This is always one of my favourite blogs to write every year because I get to share my hopes for the future. And, along the way I can offer up strategies for you to do the same. Let’s get started so I can share my theme for 2023 (and how to choose your own)!
I love the feel of January. After all, it’s like starting a new book with endless plot possibilities.
I’m curious – how do you turn the page for a fresh start? Do you choose a word or theme that sets the tone for your new year? It’s mainstream to do so now and in fact, you may be tired of how many people are on that bandwagon. But I’m here to tell you — it makes a difference.
A theme should be a word or words that resonate with you and embodies something that you want to amplify in your life. When you set goals or make decisions – or when you feel misaligned in life – your theme is a foundation that will guide you to stay true to what you want to create.
The reality is that life gets faster all the time. We always want to be moving forward. Never stagnant. But, one of the most valuable planning tools to determine what you want to create and where you want to put your energy is to hit pause and reflect. In looking back, you can celebrate your successes, ponder what didn’t work so well and then set the stage to move forward.
HOW TO CHOOSE YOUR OWN THEME
But, it doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, here are three questions to kickstart that reflection process for you.
What did you accomplish in 2022? Even if you didn’t achieve all you set out to, there are always wins and accomplishments to celebrate. Be gentle with yourself and move away from self-blame and judgement. Instead, focus on those achievements.
What didn’t work so well and why? Bonus tip: this isn’t negative but rather, a sign to acknowledge, accept and then let it go.
What was a positive force for you in 2022? Who was a positive force for you in 2022?
These three questions may be all you need but if you want to dig deeper, you can download this reflection exercise and work through it on your own. Full disclaimer: this exercise is amazing so take a look.
HOW I CHOSE MY THEME FOR 2023
Many, many years ago, I started choosing a word or theme to guide me into the new year. Back then, I contemplated what I wanted to achieve and how I wanted to feel and when I landed on the right word – kaboom!!! I knew it fit and it was always uncanny how often it sifted into my life to provide clarity.
Since then, I’ve honed the process and actually delve quite deep. First, I reflect on the previous year with a worksheet I designed (see above!) and usually land on some ideas of what my theme might be. From there, I contemplate my guiding principles and goals …. and all that ties into my values. It is so much more than just a word or theme that pops into my head – it is my guiding light for the entire year. I’m always intrigued that after landing on a theme, it seems to trickle into everything around me. It’s like a beacon to let me know I’m on track.
And, because I believe in walking the walk and not just talking the talk, I’m hoping to inspire and motivate you by sharing my reflection on 2022 and then rolling out my 2023 theme. Stick with me here – it sounds like a lot but there is a definite flow of ease to it.
MY 2022 REFLECTION
This time last year, I wrote this blog reflecting on how I chose JOY TRIGGER as my theme for 2022. After losing my sister in 2020 and surviving the first year without her, I knew I had to create a pathway to awaken joy in my life. I needed to recapture the essence of who I am — and that is very much enveloped in both intentions of how I want to live and show up… plus the very root of being happy. I was ready!
Joy trigger was my choice of themes so I could look for happiness and ground myself in the things I enjoyed in life. Oh, and also to get some things done that I was procrastinating on which were zapping my joy!
The very process of reflection and choosing a theme serves as an inner compass telling me what I need to do and how I want to feel. As I started 2022, it was crystal clear – I wanted to get back to living on purpose joyfully and with intention. To remember my blessings in spite of the deep losses and restore my innate sense of joy. And, to take deliberate action.
And then…..my brother died in January 2022. And in February, I got Covid. As much as I tried to tap into joy in those first few months of 2022, grief bubbled up with ferocity and that pain definitely impacted my well-being and my relationships.
You may be questioning how a theme of Joy Trigger could possibly turn things around under those circumstances, but it did. Your theme serves as an anchor, always bringing you back to what you decided meant something. As I worked through the grief and sadness and yup….anger, I returned to my intention to live on purpose joyfully and with intention. In fact, my theme nudged me to look for joy in the smallest things and to simply welcome them into my life. It was actually quite magical in its simplicity.
So, what did I do? I asked myself big questions about my business as it wasn’t filling me with as much joy as it once did. That led me to ending Lighthouse’s mentor program after 11 years and although that felt like good timing, I was still filled with uncertainty about what was next for Lighthouse. I knew forcing decisions wouldn’t work because emotionally, I just wasn’t up to it. Then in the fall, things became clear and I’ve since set the wheels in motion with Lighthouse’s future. More on that another time!
I went on a ton of trips and took it all in stride so I could focus inward and enJOY. I focused on healthy eating and maintained the 25 pounds I lost in 2021. And, I went on a tough journey of questioning relationships that no longer felt rooted in compassion and care. Frankly, they stole my joy and I had to accept that those connections are different than what I thought they were. Mind you – it took me until the fall to get there on that one but that’s okay because it has led me to a place of setting healthy boundaries and forgiveness. Two things that I historically haven’t been very good at.
I also tackled two big projects that I had been procrastinating on because they were zapping my joy. Our estate planning and new wills are done! And I’ve started to write my book. That latter was a big goal for 2022 and I didn’t get it done but I’ve set a plan for 2023.
There is much more to my 2022 experience but that is a sampling to show the power of a theme. The best part – it equipped me to be gentle with myself through the grief and consider longer term changes. Look out 2023!
ROLLING YOUR THEME INTO ACTION
Of course, action is what it’s all about. Life can derail you but if you lay out some intentions of how you want to feel in all your different realms and set a few goals that help you fulfill those intentions, you maintain focus for when you’re ready to tackle them. Your theme brings you back to it time and again. And the actions you create are always rooted in your values and how you want to feel.
Let’s do that step-by-step:
- Theme or Word
- Setting Intentions
- Break it into goals
If you’re curious about how it looks for me, let me break it down and give a sneak peek into it.
MY 2023 THEME
I use the process I created in my Set Your Intentions for Your Best Life online course to guide me through all those steps to choose my theme. I also break it all down into a mini manifesto that delves deeper. You don’t have to do that or as they say, you do you. If that is too heavy, it’s okay. Just use your theme to contemplate what will give you what you need in the new year.
For 2023, I landed on TIME as my theme.
I’ve rolled that into both the word ‘TIME’ because of what it means to me, as well as an acronym that breaks it down to the most meaningful pieces of what I want for my time in 2023.
First, a definition of what TIME means to me.
Time isn’t infinite. During this transitional stage in my life, time looks different to me and that can leave me feeling untethered. But, what you do with your time is a choice. In 2023, I want to be purposeful with my time to lay groundwork for my future. And, I want to be purposeful with my time even if that means choosing to spend some time with no purpose – just a simple focus on being present, stillness, rest, contentment. Either way, I will continue to seek joy and wonder.
Next, I ground that definition with questions that guide me to fulfill that theme.
- How do I want to spend my time?
- Is this the best use of my time?
- Is this who I want to spend my time with?
- How do I want to feel about how I spend my time? That last question had me writing out the words of how I want to feel about how I spend my time – valued, engaged, supported and supportive, energized, peaceful, fulfilled.
Finally, the acronym.
T = thankful
I = Intentional
M = Mindful
E = Energy
I dig deep in my 2023 manifesto and if helpful to you, I’ve given you 4 steps to design your personal manifesto too!
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN
In case you think it’s all too rigid, the truth is that it is meant to be fluid. Things change and life happens so shift gears if it feels necessary to do so. However, by setting intentions of ways to fulfill your theme — let’s face it, you have a fighting chance.
Do you choose a word or theme that sets the tone for your new year? Or, perhaps you need a little help to get you there. It can be tough. I get it!
I’ve worked hard over the years to create a process that works for me and I’m thrilled that people find it useful too. Whether you want to keep it simple and nudge yourself along or would like to delve deep, here are a couple tools for you to use.
- You’ll find some blogs that give you variations of how to set your theme, complete with ‘how-to’ advice and free downloads that walk you through it step-by-step.
- To bust through the overwhelm, you can also download my popular ‘Set Your Intentions for Your Best Life’ online course. This self-directed mini course is updated with fresh content, online instruction and worksheets that will guide you to chart your own course. Plus, me as your cheerleader!
Lastly, putting yourself out there is one way to hold yourself accountable so please SHARE. Put your 2023 word or theme in the comments below or even better, share it on my social channels. Just look for my Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn post with a joyful photo of me on a diving board and tell me your word or theme!
Wishing you a new year that fills your time with joy, good health and harmony.