Forget Resolutions: 3 BIG reasons to Theme YOUR 2013

First, resolutions start from a place of failure. I didn’t do what I thought I’d do. And I promise to better this year. Does that sound empowering? NO. If you want to document those areas improvement as a way of moving forward, go for it.

But don’t call them resolutions. Call them “shifts.” You know why? The language we associate with these types of activities impacts our feeling and motivation towards them. And making a shift is FAR more motivating than resolving to avoid failure.

So if I don’t advocate resolutions, do I also forsake goal setting as well? Absolutely not. That’s a topic for a different blog post. It’s the beginning of the new year and I want you to focus on the BIG PICTURE.

And to really seize that opportunity, I want to share with an amazing exercise I began over 12 years ago.

I theme my years. Having a simple theme for the year is the best way I know how to help align ALL your activities towards one grand purpose. Then, at the end of each year, I reflect and ponder, “did I live my year true to my theme.”

Last year around this time, I published my theme for 2012. And before I share my theme for 2013, let me communicate a few key points just so we’re on the same page…

3 reasons

why theming YOUR year is a MUST do

I have tried just about every project management system under the sun. And the idea of having a theme for a year is not about processing to dos. A theme by its very nature is not that granular. It’s the 50,000 foot view. So often we get caught up in the micro we overlook the macro. Your theme for 2013 fills that void.

So here are 3 quick benefits for theming your year…

Reason #1: It keeps you out of overwhelm

Again, it is SO easy to get caught up in minutia that we lose sight of the big picture. A theme represents what you want your year to be about. It FORCES you to focus at a HIGH level.

Reason #2: It’s high level accountability

Sure, you can cross things off a list. But there is a HUGE difference between being efficient and being effective. Besides, having a theme FIRST will make sure you are working on the right list.

Reason #3: It’s about your life, not just your work

You are more than just your work. That’s why any theme must encompass these key areas in your life:

  • Personal
  • Professional
  • Spiritual

Now that you have the why on theming your year let’s about the how…

How to theme

your 2013 for optimal results

When you see my criteria for selecting a theme, you may think I’m being a tad strict. Trust me; I’ve done this for over a decade. In fact, this is the third blog post I’ve written on theming my years. You’ll find 2012 here  and here is where you can see my 2011 theme.  Feel free to reference those posts for more details and insights on the entire theming process.

To keep the ball rolling I’ve summarized some “theme my year” best practices for you…

  • The theme should be broad enough to cover ALL areas of your life, not just business (think business, personal and spiritual)
  • Make the theme short and sweet: 1-2 words MAX
  • The theme should be consistent with your values, mission and purpose

Now how about some examples? Last year my theme was…”The Year of Performance.” Past years have seen “the year of growth” and “the year of transformation” and “the year of adventure.” Notice anything they have in common. Each them is only ONE WORD. That’s because simple = powerful when it comes to theming your year.

My Theme

Scorecard for 2012: how did I do?

What makes the theme process so incredibly valuable are many things: the focus, the fun but also the accountability.  So it’s only fair…if I ask you to theme YOURyear the least I can do is share where I succeeded and where I fell short with my 2012 theme.

So here is my 2012 Theme Scorecard…

Theme: “The Year of Performance”

Evidence I lived my “performance” theme:

  • Business:
    • Launched 4 new websites and re-launched my corporate site
    • Spoke on three different continents and greatly improved my stage presence
    • Made some amazing JV connections that will yield serious revenue for years
  • Personal:
    • Went beyond what I thought were my limits in dealing with 4 different surgeries
    • Spent more quality time with my wife and performed better as a husband
    • Lost over 20 pounds
    • Took on a leadership role in dealing with my parents’ health issues
  • Spiritual:
    • Reconnected with God and began daily prayers
    • Began attending church and tithing regularly

Now did I fall short in some areas? Yes. For example, I wanted to improve the performance of some of my sales funnels. That’s still in process. I wanted to implement some consistent exercise regimens. And there were other performance targets missed.

And yet I can say that I lived my theme in all areas of my life. And having the theme as a reminder, catalyst and target makes it all the more enjoyable.

My theme

for 2013 is…

Before I share my theme here’s a BONUS reason for theming your years. Sometimes your theme just comes to you without any serious thinking or reflection. That’s how it happened to me for 2013. Here it is…

2013: “The Year of Rebirth”

In past years, I’ve gotten away from some work activities  that make me the most happy. So I am recommitting to adding those elements back into my life. For one, it’s travel. I become a new person when I travel (for recreation) and it’s time to reconnect with that person again.

With business, rebirth will take the form in focusing on what I enjoy most: the idea and story rather than the more production-oriented elements. I’ll also get back in front of the camera again for a number of different projects.

On the spiritual, side I will reconnect with some spiritual practices (like meditation) that I have been inconsistent with in the past year.

So that’s the theme your year concept in a 1000+ word nutshell.  This post was written with the hope you’ll add the theme approach to your life. And that leads me to this…

Please SHARE and comment: what’s your theme for 2013? And how will you manifest it fully?

Marc Harty is an online publicity expert, professional speaker, Internet marketing consultant and CEO of MainTopic Media, Inc. Marc’s Online PR Made Easy can help anyone at any skill level generate targeted web site traffic on autopilot.

  • Jagger

    Great post thanks Marc,  while i have many goals for 2013 I love the idea of “theming” your year.  2013 is now officially the “Year of Performance” for me.

  • Good content Marc, thanks for writing this article. 2013 for me will be the “Year of ReGrowth” I’ve been planting many seeds over the last 4 years and I hope to reap the rewards this year.

  • Sally

    Great post, Marc – thank you so much!  I’ve been using a bit of a different twist on your Theme for the Year by choosing my Word for the Year — for about 8 years now.  It covers all the areas you mention and I find that by checking in with my “word” frequently I stay on track with all the other wants/needs I had in mind to start with!  May your New Year be filled with blessings of all the good things life offers!

  • rbarnesdotcom

    Marc, This seems like a powerful idea.  I think you’ve laid it out clearly and made the whole concept irresistible.  My theme gelled before I even got to the end, and 2013 will be a year of FOCUS for me.  I’ve been doing everything for everyone and trying to consume the entire internet for far too long. I’m putting a little sticker: “2013- The Year of Focus” on my computer and my dashboard and my laptop right now. 

  •  Randy,

    Really happy you found value with the theming concept. And you gave me an idea…maybe I should create some stickers on zazzle to make the theme concept more tangible?

    I look forward to doing an end-of-year post to see how your FOCUS was for the year.

    ~ Marc

  •  Sally,

    It sounds like you are getting the same benefits with your “word” concept that I’m doing with the theme concept. So you have me curious…what is your WORD for 2013?

    ~ Marc

  •  Earl,

    I appreciate you posting your theme here with everything you’ve got going on. I look forward to measuring our theme progress and the year unfolds.

    ~ Marc

  •  Jagger,

    You picked a good one! That was my theme for 2012 and it really helped me focus and prioritize. Keep me posted on the year unfolds for you, ok?

    ~ Marc

  • Marc, 
    Great idea.  I worked with this last year and it certainly helped to keep me on track.  Amazing the number of times I’d be considering a decision and the thought of my theme would pop into my head!
    This year is pretty easy.  After 27 years I’m moving back to the UK from Australia so it’s “Regeneration” (of pretty much everything!). 
    Thanks again for the post and the other great resources on the site.

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