A lot of people set goals for each new year, but for some people, this process is too linear to be practical. Choosing a theme may be a more productive alternative for you. For it to work the way it's supposed to, however, you must give careful consideration to choosing your word. These four steps can help you identify the perfect word to guide your growth in the upcoming year.
You may have quite a few areas of your life that could use some more focus. Putting them all down on paper first lets you identify overall patterns. To brainstorm possible themes for the year, ask yourself a few questions:
- What do you value most right now?
- What do you want more of in your life?
- What would you like to learn?
- What topics do you think about most often?
- How do you want to feel every day?
Take your time with each question. Write down every word that comes to mind. Soon, you'll have a list of words that describe the kind of year you want to have.
To hone your focus, you need to narrow your list. Start by grouping words with similar meanings. The purpose of this step is to link the words you've chosen to the needs or desires you might have. For example, if you have listed "peace," "calm," "rest" and "relax," those words can all go in one group. Such a grouping reveals that you would like to create more space in your life for free time or a bit of stress relief. When you have all your words grouped with similar ones, you can choose the particular area where you want to focus. This helps you narrow your selection.
At this point, you may find that none of the words in the group you've chosen particularly stick out to you. That doesn't necessarily mean you're on the wrong path. Search each word and read the official definitions to get a clearer perspective on the nuances of each. During this process, you may find a synonym that more thoroughly sums up your intentions for the year, and that may end up being your theme word. Another way to choose a word from the group is to search for famous quotes that contain each word. After all, you may need a mantra to memorize, so the more quotes you find that speak to your hopes, the more likely you are to enjoy that word as a theme.
The final test is your excitement to make a plan for how to pursue the theme. This can distinguish between those words to which you can reasonably commit a whole year to pursue and those for which you merely have a passing interest. If you are enthusiastic about the word, start making a plan for how you are going to explore the theme it represents. For example, if you are a reader, look for books that include your theme word in the title or are written about it as a general topic. Search online for tips on ways to incorporate more of your word in your life. If you have a therapist or a spiritual advisor, talk to him or her about ways you can use the word in your development.
Setting specific goals may be the best plan for approaching the new year for some people, but others thrive with a plan that offers more fluid pursuits. When you choose a theme word for the year, you open yourself to learning everything it has to teach you.