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

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

Wondering why I started this blog? As a multi-passionate creative, I used to be plagued by the idea that success meant choosing one thing and sticking with it. The problem was choosing just “one thing” left me unable to show up in the world as my most authentic, full self. One day I woke up and decided to finally embrace and share all of my gifts. My next thought: I should start a blog as a space for my passions to play. I never looked back after that moment. 

psst. over here.

Powered by Creative Market

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 I 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!

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?

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

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 your 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.

It's time to ditch those pesky resolutions and create a year with true growth and impact!


Your theme can be your mantra.

In 2017 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 2017 was “Year of the Follow Through.” As the year came to a close, I could look back 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 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 2017, 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.

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. 

The key to having a powerful year isn’t making resolutions. That’s right, I said it. If you want to create a year that brings about the results you’ve been waiting for, join me for the 3-day Choose Your Theme for the Year Challenge!

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 (5 minutes is totally fine), 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’re 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.

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?

Help me grow! PIN THIS POST:

Ready for your most impactfull year?

Thanks for reading! Let’s crush it this year.


Related Posts:

How to Create a Morning Routine

Life, Elevated.

The Space In Between

  1. Nicole says:

    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.

    • D'Ana Joi says:

      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!!

    • D'Ana Joi says:

      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. NoRainChecks says:

    LOVE this post and the pictures, everything you do is so inspiring! Check out my blog

  4. Bossfidence says:

    Yes!!! I love this!! I am going to pick my 2018 theme today. Way better than a resolution.

  5. 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!

  6. Joi, I love this idea so much! Statistically, we rarely stick with the resolutions that we make so I could definitely see myself creating a theme for next year. Thanks for the inspiration!

  7. brinkker says:

    What a wonderful post it is. Seriously thanks for this useful info.

  8. Love this! I never go through with my resolutions so I really like the idea of choosing a theme.

  9. IrieDiva says:

    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 🙂

  10. Loved this. Normally people pick a resolution on the 31st of December which is why it never sticks. Its great that your thinking of this so early and are planning it out. Loved the positivity, keep it up 🙂

  11. Yes yes yes.. I love this…. I never made resolutions because for me they never really work out. I love this idea and I will be using some points from this to create the new aspect of the coming year. Thanks for this blog

  12. Laura says:

    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.

  13. naturallykam says:

    This was an amazing post! I just had a friend ask me about my resolution, and I think this is perfect because I have so many things I want to get done next year, but I hate making resolutions!

  14. Annie Cho says:

    Such a wise and positive view! My theme would be living a more healthy and positive life!

  15. Marissa | Simpli Sanders says:

    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.

  16. Zahra says:

    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!

    • D'Ana Joi says:

      “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.

  17. wow wonderful read and just in time for the new year. I have been practicing my mantra for years now and have noticed tremendous results! my dreams are unfolding and opening wider everyday!

  18. anissa4334 says:

    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!

  19. Liz says:

    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!

  20. Thanks for sharing.! This is so much better than making a resolution.. I’ll be pick a theme for 2018.

  21. I reallyyyy love the idea of having a theme instead of resolution. Like you, I truly feel like resolutions are extremely trivial so hearing this concept is amazing.

    Thanks for sharing,

    Aïchatou Bella

  22. CYMUA says:

    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!

  23. Great Post! I love the idea of a theme! I am going to focus my theme on growing my blog and my writing.

  24. I love this! I’m always saying that I don’t like resolutions and barely know anyone that keeps them. But I think your way really could make a difference. I think mine is going to be “mindfullness and self-care”.

  25. Kamira G. says:

    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.

    • D'Ana Joi says:

      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. 🙂

  26. impurrfectlife says:

    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!

  27. Wow what a great idea! I usually never stick to resolutions so maybe a theme will really help me accomplish more this upcoming year.

  28. beatsbykd says:

    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. 🙂

  29. Lisa says:

    Hi! Happy to have found your blog! I love the layout, the style the content…everything! I’ve read some of your posts and I can’t wait to read more! Looking forward to following you 🙂
    Lisa |

    • D'Ana Joi says:

      Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for your kind words! I appreciate you taking the time to read, and thanks so much for following! Going to check out your blog as well. xo!

  30. Irina says:

    Cool article, liked it much. Thanks!

  31. love love love the idea of a theme vs specific things/events.
    Also the Year of the Follow Through and Diving Deeper, yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaas!!! You betta say that!!!!

  32. nabilaraine says:

    I love this!! You have definitely convinced me to have a theme instead of resolutions. I was never really into resolutions because why wait for the new year to make changes in your life? Now is the best time than ever to do it because we don’t know what tomorrow holds.
    Now you have my wheels turning! I’m going to make a list and will definitely be referring back to this to help me choose a theme. I think writing down when I follow through with a theme and refer back to it later in the year with really help me continue. Thanks for this great post! 💕

    • D'Ana Joi says:

      I’m so glad you found this helpful! I really feel that choosing a theme is a great way to frame goals both big and small. Have fun with it!! Thanks for reading. 🙂

  33. nabilaraine says:

    Reblogged this on Nabila Raine.

  34. Aitza B says:

    Yasss!!! I’m so in love with this post. Two year ago I gave up resolutions, not that I ever really did them. Now I do a 30 before 30 update every December, as my framing for the next year/ my birthday and this year’s focus is happiness. It’s something to constantly aspire for and experience in various forms.

    • D'Ana Joi says:

      That’s great. The key is finding something that works specifically for YOU in a way that is meaningful. Thanks so much for reading and sharing your story with me. xo

  35. […] interesting.” You can read the first blog I read about themes for the new year over at I have never been one to really make New Years resolutions. It’s not that I’m against […]

  36. Donquita says:

    I love this idea. I think mine will be self-care.

  37. I love your outfit, especially that skirt. I absolutely agree with everything your saying. I am on that same track, the same frame of mind.

  38. Syd says:

    I love this concept! I’ll definitely be considering this as a go through 2018. I’d say my theme is health

  39. Taylor says:

    ALL OF THIS! I literally just posted a similar post! Resolutions are *to me overrated!

  40. MumNatural says:

    Beautiful… I absolutely share that a theme is better than resolutions.. its good to see someone else along the same lines I was thinking. I have chosen thanksgiving as my theme for this year .. great read

  41. […] Why You Should Choose a Theme for the Year Instead of Making Resolutions “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.” – (D’Ana Joi/Joi-Knows-How) […]

  42. GirlVsCity says:

    I did this last year and had such great success, I’m doing it again. My word for the year is Brave – I’m pushing through all of my limits!

  43. Love this idea. I try to do both resolutions (just because I need the extra focus ha ha) and a general theme (although mine is more-so monthly than a theme of the year).

  44. dfrenchn says:

    Awesome Post. I chose to do a theme as well going into the new Year. Mine is “Living with Authenticity,” meaning that I am intending on presenting my most authentic, real self in my endeavors this year. Much Love <3

  45. Mich W says:

    I have given up on resolutions as I can never complete them. A theme sounds like a perfect more meaningful idea. My theme for 2018 will be to find more ways to spend time alone and enjoy “me” time. Then everything else will fall into place ( I hope).

    • D'Ana Joi says:

      Hey Mich, that’s an awesome theme! I have one friend who chose “The Year of Self” as her theme. It’s a great thing to focus on!
      Thanks for reading.

  46. Melissa says:

    I too chose a theme this year. Mine is “back to the basics” – it’s about getting back to some core things that have drifted away due to change and being busy. I like the idea of having a theme!

  47. Doreen says:

    Very interesting post! Never thought of having a theme instead of resolutions, in fact I wrote a post on my 2018 resolutions but maybe next year I will do a theme instead. I’ll see how the resolution option goes. Thanks for sharing. Love your outfit by the way!

  48. Doreen says:

    Very interesting post! Never thought of having a theme instead of resolutions, in fact I wrote a post on my 2018 resolutions but maybe next year I will do a theme instead. I’ll see how the resolution option goes. Thanks for sharing. Love your outfit by the way!

  49. Awesome! This is a great concept. I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions Year’s ago but a theme is a great idea. Actually, I’ve been doing it subconsciously. For instance, I’ve already decided that this is the year of increase for me…now I really have to build on it! Thank you for helping me to place things into prospective. 🙂

    Tonya White

1 2

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


site desigN | PRIVACY | TERMS | Copyright Joi Knows How LLC 2020

%d bloggers like this: