There’s lots of pressure in January to set New Year’s resolutions.  Most are made to change habits such as I will lose weight, I will exercise daily, I will declutter the house, etc.  For most of us, there is more than one habit we want to address.  Resolutions require us to make the changes using our willpower.  Unfortunately, it’s not long before most people have fallen off track and back into their old familiar patterns.

This year, instead of trying to ‘will’ yourself to do something, how about picking a theme or word for the year?  Something that relates to your values and what you want to achieve and becomes a compass to make sure you’re moving in the right direction.

A theme will help you create the type of year you want to enjoy and help you make the right choices for you.  Instead of setting yourself up for failure, how about you decide, actively look for and experience how you want to be?

Start with last year

Ask yourself these questions to identify the patterns of the past year.  They will help you understand what you want to change or replicate in the future.

  • What went well last year?
  • What was missing?
  • What did I love about last year?

Imagine the year ahead

Close your eyes and think about where you want to be at the end of the year.

  • What do you want to have achieved?
  • What do you need to do in order to create that?
  • Who do you need to be to be the best you?
  • What are the most important things to you?
  • What are the values you want to live by?

Finding words to inspire you

Now you know where you want to move towards, what two or three words describe how you need to be in order to achieve what you want?  What elements will help to guide you through the year ahead and make sure you’re on track?  What is the wisest way for you to operate?

Close your eyes and make a note of the words that come to mind.  From them select the two or three that most clearly articulate what you want to feel.

As an example, my themes are:

Connection – I want to make time to connect with family and friends both in person and online and strengthen the bonds we have.

Imperfect action – I have some important projects coming up and I want to make sure I achieve them and don’t allow my ‘inner perfectionist’ to sabotage them.

Create your compass

Take your themes and write them down.  You want to create a reminder where you will see them regularly.  They can be a screen saver, a piece of artwork, reminders on your phone.  I have my words on post-it-notes next to my desk as a constant reminder.

Now each time you have a decision to make, ensure it fits with your theme.  By using them as your guide, you will make choices that fit with your values and who you want to be.  It’s also a great way to get your to-do list down to a manageable size as you can cross everything off that doesn’t fit with your theme.