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To Theme or Not to Theme

If your New Year's resolutions don't seem to be working for you and you feel ready to give up, maybe it's time to try choosing a theme instead.

Do you tend to make a New Year’s resolution every year? How do you feel by the end of the year? Do you feel like the resolution helped you to progress to where you wanted to be? Or do you feel like you failed again?

First of all, what are resolutions? They generally involve a concrete behavior where we make a firm decision to do or not do something. More often than not, it’s about fixing something about ourselves that we don’t think is acceptable. Eg. lose weight, exercise more, budget better, spend less, etc.

Resolutions can make us feel or continually enhance our thoughts of ‘not being enough’. Eg. ‘I need to exercise more because I’m not strong enough or thin enough.’, ‘I should take an art class because I’m not creative enough.’, ‘I should read certain types of books because I’m not knowledgeable enough.’, etc. And if we don’t get to where we think we should be by the end of the year, we can feel like a failure.

That’s not to say that resolutions can’t or don’t work, but it can create a lot of unnecessary pressure on ourselves.

A new year should be able to feel like a fresh start instead of feeling like we are still lacking, have fallen short in some way, or haven’t achieved the outcome we desired.

So as we make our way into 2020 (which is also a new decade), you may want to consider choosing a theme for the year instead of a resolution. It’s still about working on ourselves, but enables us to navigate our lives in a gentler way. Themes allow for us to have an idea for our year to revolve around, rather than trying to change a specific behavior.

One definition in the dictionary states that a theme is an idea that is repeated or developed throughout a piece of work or art. Well, I’ve always considered myself to be a work in progress, perhaps a masterpiece that is progressing and evolving every day.

Themes are generally one word, but can be a phrase, and should resonate with you. Too often we set goals, resolutions, themes, etc. based on other people’s beliefs and ideas because we think they might be right. But we need to connect with our inner selves to find the right theme for each of us. If you read or hear someone else’s theme and you think, ‘Wow, I really like that!, then that probably is a theme that is right for you.

My themes for this year are expansion and creativity. Last year it was trust. The reason I chose expansion is because I feel I want to expand on many levels: spiritually, emotionally, physically, mentally, with my business, relationships, and all parts of my life. I chose creativity because I want to open myself up to new and unique ideas in my business and personal life, have a lot more fun, and shift my energy and keep it moving in the right direction.

Below are some themes for you to consider:

Be Present – this could mean worrying less about the future, dwelling less on the past, listening more deeply in a conversation, or being more aware of everything you are doing on a more regular basis.

Gratitude – this could mean saying thank you more often, appreciating what you have in your life, and finding different ways to feel joyful.

Welcome – this could mean things like welcoming every part of your life whether good or bad, opening yourself to new opportunities, or maybe new relationships.

Mindfulness – similar to being present, this could mean meditating more often or sitting quietly without doing anything else, eating and focusing on every bite & how the food makes you feel, or focusing on only one thing at a time and trying to reduce distraction, multitasking, and stress.

Movement – this could mean that if you have a job where you sit most of the time that you get up and move around more often, it could mean doing yoga or dancing or walking or stretching, or it could mean moving your energy (check out Donna Eden’s YouTube videos).

Nourishment – this could mean thinking about what foods you are putting into your body (real food vs processed, developing awareness of food sensitivities), this could mean becoming more aware of your thoughts and feelings (what you are telling yourself), or this could mean self-care routines.

If these resonate with you, then great, use them, but try to come up with your own. There aren’t really any hard and fast rules. Just think about what you would like to have more of in your life and why. This will help you to determine if it is really your theme or someone else’s.

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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