Last week, I shared my thoughts on resolutions and the importance of creating small, tangible acts that get you results. Building on this idea of moving from the big and lofty to the tangible and practical, I wanted to share my 2017 theme and an exercise I use to keep it present in my life. I think of resolutions as promises we make to ourselves, and usually, we know if we have kept them or not. Themes, on the other hand, are less about a promise and more about a path. For me, it’s an intention I set to guide how I live, work, and am over the course of the year. And hopefully, way beyond that year.
Unlike resolutions, themes are not binary. At times, I’ll be in perfect alignment with my theme, and at other times, I’ll veer completely off course. Because they're not binary, it’s pretty hard to feel like you’re failing and you can always steer back toward it. #winning
I actually think of themes as Waze, a navigation app that crowdsources traffic, roadblocks, and other obstacles. Waze even shares your trip with friends and updates them on how you’re doing. It’s a great app; I highly recommend it! Anyway, just like Waze, my theme guides my journey for the year and recognizes that I’ll have to make detours that are both in and out of my control. I’ll sometimes miss a turn, but my theme will guide me back toward my destination.
So, drum roll please....
My 2017 theme is…
Ok, I get it. This may seem bland, however, this is huge for me. And quite honestly it’s pretty big for most of the Type A people I know. We are trying to take on everything. And be the best at it. It’s crazy.
So, this year, I’m going to stop taking on the world and focus on what is most important - the things in my life that I care about the most. And I’m going to start saying no (politely, of course) more often.
I chose focus as my theme because being present has become more important than ever. As a Coach, I know I need to be 100% tuned into my clients and their challenges if I am going to support them in making meaningful changes. As a wife, I know that I have to be there - like really be there - when my husband is telling me about his day, and actually ask him questions that demonstrate that I’m listening and that I care. As a mom, I have to be on the ground, playing with my kids, getting dirty, and showing them that they’re more important than the text I just got from work. For the people in my life and for the joy I want to create, I need to be present. And that will come from genuine focus and prioritization of what is most important.
Ok, so as you know from my last post, I’m not one for big ideas with no action. So, here’s a little exercise I do to move from this nice idea of focus to actual, meaningful practice: the What, Why, How.
It starts with a journal.
Each night before I go to bed, I take 3 mins to write this out:
WHAT: [insert theme; for me, this is focus]
WHY: [insert 1 word that connects you to why you chose this theme; what’s so important about it; for me, this is presence]
Today I said no to ______
Today I said yes to _______
Tomorrow I will say no to _______
Tomorrow I will say yes to ______
Here’s an example of what I wrote in my journal last night:
It seems repetitive, but I promise it works and it keeps you grounded in what you want for yourself, why you want it, and what you’ve done and will do to get it.
I know what you’re thinking, "Every night?! Really? Is this just some way to make me feel bad about myself when I don’t do it?"
If every night is too much for you, then do it every week. Find what works for you. And if you’re too tired at night, do it in the morning. Set an alarm for mid-day. Whatever makes it stick for you. Maybe a post-it on your computer or nightstand (pun intended).
So, what's your 2017 theme and why did you choose it? And of course, how will you stick to it?