How to Find This Year’s Theme

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A good friend of mine always chooses a theme for his coming year. He bases his theme choice on a combination of what he learned from his last year, what he hopes for the coming year, and the practical details of what’s ahead.

Back in college when he first told me about how he did this, I didn’t think too much of it. More recently, my friend Lacy from A Sacred Journey has been a consistent advocate for choosing a word (and all things related to intentional and spiritual living— see her post about her word for this year here). Over the years the idea has grown on me. Sometimes I’ve felt like I want a theme for my year but don’t know what it should be. Other years I haven’t felt the need for a theme. Still others it’s felt like there’s an obvious choice.

This year for me is the later. There’s one thing that is on my horizon. It’s as if everything that I’m pursuing passes through it.

But before I tell you what it is, I want to offer some ideas for you to think through as you consider what your theme might be.

How to Find This Year’s Theme:

1) Listen to your last year. Start by reflecting on what your last year was like. What went well? What didn’t go well? What goals did you achieve? What goals did you miss?

The best way to do this is with an Annual Review. You can download my free guide here, or get the updated version as part Operating Instructions (which will also help with the next step…).

2) Listen to your goals for the year. Next, reflect on what is ahead for you. What are your goals for this coming year? What are the ways that you need to grow, stretch, change, and risk to achieve those goals?

3) Listen to your commitments. Practically speaking, what will this year hold? We all have things that we don’t love to do, but we must do them. What are those for you this year?

4) Listen for themes. As you do this work, look for connections between all of these items. What are the themes you see emerging?

5) Choose a word that fits. Sometimes it’s more obvious than others, but the last step is simply choosing a word that connects to as many of these things as possible.

Sometimes the themes are overt and obvious. Other times they are much more subtle. The task is not to try to make everything fit perfectly into a single theme, but to try to find a word or phrase that broadly describes the movement that is both happening in your life and that you hope to see happen.

My theme for 2016

For me, this year is the year of relationships. What that means is that it’s a year about connecting with other people in the blog and online space.

It has felt like all things point to relationship for me. I’ve realized over the past year that the biggest wins for me in life and business come through relationships, and some of the best opportunities I’ve had came by way of someone I knew.

The Meaning Movement community also has been growing. I want to guide us well into what’s next for us. I’m at the point where I feel as though I need resources to help us continue to grow successfully.

It takes one set of skills to start something, and another set of skills to continue to grow something. I’m transitioning between those two. We’ve started well, and now it’s time enter a new phase. I have starting skills, but I’m less confident in the growing and sustaining skills. But I know that others can help me.

Do you have a theme for your year? If so, what is it? If not, what might it be if you had to pick one? Share in the comments.

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  1. Thanks for writing this, Dan! Enjoyed reading the steps. My small group is going to pick a word for our year this coming Friday, so this will be perfect to share with them!

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