The Difference Between Resolutions and Themes

02 Jan The Year of Thinking Differently

2015 was a great year for me, punctuated by high points in both my career (presenting for 2000 people at the AIGA conference in New Orleans) – and personal life (celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary at the Magic Castle.)

But I’m even more excited about 2016.

As you may have noticed, I’ve been writing more and generally more active on social media. That trend will continue (and even increase) through the coming year. You’ll get weekly articles and blog posts full of insights and tips designed to help you think currently about work, communication and innovation.

Rather than having New Year’s Resolutions, I’ve committed to a theme and dubbing 2016 “The Year of Thinking Differently”. I’m glad you’ll be with me!

The Difference Between Resolutions and Themes

The Difference Between Resolutions and Themes

I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s resolutions. While the beginning of the year is a natural milestone and and a good jumping-off point for personal betterment, the novelty quickly wears off and resolutions are usually left behind around the time that the holiday decorations go back in the basement.

Many of us take the new year as an opportunity to start fresh, set our sights on better health, relationships, money management and overall self-improvement. Statistically these resolutions tend to fail, though.

According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology only 8% of people actually stick to their resolution!

Given the dismal failure rate and what we know about how the brain works, why not opt for a more conducive strategy for change in 2016?

Instead of making a resolution, I suggest we each think differently about our ‘goals’ and instead choose a theme for the year.

This idea came from my friend Paul Frazer. I’ve used this strategy a few times with great success – one year was ‘the year of no fear’. Another was ‘the year of connections’.  By using some simple techniques and tools (see below) the theme stays top of mind all year and gently propels you forward.

How to Pick a Theme for Your Year

How to Choose the Right Theme

Picking a theme is a great way to focus on changes that we would like to bring into our lives, but how do we go about it?

A good place to start is considering all these desired changes and distilling them down into one umbrella word or phrase that can be your go-to intention through the year. Choose something that you want more of in your life. Keep positive.  

Here are some examples that might jump out or inspire you:

  • Thinking differently
  • No Fear
  • Gratitude
  • Connection
  • Authenticity
  • Love
  • Adventure
  • Creativity
  • Courage
  • Integrity
  • Honesty
  • Vulnerability
  • Openness
  • Mentorship
  • Wealth
  • Peace
  • Serenity
  • Compassion
  • Tolerance
  • Prosperity

How to Keep Your Theme Top of Mind

Keeping Your Theme Front of Mind

Once you have chosen your theme it will take some intention and commitment to keep it top of mind through your day-to-day routines and interactions.  There’s no wrong way to do this – so try different methods and find what works for you.

Personally, like using a really simple technique – a handwritten sign.  I just write the theme on a sheet of paper and hang it on the wall in my office.  Every time I walk in, I’m reminded of my theme and it keeps me grounded in that positive state.

The same general idea, but at the other end of the technological spectrum, is to create an image of your theme and use it as your computer or smartphone desktop image. Try Canva to help you create an image.

Here’s the lock screen image I just made for my phone:

Dan's Lock Screen

My Phone’s Lock Screen

When it comes to techniques to help you on your theme quest, you can be as simple or complex as you like and feel free to adapt and try new ideas throughout the year. 

Photo Challenge

Photo Contest Hashtag

As a fun way to keep my theme fresh, I’ve decided to post one photograph per week on Instagram that embodies ‘Thinking Differently’.  The photo could be something that makes me think differently, a person who thinks differently, the result of thinking differently, etc.

I invite you to join me in this challenge!  Just use the hashtag #my2016theme when posting your photo on Instagram (follow me @dantrommater!).  We’ll make a community that supports each other in our work on our themes.  Each week, I’ll feature a few photos on my blog and at the end of the year, I’ll give a prize to the person who manages to post the most weeks.

I’d love to hear what your theme is. Shoot me an email or tag me on Instagram (@dantrommater) with your photo.

To your best year yet!


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