The Power of Yearly Themes

The problem with New Year’s resolutions for a lot of folks is that they get all hyped up about setting their goals, which leads them to set way too many, which leads to failure, which leads to a lack of fulfillment. Clearly, that’s not something we’re looking for in a fresh start… Today I’m going to share how using a yearly theme can help you enjoy a more fulfilling and rewarding year beginning today.

The power of a yearly theme

There are only two primary reasons why we set New Year’s resolutions–or goals of any kind for that matter:

  1. Because we want happiness or pleasure or some degree of positivity in our lives.
  2. Because we want to avoid unhappiness, pain, problems or negativity in our lives.

… Or some combination of both. So, people set their resolutions: lose weight, eat better, make more money, etc. But there’s one big issue with these resolutions: they’re way off in the distant future, which means you’re at risk of falling into the trap of deferring happiness until you’ve achieved your goal.

You might mistakenly tell yourself:

  • “When I achieve X goal, I’ll finally be happy…” 
  • or “when I lose X pounds I’ll be happy” 
  • or “when I make such and such amount of money, I’ll be happy” 

But happiness isn’t about achieving a distant outcome (although it’s great when you do). 

Happiness comes from progress. 

The reason most people drop their resolutions is this: they can get themselves to stick with a new thing for a little while—wake up at 5 am, eat healthy, exercise daily—but when they miss a day or mess it up once or twice, they feel like they’ve failed and they give up altogether.

One simple way to keep yourself on track this year—and to prevent yourself from feeling like a failure—is to set a yearly theme for what you’d like this year to be about.

The beauty of having yearly themes is that they help us feel good on the way to achieving our goals, rather than setting the senseless expectation that we can’t feel good until we get there.

Yearly themes are simple, one—to—three-word intentions that guide us and set the tone for what we’d like our year to be about.

Remember: Progress = happiness. And a theme helps you make progress. As long as you’re doing something in line with your theme on any given day, you’ll feel good about yourself. They’re like filters to fulfillment.


Now, this isn’t to say you shouldn’t set specific goals and resolutions… Goals help you figure out what you’re going for, but for many people, goals don’t provide that immediate sense of accomplishment to help them stay motivated—because the finish line is so far from today. But the addition of a yearly theme helps us pull that feeling of accomplishment into the now—into today.

  • Yes—you should still set goals and resolutions.
  • Yes—you should still develop a clear vision about what you want.
  • Yes—You should still have a compelling WHY to stay inspired.
  • And yes—you should still put goals and plans in place to help you get there….

But one simple way to keep yourself focused and to sustain your sense of determination with respect to your New Years’ resolutions is to pair your goals/resolutions with a yearly theme.

So, having a yearly theme can help you stay inspired and keep you feeling good about yourself. They help you stay aligned with what you want your year to be about.

But how do you set them?

Super simple.

This is something I’ve been doing for years and it’s something I now do with my wife and daughter too. All of us set themes for the new year. (My four-year old daughter Nora, is joining in on the action for the first time this year!)

I think the best way to show you how to set them is to give you some examples…


My yearly themes:

  • 2018: Inspire + Inform.
  • 2019: Empower. Entertain. Educate.
  • 2020: Prolific.

My wife, Amna’s yearly theme:

  • Mind. Motion. Meaning.

My 4-year old daughter, Nora’s yearly theme:

  • Magic!

My momma’s yearly theme:

  • Be happy + spread happiness.


Select your yearly theme by answering the following question in one—to—three words:

  • What do I want this year to be about?

What’s your yearly theme for 2020? Send me an email and let me know!

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