How to set a theme for 2018

Think specific, think big-picture, then revise as needed.

Here’s something we don’t think about enough in the early weeks of January: Our themes for the year.

Themes, as in literature, are overarching principles and ideas learned through life experiences. Think Shakespearean here: Ambition, Love, Generosity, Man vs. Wild, Gratitude, Creativity, Loving Kindness, the list can go on and on.

Themes are the takeaway, the lessons, the guiding principles, the through-lines in your favorite memoir.

I highly recommend setting a theme, as it can help you focus on what you really want to do, achieve and be while letting other things fall away.

My bestie Stephanie and I met this year at Flag + Wire in McMinnville, to do our annual writer’s meeting. Stephanie’s had a lot of eye-opening and life-changing transitions this year , great stuff happening to a fantastic person. Celebrating together is something I look forward to — it never feels like work — and it’s a great time to pick a theme for the year.

We didn’t get a lot of planning done this year, but we were able to catch up and tackle our themes.

Last year, my theme was “Be at Home in the World.” That’s how this website happened! I wanted to feel at ease in my home life, and in how I interface with life outside the home. I wanted to feel less at odds with the domestic and the public.

How to choose a theme for the year:

  1. Think big picture. What is an idea you see popping up everywhere in your life?
  2. Consider last year. What is the biggest lesson you learned about life last year and how can you infuse all areas of your day with that new understanding?
  3. Think about your talents. What is the gift you want to be to the world?

The first theme I chose for 2018 was a bit of a clunker. I’ve got a new job, and I didn’t set the bar very high for myself:

2018: The Year of Embracing Change and Welcoming New Challenges

It struck me as kind of boring at the time, and still does. After all — isn’t EVERY year about embracing new challenges? Shouldn’t it be?

But I let that sink in for a couple of weeks.

What does embracing new challenges have to do with this year specifically?

I was so successful pinpointing a theme last year, am I just going to leave it so open in 2018 that I can’t fail?

That’s no way to set a theme.

So I switched it.

I thought about what I’m doing right now: Editing Oregon Home magazine, decluttering, setting priorities, dialing in what’s important to me. And I thought about how I want to be doing these things: Thoughtfully, intentionally, artistically.

I’m so happy I changed it:

2018: The Year of the Refined Edit

This fits me so much better. I’ve got this new job as editor (perhaps one aspiring to refinement?) but I also like the idea that this is the year when I let things go and really dial in on what I care about.

An intentional edit.

Also, it feeds into my desire, this time of year, to throw things out that aren’t working anymore.

A refined edit. YES!

Do you have a theme for 2018? How did you go about discovering it?