Many people do not plan the night before, meditate the day of, reflect during the evening. Many people do not eat enough vegetables either. We should, we know we should, but … (insert plausible but irrelevant excuse).
Setting a theme strips away all the P-measures, R-measures, KPI’s, parental or religious guilt, and anything else that makes planning your year feel like a burden, instead of the optimistic fun it should.
Your theme is your personal mantra, a trigger, that may only make sense to you; that keeps you focused on your goal(s) for the next twelve months. It can be a few words that you mumble to yourself when you wake up, remind yourself throughout the day, in good times and bad, and recite when you lay your head on the pillow. It could be a prayer though a proverb would be better. It must speak to you, and preferably be uniquely your own.
Personally, I like using just a few words. Mostly because I do go hog wild in measuring so many things in my life. A few simple words to keep me focused is practically Zen compared to the cacophony of tables and graphs usually surrounding me. If you are still stuck, here’s a prompt.
- Pick one of your values.
- Pick on of your skills.
- Pick one of your aspirations.
Put them together and voila, you have them. Don’t like it? Choose different words. It is your theme; it doesn’t have to fit a logical formula for others. It only has to work for you.
I’ll share my theme for this year. It will also hold me publicly accountable.
Intend – Create – Provide
Intend – Setting your intention has almost become cliche. Still, it is a word that nips at my heels. We become what we think about, so we better focus our thoughts on the right thing. This is at the heart of my business purpose of helping leaders facing change to act on purpose, not by accident. It is where they set their intentions. An intention not acted upon doesn’t mean anything; it is just words. However, the right words will move you to action.
Create – Part of my purpose is finding those right words, as a writer and as a communicator. It applies to every aspect of my life. The very essence of life is creating. That space is where I create new programs, stories, and solutions. I’ll also be working on creating new experiences for me and the people I love.
Provide – I can intend something. I can create something, but if I clutch it in my hands, it does not provide for anyone. This is not just providing for my family, which is essential and sometimes challenging, it is also ensuring I provide situational leadership, astute insights and support.
Stoicism teaches me to see things for what they are (I intend to), do what I can (create) and endure and bear (and provide) what I must.
Kick-off season celebrates new organizational goals for “the best year ever” and most leaders will be supplying direct reports with their objectives and intentions. This year beat them to it and declare your personal goals, at least to yourself. Then you’ll be able to see if there’s alignment. If there is, you probably will have a good year.
Karl Bimshas is an Executive Accountability Partner who helps new leaders and leaders in transition to act on purpose, not by accident. He’s the author of “How to Stay When You Want to Quit;Strategies to get over yourself“.