Why You Should Choose a Theme for the Year Instead of Making Resolutions

Why You Should Choose a Theme for the Year Instead of Making Resolutions

Recently I was having lunch with a couple of friends and we got to talking about our goals for the coming year. “Do you have any resolutions?,” I asked. The moment the question left my lips I realized how trivial it sounded. So, instead told my friends about how this year I decided to choose a theme instead of resolutions, and how much more effective it was for me. I was eager to explain to them all the benefits of choosing a theme, and I could tell my advice was resonating. I put together this blog post in hopes to inspire a few more folks to choose a theme for the year and leave resolutions behind. I hope you enjoy, let’s get into it!

December is upon us. It’s that time of year when we begin to reflect on the year nearing its end, and start making promises to ourselves about all the ways we will change in the year ahead. It’s the time for setting our New Year’s Resolutions…right?


Well, the thing about resolutions is that they often carry with them the weight of failure. Our intentions may be good, but the moment we lose sight of those resolutions we become guilt-ridden and usually give up on the goal altogether.

This year I am suggesting that you create a theme for the year in lieu of resolutions. Keep reading to find out why, and learn some tips about how to choose a theme of your own.

Resolutions tend to be specific while choosing a theme is more general.

Choosing an overarching theme allows it to take shape in various aspects of your life, versus one specific area. For example, your resolution might be to drink more water or join a gym. Those are great goals, but instead, you could make your theme for the year “Experience Health.”  Choosing “Experience Health” as your theme could lead to much more than upping your water intake and joining that gym, you may also begin to consider other aspects of your health such as mental clarity and healthy relationships.

A theme continuously unfolds, while resolutions are a one-and-done.

Another benefit of choosing a general theme instead of a specific resolution is that open-ended ideas take longer to develop. Let’s say you choose “Go Slowly” as your theme. As the year progresses your theme may reveal itself in more ways than you intended. Perhaps you’ll take more time to self-reflect before making major decisions, or begin taking walks to clear your mind or develop a meditation practice in an effort to honor your theme of slowing down. The possibilities for your theme to manifest itself are endless.

Your theme can be your mantra.

Last year my theme was, “Year of the Follow Through.” I used this theme as my mantra when I found myself in a situation where I wanted to back down or give up. Follow through, I would say to myself. I knew I chose my theme for a reason and using it as a mantra helped me stay on track. It would be much harder to use “join a gym” as an everyday mantra. (lol!)

You can look back at the end of the year and reflect upon all the ways your theme took shape.

As mentioned, my theme for this past year was “Year of the Follow Through.” Now that the year is coming to a close, I can look back on the year and see all the ways in which my theme manifested. I followed through with starting this blog (woo!), and I followed through with making a major shift in careers (from nanny to certified substitute teacher). The career change had many steps to it…passing an exam, filling out applications, going on interviews, etc. all of which I was able to follow through with and complete within the year. Both starting a blog and launching into a new career had been on my radar for quite some time, when I decided on my theme for this past year, I was able to commit to following through with these major goals. No resolution has ever proven to be as effective, in my experience. Taking time to reflect on your theme at the end of the year is a very rewarding experience and can help you determine your new theme for the next year.

Why You Should Choose a Theme for the Year Instead of Making Resolutions

How to Choose your Theme:

Now that I’ve convinced you that choosing a theme for the year is more effective (and rewarding) than making resolutions, let’s talk about a few ways you can go about choosing a theme of your own for this coming year. Read below for a few ideas. 

  1. Write a list things you would like to see come to pass over the next year or areas in your life you would like to see improve. Once your list is done, look it over and see if there is a common thread. Allow that common thread to translate into your theme.
  2. You could also get quiet, perhaps sit for a meditation (at least 10 mins is great), and set the intention of seeing yourself having a rewarding year. What is your visualization? Do you see more money flowing into your experience? Maybe more meaningful relationships? Use these images to determine which theme you could choose in order to help your vision come to pass.
  3. This next tip is very important: Always speak in the AFFIRMATIVE when choosing your theme.  When we are pondering changes we want to make, it comes naturally for us to speak about what we don’t want. Your theme will not be helpful if you focus on what you don’t want. Saying “I don’t want to be late,” is the same as projecting the energy of “lateness.” Instead, you may say “The Year of Arriving Early,” or “The Year of Perfect Timing”, for example.

Does that make sense? Let’s do one more example just to be clear: When I asked a friend about something she wants to let go of next year, she replied with, “I don’t want to be afraid to be myself.” Such a beautiful goal, but in order to make it into her theme, it needs to be spoken in the affirmative. So, we played around with a few ideas until we came to a theme that felt comfortable for her: “The Year of Embracing Openness,” and her mantra can be “embrace openness.”

Be open to the many ways that your theme may manifest, and do use it often as your mantra so that you can remain focused on creating a beautiful year.


My theme for 2018 is “The Year of Diving Deeper.” I want to dive deeper into creating meaningful content here on the blog, deeper into my relationships, deeper into my health, and deeper into all the creative passions that bring me the most joy. Dive Deeper will be my mantra.

What will you choose as your theme? Did I convince you that choosing a theme is more valuable than making resolutions for the year? Please leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts!


Why You Should Choose a Theme for the Year Instead of Making Resolutions | www.Joi-Knows-How.com

If you would like some support with choosing your theme, please feel free to email me, and we can figure it out together.

Thanks for reading! Until next time…



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  1. This is exactly what I needed this month. I never execute all my resolutions, and the guilt is so real. I love that I’d still be listing my goals, but then I’ll zoom out to reveal their deeper meaning. Feels more like a foundation change than just a list of tasks to execute. Thank you for *following through* this year to being this idea (and all your others!) to us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Nicole,

      Thanks so much for reading. I’m happy to hear that you feel that choosing a theme is a great update for your yearly goal setting! It’s my pleasure to be able to share what works for me, because chances are, somebody else will benefit too!


  2. This is a fantastic idea! I’m such a task-driven person that a resolution is my go-to because it is something I can tick off the list when I’m done. Choosing a theme seems to push one more towards holistic change – not just one bad habit or one area to adjust.

    I’m not sure what my 2018 theme will be, but I’m going to be mulling over this month!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Allison,

      Thanks so much for reading! It’s true that choosing a theme doesn’t have the same “list-like” quality that resolutions do, but at the end of the year you can definitely look back and see all the ways your theme came into play. Can’t wait to hear about what you choose for your theme. 🙂


  3. I love that! Choose a theme instead of a resolution, even though I don’t make resolutions anymore perhaps I can start making a theme instead! Thank you for this! And i am going to follow if im not. I need more of this in my life!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love it. I make a list of resolutions every year in my blog, I think this year I will set a theme and I will link to your post as inspiration. Thanks so much for inspiring 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve never thought of this before but it makes so much sense. Maybe this is where I’ve been going wrong all those years. I’ve been setting specific goals that I’ve struggled to reach or are too vague to know if I’ve completed. I’m going to think of a theme for the year for sure.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This is such a refreshing alternative to making resolutions. It leaves so much more room for improvements rather than the guilt when we don’t meet the concrete goals, even if they are SMART. You convinced me to make a theme for 2018. Now to get to the drawing board.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Yes!!!! I completely love this mindset. My theme for this year is ‘NO’. lol no joke!!! I am a say yes to everything person… because I fear hurting others more than I fear hurting myself! But this year, I am going to prioritize myself and make decisions for ME!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “The Year of Saying No” wow your theme will unfold in so many ways. I would also encourage you to consider what you do want to yes to… for example you could say “The Year of Healthy Boundaries” which would be speaking more in the affirmative. Either way, great theme! Thanks so much for reading.


  8. I prefer to set monthly goals but my “theme for the year” would be to be present in the moment. I want to give my undivided attention to everyone and everything. I can no longer multitask uggggggh!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I am really bad at making resolutions so the idea of a theme is great! There are going to be alot of changes for me and my family in the coming year…good changes. So I may have to think of some way to incorporate a theme around that idea. Thanks for the idea. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a beautiful way to look at turning a sometimes perceived challenge of “making a resolution” into a more achievable concept! My theme for 2018 will be “Elevation of mind, body, and spirit”. Thank you for your insightful words and encouragement!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Great idea for the new year. I totally agree. Actually what I’ve learned the past 2 years is to create a vision board for myself. Seeing it everyday consciously and unconsciously sets me on a path to accomplish everything on the board. With only 3 weeks left in the year I’ve accomplished everything except 3 things. I feel pretty good about it. Like you said. Generalized themes are way better than pegging ourselves into specific concrete resolutions. So far it’s working for me. Great tips.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey Kamira,

      As I type this at my desk, my vision board is hovering about me in clear view. I agree that creating a vision board is soooo important. It’s a great way to bring focus back upon what you want to manifest. Anytime I feel like my energy is stuck, I create a new vision board. 🙂 You could look at your vision board and see if you feel a theme arising from the images that you’ve chosen! That would be fun. Thanks for reading. 🙂


  12. I like your idea of generalized themes over resolutions. For the past two years I decided to use a vision board. I feel like it’s really helped me subconsciously and unconsciously set myself up for success. Using a theme is a great idea. Less “pressure” and don’t have to worry about “failure”. Nice hack!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Ahhh! Absolutely love this post! First off you look amazing in those shots and I love that outfit. I have never been a resolution kind of person mainly because of what you said, it is so specific. I love your idea of picking a theme. I am going to take your advice and think of my 2018 theme. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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