Choosing a Theme for the Year vs. Setting Resolutions

by Miranda Marquit · 8 comments

new years eve
My method for setting resolutions has changed over the years.

At first, I used to make lists of things I wanted to accomplish throughout the year. Then, as I realized I could rarely get through my laundry list, I began narrowing things down. I’d pick one big goal to work on for the whole year in different areas of my life, which worked really well.

I liked setting one big financial goal (such as working up to maxing out my Roth IRA or refinancing the house) for each area of my life and then spending the whole year working on it.

Last year, I didn’t set any New Year’s resolutions. Reeling from my divorce and my second cross-country move in as many years, I used the year to explore and figure out what I wanted from life. I wanted to try new things, and evaluate what to keep and what to shed.

new years resolutions

Setting a Theme for the Coming Year

After evaluating how things went, I’ve decided to do something similar going forward. Instead of setting a few goals for the year, I am going to choose a theme. Last year was all about exploring myself and trying new things.

The coming year, I think, will be about growth. How can I grow in my life?
With a theme, it’s not so much about setting a goal and trying to hit milestones (and feeling disappointed when you fail and have to start again). Instead, it’s about working on adding more to your life, based on your theme.

I hope to use the word “grow” to guide my life. Last year, while I learned a lot about myself trying new things, I didn’t really stretch myself or grow as a person. This year, I hope to change that and grow as a person.

Don’t Stop Setting Goals

Setting a theme still gives you some leeway to set mini-goals along the way with your life, so you don’t have to abandon goals altogether. I still set goals for myself. However, they are more about lifestyle changes than they are about hitting certain benchmarks.

I hope to grow as a mother, so I’ll make sure to set aside more time with my son, doing things that help the both of us. I want to spar more with him in fencing, and help him with his projects.

I also plan to grow my business. It’s languished the last couple of years as I’ve had a lot of upheaval in my life. Now I’m ready to focus a little more on my business and work on growing it.

There’s a lot I can do for personal growth as well, including volunteer work in my community and doubling-down on my efforts to learn German ahead of my European trip in the summer. (Duolingo says I’m 16% fluent!)

Whether you set New Year’s resolutions, or you decide on a theme for the year, it’s always a good idea to spend time investing in yourself. Take some time to reflect on the past year, think about the future, and consider what you hope to accomplish.

What’s your plan for the coming year?

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{ read the comments below or add one }

  • DNN says:

    Stopping by to wish you a prosperous new year. 🙂

  • freebird says:

    I’ll take ‘value’ then. To me this means counting the ways to appreciate all that is around me. Nothing needs to change for life to get better, just the perspective of the eye of the beholder.

    • David @ says:

      Good perspective freebird. Thankful people make more money, are happier and better looking!

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

  • Ms Cent says:

    I really like the idea of choosing a theme for the year! Having a theme allows you to grow in all different areas, whether it be personal, money, or work life! It also eliminates the stress of having to accomplish your new year’s resolution and feeling bummed about after it failed. Wishing you a happy new year from Centsai!

    • David @ says:

      Improvement is, at the end of the day, the most important right?

      Cheers to you as well and may your next year be better than this!

  • ESI Money says:

    Have you read the book “One Word”?

    If not, you should check it out since it’s almost exactly about what you’re suggesting — picking one word (like “growth”) for the year and focusing on it.

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