Goodbye 2015, Hello 2016: Defining your Theme for the New Year

Themes for the new year

So for me the theme for 2013 was the year of BOLD DECISIONS; 2014 was FOLLOW-THROUGH; 2015 was BEING ACTIVE. And now, the theme for 2016 is …. [drum roll please!] … EXTERNALLY FOCUSED.

Wow, how sexy does that sound?

The background for this is, unsurprisingly, that I feel like I’ve been pretty internally focused for some time now. Before and after I first decided to quit my job two years ago I of course did a lot of soul searching, reading, thinking, pondering the meaning of life… More recently, I’ve been working hard to launch two new businesses, spending a lot of time on the websites, on creating ebooks, writing blog posts, and so on. It’s not that all these things aren’t important, but there comes a point when you need to shift your focus outwards.

More concretely, I’ve already started by reducing my blogging frequency on my main site from twice to once per week. In fact, I’ve seen the advice that you should apply the 80/20 rule to your blog posting: spend 20% of your time creating your content and 80% promoting it. Rather than spitting out post after post that no one’s ever going to see, it’s much more effective to write a smaller number of quality posts and then make sure that people actually read them and can benefit from them. Beyond blog posting on my own site, this will also mean doing more guest posts on other people’s sites, focusing more on PR, getting more speaking engagements, running workshops, and so on.

The theme applies to my personal life as well. I’m very good at sitting at Starbucks working away by myself at my laptop! I have also been pretty good this year at saying ‘yes’ to adventure. I’ll definitely continue doing this next year, saying yes more to new experiences, more random meet-ups, more dates…

So here’s to a year of being externally focused!

How can you define your own theme?

To be honest, part of the reason I like this approach – instead of writing long lists of New Year’s resolutions – is that the theme tends to just come to me. It emerges organically from developments in the past year, from what’s been missing and what I’m hoping to achieve in the coming year.

A number of people have asked me how to come up with their own theme, but I’m afraid I can’t really define specific steps for this. The beauty of the theme approach lies precisely in its simplicity and in an instinctive feeling for what is right for this coming year.

One thing that can help you if you’re stuck is to take some time to reflect on the year that’s just ended. Specifically you can ask yourself: What’s gone well? What’s been missing? What do you think you need more of next year? What do you need less of?

So for example if you’ve had a chaotic year that’s been a bit all over the place with lots of things going on, you might choose FOCUS as your new theme. If you’ve been working on starting something new that’s now just about up and running, maybe the theme can be CONSOLIDATION.

Something else you can do is use the Wheel of Life to see which areas of your life need more attention and see if you can come up with a theme for one of those areas.

Here are some ideas of themes to get you going:

FOCUS
CONSOLIDATION
INDEPENDENCE
CONSISTENCY
ADVENTURE
STRENGTH
ACTION
PERSEVERANCE
VULNERABILITY
LETTING GO

Let me know how you get on. Oh, and Happy New Year!

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