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Ditch Resolutions and Embrace Themes

January 17, 2023 | Leave a Comment

by Cheryl Megurdichian, CFRE

Tags: , ,

Journal open to page showing a resolution: "and so the adventure begins"


Ditching Resolutions

My New Year’s resolutions were always bright and shiny, full of hope on New Year’s Day.

But, by the end of the month they morphed into failures. When I set specific goals – I will walk 10,000 steps every day – one miss started a downward spiral. And just a few days without those steps meant defeat. I would give up trying.

I fully embrace the idea of self-improvement. And, the beginning of the year seems like a great time to start on a path to something. So, I just changed up my approach.


Pick a Theme

Last year I picked a theme instead of making a resolution. The beauty of a theme is that the meaning can change over the year.

Let’s say you select the theme “Year of Health.” You join a gym, set an appointment with a personal training, but after two weeks you are just not enjoying it. You are finding excuses not to go. Instead of putting this down as a failure, you can reassess. Perhaps you really enjoy walking in a natural setting. This provides exercise and can be hugely beneficial to your mental health. So, committing yourself to spending more time doing something you enjoy still fits in your theme.

With a theme, there will be many choices you can make during the year that reaffirm your commitment. Take the stairs instead of the elevator. Skip dessert. Spend time with friends rather than alone watching television.

And, there will be times when you are running late and the elevator is the better choice. With a theme, this isn’t a failure. It was just the best option at that time.

Themes can be anything. Broader themes will give you more flexibility. More chances to think creatively about changes you want to make or experiences you want to try.

Some examples are:

  • Reading: Read more books or explore a new genre, subscribe to a new magazine, or learn to use the BARD, Libby or Seeing AI app
  • Exploration: Learn a new language, try new cuisines, visit different cultural institutions, or take trips to the area’s State and National Parks (check out the Access Pass for people with disabilities)
  • Friends: Make new friends, reconnect with old friends, or spend more quality time with a core group of friends
  • Creativity: Rearrange your furniture, learn to play the guitar, or learn about journaling, drawing, photography or flower arranging through a class or online

Make it Your Own

My theme for 2022 was “Year of Exploration.” I love to read, but was getting in a rut of familiarity. I enjoy reading crime and mystery novels, so I kept falling back on these rather than trying something new. So, I explored new authors, new topics and discovered some great books. I also spent more time exploring my family history — something I’ve been dabbling with for years. By embracing this theme, I became more focused and finished a history of my Dad’s family going back three generations.

I also explored the world with an online subscription to National Geographic. And, I explored world history through The History of Rome and The British History podcasts.

You can just pick a word and give your creativity free reign. Or, start with past resolutions you made. Pick a theme that can include one or more of those and gives you the freedom to try new approaches and new ideas.

This video does a great job of explaining the idea of Themes:

Cheryl is the Director of Development and Communications at Second Sense

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