Annual theme

annual theme

In last week’s post, I outlined the process for making my own annual review, covering three different elements: (1) my annual theme, (2) my Wheel of Life and (3) my specific goals. Now it’s onwards to planning for 2017, and I’m starting to think about my new theme. In past years this has been a spontaneous choice on New Year’s Day but people have been asking me for tips so I thought I’d try to break down the process into something a bit more systematic!

First, though, why even bother with a theme in the first place?

Well, traditionally of course people set New Year’s resolutions. As few as 8% of the people who write resolutions actually achieve them – and that’s in spite of the fact that writing down your goals can greatly increase your changes of achieving them! So it doesn’t seem like a particularly useful exercise…

But having no goals at all doesn’t seem especially useful either, as you’re liable to just float along and miss out on your long-term ambitions in particular, your big dreams, that won’t happen unless you really bring some intentionality to the process.

A few years ago, I came across the idea of defining a theme instead of setting those more traditional resolutions, and it instantly appealed to me. For me, the benefit of having a theme is that it gives you an overall framework and focus for the year – without the rigidity (or, somewhat contradictorily, the vagueness) of long lists of New Year’s resolutions.

The theme guides your choices when you have to make a decision between different priorities, and the added focus on an otherwise neglected area is going to ensure that you see progress by the end of the year – much more so than if you set a resolution to “lose weight” or “get fit”.

So what kind of themes are we talking about?

It’s really completely up to you and that’s what makes it so flexible. It’s also why I’ve favoured a more spontaneous and instinctual approach to coming up with a theme these past few years. Somehow you get a general feel for what’s been missing in the past year, and what you could do with having more of in the coming year – and that’s probably going to be the perfect theme for you.

As an example, in the past I had FOLLOW-THROUGH as a theme: I had made big decisions about quitting my job, leaving behind my friends in Geneva, and starting my own business, and now was the time to follow through on my big ideas and to begin to consolidate those ideas and properly implement them.

Another year, I had BEING ACTIVE as a theme. This was a more personal theme, and reflected my realisation that my health and wellbeing was really fundamental to everything else in my life working well. It gave me a focus that drove choices I wouldn’t normally have made, working with a personal trainer and later a running coach, and joining more physical adventures like dog sledding, kayaking and paddle boarding.

Okay, so what’s the process?

As I said, I’ve tended to favour a very organic, last-minute approach these past few years! But this year I did my annual review well in advance and so I have given myself more time to reflect and really think about what might be a good focus for next year.

In fact, a tool I’d suggest that you use to brainstorm your own focus is MIND MAPPING. I’m not a hugely visual person and I tend to be more of a writer than an artist but I do think this particular tool is a great way to capture your ideas in a structured yet flexible way, and to help you to identify possible priority areas.

You can do this freehand and I’d probably recommend that, at least for the actual brainstorming part – my mind definitely works much better when I’m writing by hand than if I’m typing! You can also find free tools online if you want to make it look a bit more presentable and keep it for future reference, for example, or *Edit: Canva now has a new set of free bubble-map templates available as well.*

mindmapI’d start by simply letting your mind, and hand, flow freely; but if you’re really stuck then how about mapping out a few different areas of your life: business and career, family and friends, health and wellbeing… and that might help you to structure your thinking and spark some ideas for themes that will help to shift your focus in the coming year.

With each theme, and each keyword, try to dig deeper and take it to the next level: what is it exactly that you’re missing here? What is it that you think would be most powerful in making a shift this coming year? What will most clearly guide your choices and your actions in 2017?

Having just done the exercise myself, I have a few ideas at the moment for my 2017 theme. This past year or so has been about establishing my businesses and so I feel a need now for more consolidation, growth and scale, reaching more people and making more of an impact. Looking at the most powerful words in the map, my ideas for a new theme now include PROACTIVITY, INTENTIONALITY and CONSISTENCY – all stemming from gaps I’ve identified in the past year in these areas.

We’ll just have to see what I eventually settle on in a few weeks’ time when the clock strikes twelve!

In next week’s post: setting specific GOALS.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

You might also be interested in these articles

“Everything you’ve ever
wanted is one step outside
your comfort zone.”

Book a free consultation

Get on the phone with Anna to discuss your unique goals and situation to determine the best programme for you, so you can start taking action towards creating the business and lifestyle you desire.

Explore a broader definition of success

Download this free assessment to consider what ‘success’ means to you across different areas of your life, evaluate where you are today, and prioritise the right goals to get you to where you want to be.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Explore a broader definition of success

Download this free assessment to consider what ‘success’ means to you across different areas of your life, evaluate where you are today, and prioritise the right goals to get you to where you want to be.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Download the brochure

Find out more about our flagship mentoring programme for experienced professionals who want to translate their skills and experience into a profitable business that brings them more freedom, flexibility, and fulfilment.

We will use and protect your data in accordance with our Privacy Policy.

Privacy Policy

This privacy policy sets out how One Step Outside uses and protects any information that you give One Step Outside when you use this website (

One Step Outside is committed to ensuring that your privacy is protected. Should we ask you to provide certain information by which you can be identified when using this website, then you can be assured that it will only be used in accordance with this privacy statement.

One Step Outside may change this policy from time to time by updating this page. You should check this page from time to time to ensure that you are happy with any changes.

What information we collect and why

We only ever collect the information that we need in order to serve you.

Generally, this just means collecting your first name and email address that you enter, for example, when you request a resource, register for a webinar, or submit a message via a contact form.

If you are a paying customer, we also collect your billing information including your last name and your postal address.


When visitors leave comments on the site we collect the data shown in the comments form, and also the visitor’s IP address and browser user agent string to help spam detection.

An anonymised string created from your email address (also called a hash) may be provided to the Gravatar service to see if you are using it. The Gravatar service privacy policy is available here: After approval of your comment, your profile picture is visible to the public in the context of your comment.

Contact forms

We use Gravity Forms to allow you to contact us via the website. We will use the information you submit for the sole purpose of that specific form and will explicitly ask you to provide your consent to allow us to do so.

Embedded content from other websites

Articles on this site may include embedded content (e.g. videos, images, articles, etc.). Embedded content from other websites behaves in the exact same way as if the visitor has visited the other website.

These websites may collect data about you, use cookies, embed additional third-party tracking, and monitor your interaction with that embedded content, including tracking your interaction with the embedded content if you have an account and are logged in to that website.

Advertising and Analytics


We use Google Analytics to track and optimise performance on this site as well as embedding video content from YouTube, and this means that your web browser automatically sends certain information to Google. This includes the URL of the page that you’re visiting and your IP address. Google may also set cookies on your browser or read cookies that are already there. Apps that use Google advertising services also share information with Google, such as the name of the app and a unique identifier for advertising.

Google uses the information shared by sites and apps to deliver our services, maintain and improve them, develop new services, measure the effectiveness of advertising, protect against fraud and abuse and personalise content and ads that you see on Google and on our partners’ sites and apps. See their Privacy Policy to learn more about how they process data for each of these purposes, and their Advertising page for more about Google ads, how your information is used in the context of advertising and how long Google stores this information.


We use the conversion tracking and custom audiences via the Facebook pixel on our website. This allows user behaviour to be tracked after they have been redirected to our website by clicking on a Facebook ad and enables us to measure the effectiveness of our Facebook ads. The data collected in this way is anonymous to us, i.e. we do not see the personal data of individual users. However, this data is stored and processed by Facebook, who may link this information to your Facebook account and also use it for its own promotional purposes, in accordance with Facebook’s Data Usage Policy

You can allow Facebook and its partners to place ads on and off Facebook. A cookie may also be stored on your computer for these purposes. You can revoke your permission directly on Facebook here: For more guidance on opting out you can also consult

Who we share your data with

We use a number of third parties to provide us with services which are necessary to run our business or to assist us with running our business and who process your information for us on our behalf. These include a hosting and email provider (Siteground), mailing list provider (GetResponse), and a payment provider (Stripe).

Your information will be shared with these service providers only where necessary to enable us to run our business.

How long we maintain your data

If you leave a comment, the comment and its metadata are retained indefinitely. This is so we can recognise and approve any follow-up comments automatically instead of holding them in a moderation queue.

For users that register on our website, we also store the personal information they provide in their user profile. All users can see, edit, or delete their personal information at any time (except they cannot change their username). Website administrators can also see and edit that information.

The main reason for collecting this information is to be able to send you resources, updates and, sometimes, information and products and services, as well as for internal record keeping.

The rights you have over your data

If you have an account on this site, or have left comments, you can request to receive an exported file of the personal data we hold about you, including any data you have provided to us. You can also request that we erase any personal data we hold about you. This does not include any data we are obliged to keep for administrative, legal, or security purposes.

How we protect your data

We are committed to ensuring that your information is secure.

Where we have given you (or where you have chosen) a password that lets you access certain parts of our site, you are responsible for keeping this password confidential and we ask you not to share a password with anyone.

Unfortunately, the transmission of information via the internet is not completely secure. Although we will do our best to protect your personal data, we cannot guarantee the security of your data transmitted to our site; any transmission is at your own risk. Once we have received your information, we will use strict procedures and security features to try to prevent unauthorised access.

Links to other websites

Our website contains links to other websites. This privacy policy only applies to this website so once you have used these links to leave our site, you should note that we do not have any control over that other website. You should exercise caution and look at the privacy statement applicable to the website in question.

Changes to our privacy policy

We keep our privacy policy under regular review. Initially created on 18th November 2016, it was last updated on 23rd May 2018 to be compliant with GDPR.

Contact information

If you have any questions or concerns related to your privacy, you can get in touch here >>