New Year, New Word: Why Choosing a Theme for The Year Ahead Helps Fulfill Your Dreams

  • By Jennifer Mulder
  • 31 December 2018
  • 3 minute read
New Year, New Word: Why Choosing a Theme for The Year Ahead Helps Fulfill Your Dreams | The Health Sessions

Do you like to make New Year’s resolutions?

When you’re brimming with excitement for the upcoming year, everyone advises you to turn your dreams into SMART goals. Because if your plans are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound, you’re much more likely to achieve your goals.

But, as John Lennon famously said: “Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.” And when you live with chronic illness, life has even more unexpected twists and turns than the average person. With unpredictable health problems that can flare up at any time, it’s hard to make fixed plans. Because no matter how determined you are, you can’t stick to your schedule if you’re too sick to leave the house or require additional therapy and doctor’s appointments.

That’s where the idea of a theme for the new year comes in.

I first read about a theme for the year ahead in Chris Guillebeaus Annual Reviews.  The idea is that you chose a word or key phrase that encompasses the goals you’d like to pursue. What do you want your overall life to feel like over the next 365 days? Will you focus on your health or personal development? Or are you looking for more joy, love or acceptance in your life?

Having a theme word for the next year can help you find the right balance between vague dreams you never get around to and rigid plans you can’t stick to. It gives you a sense of direction but with enough flexibility to adjust your specific plans when your situation changes.

A theme also ties different goals and supporting habits together. For example, if your goal is to increase your fitness and energy levels so you’ll be able to go on the trip of a lifetime, skipping gym class for an early night’s sleep when you’re exhausted might actually be the right move instead of a ‘failure’.

The first time I choose a theme word was the year that my daughter was born. I had no way of knowing what my day-to-day life would be like after becoming a mom, so I ditched my standard resolutions for a theme. And it worked out wonderfully. I’ve had a theme for every year since then.

In 2018, my to-do list has grown immensely, but my body is having a hard time catching up energy-wise. Trying to think of solutions, I remembered the Pareto Principle. According to the Pareto Principle, 80% of your results comes from 20% of your efforts. That’s why I’ve tried to identify what matters most for my family, my business, my household and my own wellbeing – and focus on that next year. My theme for 2019 reflects that intention: Maximum Positive Impact. 

So how do you want the new year to feel? What will be your theme word for 2019? 

If you’d like to learn more about effortless goal setting, take a look at How You Can Still Pursue Your Goals and Dreams When You’re Chronically Ill.

I wish you all a loving and joyful new year, filled with magical moments and happy adventures! 

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