When my brother got married this year, he and his girlfriend decided to celebrate with a Rockabilly-inspired party. This set the tone for the whole wedding, and everyone who attended knew in which direction the party would go.
The defined theme of the party helped me make the appropriate choice for the dress – I simply needed to ask myself if my chosen dress would fit the Rockabilly style. At the same time, my brother and his girlfriend got what they wanted.
A theme for the new year works similarly. It excites and helps you get what you want without being too restrictive. Instead of trying to accomplish “SMART” goals, you focus on aligning your actions with the overarching theme you set for the year. This theme can be one word or a short sentence that inspires you and guides your activities throughout the year.
Why a yearly theme instead of new year’s resolutions?
I have never been a big fan of new year’s resolutions. Goal setting and striving to improve oneself weren’t a part of my upbringing. And after I discovered the world of personal development in my early 20s, I never adopted the practice of setting new year’s resolutions.
But that does not mean I don’t set goals. On the contrary, I love setting goals and going after them. But I think it makes more sense to set goals for events and timelines that have a special meaning to you instead of a relatively arbitrary date on the calendar.
After all, for most of us, not much changes in our external world on January 1st. We still hold the same job or run the same business. We still live in the same city, in the same building with the same people. We love our daily routine or the lack thereof.
However, our society is built on the yearly calendar, and I like the idea of having a framework for the next 12 months. An annual theme provides such a framework. It gives me a direction for the year and helps me to stay focused on my dreams and desires.
At the same time, it is flexible enough to account for life’s ups and downs and unforeseen events. While goals are narrow and fixed, a theme is flexible and serves as a bigger vision for the year.
Looking back to move forward
I usually don’t brainstorm a theme. Instead, it emerges from thinking back and evaluating the past months, where I am, and where I wish to be. I made some progress as an athlete and content creator the past year, but I wish I could have done more.
I didn’t focus enough on my goals and my life’s vision. Too often did I fall into the old patterns of people pleasing, over-committing, and acting out of fear rather than love.
However, I stayed committed to my goals and didn’t abandon them. I could celebrate successes in ultrarunning and remained committed to writing and building my blog. I also started a Youtube Channel.
I faced challenges in my relationship, but we weathered the storm. I am proud of my partner and me for creating this beautiful bond.
The next year won’t be about starting something new. My life has been filled with fresh starts over the past 5 years. A new job, changing positions within the company, starting my own business, rekindling my passion for running, and starting a new relationship.
Now it is time for growth.
Time to focus on the key areas of my life most important to me: personal development and spirituality, my capabilities as an ultra-endurance athlete, and my business.
These areas are interconnected, and growing in one will support all others.
How do I want to grow?
Personal growth and spirituality
Personal growth is the backbone for growth in all areas of my life. The biggest obstacle to succeeding in my endeavors is me. And whenever I take time for introspection, meditation, and learning, I feel more grounded and confident about the next steps I want to take.
I neglected this part of my life too much in 2022. However, I also know that putting a single-minded focus on personal growth and spirituality is counterproductive to goal achievement.
I have made the mistake in the past of spending so much time studying personal development that I had too little time to take action.
The challenge will be to balance personal growth and spiritual development with the other areas of my life.
Grow as an athlete
In 2023, I want to continue my ultrarunning journey. I am proud of what I have accomplished in 2021 and 2022 after not running for 9 years. I know that I haven’t reached nearly half of my potential.
The goal for 2023 is to put way more time and effort into training. That means running more, increasing my weekly mileage, and committing to a regular strength training and mobility routine.
I have committed to a few races that will require me to expand my comfort zone more, and I am excited to see what my body and mind are capable of.
Grow my business
Over the past 2 years, I have laid the foundations. Now it’s time to level up. I want to write more and become better at the craft. I also want to improve my coaching skills and knowledge.
A big focus will be on growing my Youtube channel, which I set up in October this year. The goal is to share running knowledge, gear reviews, book recommendations, and my training and race experiences.
Grow as a partner and friend
This could easily fall into the “personal development” category. However, I deliberately want to focus on this area separately. Building and keeping meaningful friendships have always been a struggle for me.
Maybe it’s still due to childhood trauma, or perhaps it’s just part of my personality. I generally prefer doing things alone, but it can get lonely sometimes. Plus, I love spending time with people I love, engaging in meaningful conversations, and doing something we love.
I never regret spending time with friends or my girlfriend. But I am often tempted to quickly postpone these beautiful moments until “later when I have more time.”
In 2023 I want to be a more available friend and grow as a loving partner for my girlfriend. As the saying goes, “It takes two to tango,” and I want to be the best dance partner I can be.
Growth without goals?
Setting a theme does not mean I don’t set goals. I have concrete and measurable goals for all areas of my life. And while I strive to accomplish these clear goals, the actual measurement of success will be how much I grew.
The theme of growth is my guiding compass for the year.
Whenever I am faced with a decision, I will evaluate if this decision supports my desire for growth in 2023. I am ready to step outside my comfort zone a lot more often to enable this growth.
And I am prepared to let go of the old to make space for the new.