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Forget Resolutions -- Craft a Life Theme Instead

It's like having a personal mission statement, updated annually

by Lisa Martin  |  3254 views  |  3 comments  |        Rate this now! 

Forget making New Year's resolutions. They rarely work because they are often based on "shoulds" isntead of the bigger picture of your life. What I've found does work is creating a life theme for the year ahead.

Your life theme will be your overriding intention or "big picture" focus for the upcoming months. It has an expiration date of December 31, when you'll get a chance to re-evaluate your direction. Having a life theme is like having a personal mission statement for your whole life, personal and professional, updated annually. A life theme works because it takes into consideration and connects all your intentions for the year in a succinct and powerful phrase that describes what you want to accomplish in all areas of your life and cements your main priorities with intended action.

Here are a few examples:

Discover Your Intentions. Perhaps, as you've explored who you are and what you want to create for your life, you've noticed that "Wellbeing" or "Wellness" comes up over and over again. Or maybe you've noticed more of a "Relationship" focus, or maybe the word "Passion" has tugged at your heart repeatedly, or you've focused on "Patience." These are all great themes for the upcoming year. Through your own personal discovery, you may recognize that you haven't made time in your life for many friends, that your networks are weak and that you'd like to have a social circle beyond your immediate family. Your life theme in this case could be "Connection." It may be you've realized that your life is far more filled with work and errands than with fun and play, and you want to fix that imbalance. Your life theme then could be "Energize." 

Feel the Magic. Base your theme on what you find joyful and what you want to accomplish both personally and professionally. Your theme needs to strike an emotional chord with you and bring a smile to your face when your say it. You must own it. You must feel your theme's magic. It must propel you forward. Take a few moments to reflect on the bigger picture vision you have for your life. What would you like to accomplish first? What will bring you joy and fulfillment with your work, your family, and your personal time? What is the essence of what you wish to experience in this upcoming year?

Brief is Best. When the phrase reveals itself to you, try to keep it to a maximum of five words. You will know when you've found the right phrase. Feel the power of these concise life themes: Let go. Rebuild. Move Forward. Growth and Independence. Balance and Follow-through. Connection. Stretch. Calm and Quiet.

About the Author

Author of Briefcase Moms: 10 Proven Practices to Balance Working Mothers’ Lives, Lisa Martin is a sought-after expert and speaker on work-life balance issues.

Read more by Lisa Martin

3 comments so far...

  • Great article! I'm all about "lifestyle changes" not resolutions, diets, or failed short-term plans. Thanks for the great tips!

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by amcmoore on 15th January 2008

  • I really like your outlook on life, Lisa. Thanks for sharing this article with us. I guess my problem is finding time to recoup every day and remind myself of the over-arching purposes/values in my life.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by Diane on 15th January 2008

  • This is an awesome alternative to resolutions! I always have a hard time trying to figure out just one or a few things that I want to change in the new year. It's so hard to figure out the few little things that will make life richer and fuller. I think that a life theme is the way to go. This way you can work on changing in a more general direction, and that can encompass some things that may be unforeseen when you come up with the theme in the first place.

    Flag as inappropriate Posted by mamajama on 14th January 2008