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New Year, New Theme

Did you make New Year’s resolutions?

“How many Americans will make a New Year’s resolution? An estimated 188.9 million adult Americans (74.02% of the population) say they’re determined to learn something new, make a lifestyle change or set a personal goal in an effort to better themselves in 2021, a 15.17% increase from the previous year. The top six categories…relate to money, health, career, self-improvement, family, and love” (Finder).

If you’re a realist like me, you’re already scoffing. We all know the majority of New Year’s resolutions fail. According to Inc.com, “Approximately 80 percent of people who make New Year’s resolutions have dropped them by the second week of February.” 

That’s a bit disheartening to say the least.

Growing up, I consistently made New Year’s resolutions. It’s a bit humorous to look back on my old resolutions from when I was as young as 13 and 14 years old.

Some of my old resolutions included learning new vocabulary words from the game Balderdash, standing up straighter, memorizing poetry, exercising, learning morse code, writing and reading every day, and many, many more. I got very carried away with resolutions, one year making a whopping 34 of them (I was 14)! I wish I could pat 14-year-old me on the head and say, “You’ll fail, but at least you had good intentions.”

(On a side note, I can see that over the last 8-9 years at least, my overarching goals and interests have remained very similar. Themes like writing, reading, learning new skills, and politics are mentioned in almost all my goals and resolutions. Interestingly enough, each of these interests are very much a part of my daily recreational and working life.)

What works?

woman readingSo if New Year’s resolutions don’t work, what does? I’m trying something new this year. Rather than 34 resolutions, I have one theme.

My overarching theme is “Decision.” 2021 is my Year of Decision.

As a chronic indecisive, second-guessing, over-analyzer, I need more confident decision-making in my life and less second-guessing. I’ve mapped out what I want my Year of Decision to look like for me personally and I’ve included points that I want to be reminded of along the way.

A theme is an overarching direction or general focus for your year (or season, or week, or day). For example, rather than resolving to exercise 30-minutes a day, five days a week, or stop eating junk food, you could instead choose a theme of “Health.”

Now if you miss one of your workout sessions or eat a donut, your resolution doesn’t immediately go flying out the window. According to the writer Sam Spurlin, your yearly theme should be “a guiding statement or phrase that can help you make decisions across many different situations and scenarios.” 

When you reach a crossroads in your day, you can refer to your theme for direction. You have 30 minutes before your next meeting? Your Year of Health might suggest you take a walk, sit for a moment and reflect on your day, or drink a glass of water. You get to decide how your yearly theme is implemented on a daily basis. There is no guilt for “breaking” a resolution three weeks after making it.

Your theme should resonate with you.

write yearly themeWhen choosing your theme, it’s important to pick something that resonates with you. It should sound and feel right. It should make sense to you. Here are a few ideas: Year of Reading, Year of Learning, Year of New, Year of Connection, Year of Less, Year of More, Year of Passion, Year of Service. It might be helpful to make a few notes about what your theme means to you. How do you want it to add focus to your life.

A yearly theme is about creating direction and focus, not strict rules or resolutions. We’re all on this journey of life and self-improvement together. Best of luck, and happy 2021.


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