Got big plans this year? Did you make any resolutions? Goals?
As you probably know, the “honeymoon” period of New Year plans tends to fade away – sometimes as quickly as February!
I have found that when I gift myself the soul-searching process of selecting a theme, the goals fall in line more easily. After doing this for more than 10 years, I know that my best themes come from an inner guide, which has a much stronger voice (and more believable to me) than a to-do list of goals. (Although, I also write out detailed goals.)
If you are wondering how to find your theme, let me walk you through my – very loose – process. Some years it’s more mystical, like having a vision or something. Other years, more intellectual, thinking it all through. I recommend giving yourself a deadline though. You may come up with your theme in 30 seconds, or it may take weeks. But don’t let the process linger on… and don’t try to make it perfect. Guess what? You can change it in July if it was a miss!
And just because it’s a few months into the year, it’s not too late. Here goes…
Start with the recent past. I usually begin my theme process as a wondering. It’s not a formal thing, I just start musing: Hmmmm, wonder what my theme will be next year? And that naturally brings up the questions: How did this past year go for me? What worked? What didn’t? What made me happy? What didn’t? Simple questions. Yet crucial ones. Whether you had a great year or a terrible one, the key is to acknowledge the truth of it, feel the pain or joy of it, take note of the impact that period of time had on your life… and then gently allow yourself to move on to this upcoming year.
Dream. Dream. Dream. Now that you have given the past year proper acknowledgement, it’s time to let your heart, your soul, your imagination feel into the future. Imagine yourself at the end of this year… how do you want things to be? What do you want to have accomplished? And, how do you want to feel? Don’t skip this feeling question… I promise that if you can really dip into the essence of how you want to feel, you’ll move toward it even faster. There is a lot of malarkey out there about “thinking positive thoughts.” Fine and dandy, but feeling into your life is where the real juice is. So…. let ‘er rip!
Notice the Signs Your Life is Showing You. I love this part. Now that my mind and heart are bubbling with possibilities, I tend to start noticing patterns in the world around me. It’s like a brand-new filter has been placed on my awareness. The “pattern” that led to my 2014 theme was more intense than usual. In a matter of two weeks, I had a series of dead battery experiences: My elderly mobile phone started losing its charge quickly. Plus, its power cords kept malfunctioning. Then, on Christmas Eve, en route to my 2-week remote getaway, I stopped at a grocery store near my destination in Southeast Georgia. Last chance for groceries before the holiday! It was late evening and the store was closing early. I was the last shopper to push my cart into the desolate parking lot. Lo and behold, my car battery was dead! Ugh! And did I mention that my phone was dead also? The store people were not eager to help me, but I got lucky and a lovely woman and her teen-aged daughter stopped to give me a jump start. A Christmas miracle! (For a minute there, I felt a bit like I was in a Lifetime movie.) Once at my destination, I discovered a dead laptop battery and I had forgotten to pack the power cord! (Turned out to be a fabulous thing for my mental health, but still.)
Yes, this parade of powerlessness… missing power cord, dead batteries, malfunctioning chargers… it was definitely a pattern smacking me on the nose!
Put it All Together. So, once I mopped my exasperated brow of all that, I asked myself the same question I always ask as I’m closing in on my theme for the new year: What is most needed in my life right now? It’s a question fed by the past year + future dreams + signs from real life. And my answer was: I need a spark. Yes, that’s it! The word “spark” felt good, true and powerful. This would be my theme for 2014. And that decision was solidified when, a week later, I learned that some good friends had lit a candle on my behalf when I could not be at a recent gathering with them. This was so touching to me and reminded me that the spark needn’t only come from me, but that I can allow others’ sparks to bring me light too.
Create a Structure. This is simply a physical reminder of your theme. Whatever makes sense to you. One client carried a tiny pebble in his pocket for a year to remind him of his theme: Ripple Effect (as in, toss in a pebble, it ripples out…). I often create a laminated card with an image and words that remind me. (Example.) I make several copies, actually, and stash them in various places around my life so that I really do see my theme every single day.
Your Turn Now.
What is your theme for 2014? What word or phrase will hold you to a higher standard this year, and breathe life into what really matters to you? Share in the comments if you are willing!