading my schedule and workload, reducing self imposed stress and missed deadlines.
“Example” helped me stay on track with my own training and health, leading by example and trying to embody the principles I teach.
“Buffalo” helped me distinguish between “big game” projects that promised a high return and were worthy of great effort, V’s “field mice” projects that took up more energy & resources than they were worth. This had the second order consequence of preventing me from stretching myself too thinly.
Why It Works & Implementation.
The key to this practice’s usefulness is the ease with which it can be recalled and utilised in real life. It punches above its weight, as one word can bring back an entire nuanced concept.
I have found that some effort is warranted in deciding which theme to settle on, as the potency of the practice is rooted in correct aiming. I imagine a poorly chosen theme could hinder as easily as a good one can help. As such, I use the following simple process to help me decide.
Make a mind map of all your potential themes. (Mindnode is an excellent app for this). I like to think of some themes based on my assets, or strengths and some based on my limiting factors. Then I think of a few based on aspirations, and some on non judgemental observations from the last year. I usually limit to 1 – 3 themes for at least the first quarter of a new year, because any more detracts from the ease of the system. I usually review every 90 days or so to check results, making adjustments as necessary.
If you have health goals for the new year, take a look at our Thriving Health Scorecard. It can offer an impartial appraisal of how healthy your way of life is, and could provide valuable insights.
Quality coaching can help greatly in achieving great results. You can enquire here to start a conversation around us working with you.
By Pete Edwards.