What’s Your Theme For the Next Year?

January 2, 2006  

In an earlier blog post, I discussed setting aspiration-based themes rather than goal-based resolutions.

What is your theme for the next year? In 2006, mine was “impact” — making a difference in the world.

Friends of mine had generosity, partnership, grace, health, “me”, new beginnings, adventure, and unpredictability.

Please post your theme as a comment. Thank you for sharing your inspiring stories!

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51 Responses to “What’s Your Theme For the Next Year?”

  1. Beth Dargis on January 4th, 2006 5:01 pm

    That is fantastic that you are on Tom Peter’s Cool Friends list! My theme for the year is: Taking Action. I’m a planner, but then I often miss opportunities to do something that will bring me what I want or spread joy. Your writing has helped free me up a lot from constant planning to really living.

  2. Jason Yip on January 4th, 2006 5:44 pm


  3. andy skinstad on January 5th, 2006 5:47 am

    my two themes for 2006 are curiosity and adventure.
    p.s good blog- i’m sure you’ll have a large following before long.

  4. Elias Dabbas on January 5th, 2006 7:09 am

    Thanks for the new approach Stephen,
    I’d like to participate by sharing my formulation for this year’s theme.
    “Being Myself”
    The last twenty years of my life were run by school, colledge, my boss, the society, etc.
    Not anymore…
    I started my own virtual business, and will hope to make it more effective this year.
    I am also willing to grow as much as possible the things that I really love but had no place for them in “business”
    namely, languages, writing, calligraphy, yoga, and starting two websites, one professional and the other personal.
    In a nutshell, instead of finding something to do that makes money, see how you can make money doing the things you love.
    Now I’m going to get to know what goal-free living is…

    Have a great year…

  5. Debra on January 6th, 2006 3:16 pm

    My over-arching theme for this year is living a fuller more fulfilling life and the areas of discovery are holistic health/well being; financial viability in career pursuits and creative/artistic development. I like the idea of a theme rather than a resolution – it’s more inclusive and leaves room for possibilities that are yet to be imagined

  6. Michelle on January 8th, 2006 3:34 am

    Actually my theme or ‘aspiration’ this year is to MINIMIZE. Sometimes there is so much chaos in our own worlds that it is hard to see how we can even begin to help others. So my wish for everyone in the new year is to breath, take a good look at what is important, get rid of self absorbing clutter and live in the moment. Remember it is the journey not the destination!

  7. Elizabeth on January 9th, 2006 7:11 pm

    Ahh, this one is easy. Enjoy life, Live life Goal Free!!!

  8. Jennifer on January 10th, 2006 3:24 pm

    My theme for 2006 is CHILDREN. I intend to look for every possible opportunity to spnd time around the children and grandchildren of my friends and family members. I want to observe and emulate their spontaneity, their freedom, their honesty, their playfulness, and their utter ability to live, love and laugh in the present moment. What better spiritual guides could we ever have than CHILDREN—the purest spirits of all!

  9. Smarky on January 10th, 2006 6:10 pm

    Hammer Time!!!!

    Time to really just nail everything and do my best, really just put myself out there! Last year I had the death of a well loved pet that had been with me before I was a teen! and 6 days ago, one of my friends commited Suicide. It’s time to LIVE!!!

  10. Marcelle on January 11th, 2006 5:05 am

    My Theme for 2006 is COMMUNICATION. I intend to learn to communicate better and healthier, more and more with my heart. I intend to share my knowledge and wisdom and listen to other people’s knowledge and wisdom. I intend to write and pulish a book on Law of Attraction in French and translate and publish more personal development books. It’s done deal NO MATTER WHAT!

  11. Stuart Jones on January 11th, 2006 1:22 pm

    Combining the twin themes of “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results = insanity” (Albert Einstein) and “Actions produce results” I intend to Act differently in 2006

  12. Smarky on January 12th, 2006 6:47 pm

    Actually Hammertime is like a goal, it’s forcing it all.

    My theme is now Hedgehog, to live more like a hedgehog.

    Foxes plan, evaluate and get ready to pounce forever, then when they do a hedgehog simply rolls into a ball. I’m going to concentrate on what really matters and stop making my life so complex. If you focus on being happy what else matters?

  13. Rosario on January 13th, 2006 6:35 am

    I have decided my theme for 2006 to be CLOWNING MYSELF. It came out of some comments I posted on your FUN section. Then, I realised that I contract and strangulate my good intentions -then, my body, heart, breath, and capacity to be happy- whenever I take myself too seriously. Yes, I want to make an impact like Stephen; yes, I love life and have talents to contribute in spirit of service; yes, I am passionate about shaking, bursting, and igniting stagnant views and hearts. But the world can still probably make it in case that I dissapear. So, while I am still around, why not to be silly more often, laught at myself louder, and question even the futility of my altruism -or the hidden acknowledged thirst for power-?. So, welcome everybody to the play!!!. I promise to bring out my inner clown this year whenever I start to feel trapped in self-importance. Then, I will clone the invent repeteadly until it internalizes in such a way that my cells will burst into laughing even before the minimum pretentious thought will threaten to disrupt the feast. Will meet everybody in the laugh!!!.

  14. Kimberly in PA on January 14th, 2006 11:05 am

    My 2006 theme is CREATIVE PERSONAL GROWTH. I suffered my second miscarriage in October and took two months off from work to recover physically and emotionally. (I own my own business so with my business partner’s support this was logistically easy. It was more difficult to give up control of my projects, but that was essential.)

    The two month hiatus became more than recovering from my loss, but an opportunity to look at my unconscious patterns of behavior, thoughts, and emotions. I have been focused on being aware of myself in each moment–not worrying about the future or obsessing over the past. My focus for 2006 is to continue down this path, but to incorporate creative pursuits (journalling, drawing, and fiber arts) to further explore, grow, and discard patterns that aren’t working for me.

  15. Duane Bidwell on January 14th, 2006 12:50 pm

    My Theme.2006 is “Refocus and Real/ize.”

    After two years of slowing down, it’s now time to reorient myself and “make real” the values and commitments I would have been moving too fast to see in previous years.

  16. william cranstoun on January 15th, 2006 1:04 pm

    I have never been a goal oriented person but thinking about what I read on your site, I haven’t gotten my copy of your book yet, makes me realize how much I have split myself by sacrificing the joy of the moment in order to make money, to do work that is not really me for an end other than itself. I did this originally as a temporary solution but after twenty five years in the work world I am still doing it. My theme is joy in the moment is shared with my family.

  17. Cheryl Frey on January 15th, 2006 1:42 pm

    My theme for 2006 is ALLOWING. To be in the flow of the universe so completely that I allow all well-being and goodness to flow to me unimpeded and in great quantities. this allowing will take away any stress, worry, unworthiness, any resistance to flow out of my life and allow happiness, fun, creativity, abundance, health, everything I want to come easily, quickly, in ways and quantities that even I can’t imagine. IT HAS TO BE HUGE IF I CAN’T IMAGINE IT.

  18. Teresa on January 15th, 2006 2:15 pm

    My theme for this year is also a message to the universe: SURPRISE ME!!!
    For the past few years I have been trying to decide what to do with my life. My children are all grown up now and I have the time and the freedom to do something with my life, if only I knew what it was.
    I have always been a goal-setter, but recently have been just trying to go-with-the-flow.

  19. Patti on January 15th, 2006 4:13 pm

    My aspiration for this year is to “Follow my Bliss.” As writer Joseph Campbell said, “Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.” It is true… last year I decided to quit “following my career,” took a leap of faith, and opened my own company doing what I have always wanted to do (but was afraid to try). Now, every day of my life I get to work at something that inspires me, makes me happy and helps me be a better person. Doors truly have opened for me and my life is amazing. So I guess in 2005 I “found my bliss,” and in 2006 I will continue to “follow my bliss.”

  20. Andrew Grant on January 15th, 2006 4:36 pm

    Deeper Connection

    The willingness to connect more deeply within ones “Self”, and in
    turn living more fully in each moment with more depth, passion in all areas
    of our life. We often can get caught up in the planing of future
    experiences, and totally miss out on the experiences of the present moment.

  21. Kathryn Mahoney on January 15th, 2006 5:44 pm

    Stephen, read your book and loved it. My theme for 2006 is “Live in the Moment.” In the past, I’ve always set goals and lived for the future in such a way that I was always thinking “I’ll be happy when…” Well, many “whens” have come and gone and despite the fact that I have a loving family, beautiful kids, nice house, and good health, true happiness eluded me as I was already moving on to set my next set of goals. This year, by practicing goal-free living, and reminding myself how blessed I am, I’m going to savor each moment I have on this planet, and say, “I am happy….NOW!”

  22. Marilyn Odell on January 15th, 2006 10:44 pm

    I chose MO Energetic as my doing-business-as name 18 months ago. Because my goal of moving and shaking the renewable energy world was not immediately achieved, I narrowed the goal to renewable energy grant writing.
    This year, instead of having my energies dissipated by a huge goal or stifled by a narrow one, I’ll be like a compass needle pinned to a cork and thrown into the ocean. I’ll be irresistibly pulled in the direction of exploration and discovery that leads to more questions and further exploration. I’ll communicate freely everything I discover. Other people will catch the enthusiasm, grab an idea and take off on even more journeys of discovery. What a multiplier effect!
    I will BE mo’ ENERGETIC!

  23. Terry Lindsay on January 15th, 2006 11:14 pm


  24. Sandra on January 16th, 2006 2:24 am

    Thank you for a most inspiring topic! Throughout the history of my life, it has been drilled,pointed-out,expressed and said over and over “What is your goal? You must have a goal to reach in life? or your life will be a wasteland of no potential” I had no goal but many inspirations and potentials. I have been a truant to the goal concept and have lived life “recklessly” enjoying the things that came to me and doing “whatever I wanted” in life. So that means that I know something but was not an “expert” in anything but I had the “freedom” to choose whatever I wanted to do…which made for a change of many hats on my career journey..that had no goal..I always believed that a goal was only proper if you were in hockey or soccer…he shoots he scores a goal! How does one shoot and score a career?
    In a job when “review” time came up the feeling of setting a short-term “goal” and a long-term “goal” was so painstaking that I could feel myself bloat up with such anxiety that I wanted to burst! and it did no good to say to your vice-president “well in 5 years for my goal,I want your job” back to rung number one and your workmates would be thinking “oops didn’t score your goal huh!”

    So for 2006..”BLOW THE GOAL” live life like no one is taking score!!!! I don’t know where I will be in 5 years but I do know that the last minute that passed by was lived to it’s fullest potential!

  25. Erin on January 16th, 2006 2:26 am

    My theme this year.. maybe a few-fold
    Self-discovery for one. i’m finally confronting some issues that have been hindering my relationships for many years, and it’s going to be an amazing, and difficult i’m sure, journey. I’m also hoping to work in some of the most bizarre odd jobs out there, while traveling europe or while here in the states. i spent so long being taught to specialize, and so much tiem working with computers, that nothing excites me more than realizing i am good at doing promotions or photography, or working as a waitress or learning italian and cooking! i want to do something like restore old buildings, do organic gardening, or make goat cheese while working for room and board while traveling this year. I can’t wait to put “Shepherd” next to “Software Engineer” on my resume. And oh yes–I certainly will put it on there.

    my other themes will be REDEFINING and INSPIRING. I want to redefine how my life can be lived.. and it takes practice but i’m well on my way.. it’s a continuation from 2005. i quit my desk job where i made a great salary but was miserable at IBM. i traveled europe for months and i began working part time as a promoter and doing other pick-up work. I want to continue on that path and along the way inspire others with what they call my ‘courage’ to quit such a good job in search of such a happier life.
    This site is what my life is all about right now. cheers to that!

  26. Ryma on January 16th, 2006 3:01 am

    My theme for the coming year is Simplicity. I want an uncluttered life, in every sense of the word. I believe that simple living will let me see the beauty around me, will let me rediscover the pleasures of just being alive, will let me concentrate on people, not things, and will provide me with the quiet I need to get to know myself. Simplicity makes everything clear.

  27. Sheryl Raphael on January 16th, 2006 11:06 am

    My theme for 2006 is LIVE IN THE MOMENT! I am by no means a planner (and not very organized!), but more often than not, I have found myself thinking about “the next thing.” The next job, the next opportunity of any kind, will I ever get married again, the list goes on and on. So…I decided this year I’m going to enjoy the moment I am in RIGHT NOW. I’m not going to sit back, but I’m definitely going to relax my brain a little bit. :)

  28. Debbie on January 16th, 2006 11:06 am

    My theme for this year is Flow, go with the flow and listen to my inner voice

  29. Leigh on January 16th, 2006 11:25 am

    Hi Stephen! Yesterday I delivered a session on Goal setting to a group of 20 executives. At the end of the session – I introduced your book – what a contrast! We had a few laughs and I told them how important it was to keep everything in perspective – and that reading your book would be a good thing to do for 2006! My theme for this year is Courage. I need to make some changes (like jumping off a lily pad) and my theme is to have courage throughout the year and en-courage others by example!

  30. paul parker on January 16th, 2006 12:46 pm

    always been their…just (learn to) accept it…

  31. ALISON S on January 17th, 2006 12:20 am

    My themes for 2006 are to “LIVE BOLDLY” and “CREATE YOUR OWN LANDSCAPE” . This year I will do things that I thought only “other people” were couragous enough to do. I have kicked of the year by leaving a very stable, yet overwhelmingly stressful law enforcement job to attend graduate school and enter a field that I actually love (despite pressure from all sides not to!). I also approached and took a picture with a famous daytime talk show host that I admire, something I would have never done in years previous. I am finally beginning to do what I want with my life and not live by others ideals of what my goals should be. Thank you so much for this book. Good luck and God bless in all that you do.

  32. Erin on January 17th, 2006 7:53 pm

    I just wanted to add, “Now is the Time” to my theme. When I was 13 I did a 5 minute speech contest and that was the theme then. I can’t believe I let all that go between age 13 and 23… Well I’m back on track now!

  33. Guin on January 19th, 2006 2:13 am

    This year, my theme is “living with less”. I feel like I have consumed so much over the past year or so and guess what? I didn’t feel better; in fact, I felt worse. Anxiety has been heightened in this state of consumerism, so I now reject it. I am also adopting “new beginnings,” since I am starting a new job. Good luck to everyone in taking what life offers them in ’06. And thanks, Stephen.

  34. Jennifer on January 19th, 2006 8:35 pm

    My “theme,” or as I call them “character goals” (sorry, the G word), is about mastery and action. Taking what I already know and putting it into action. I get stuck in analysis paralysis and it is time to start putting what I know into action. Best of luck to you!

  35. ChristiElla on January 19th, 2006 9:16 pm

    HAPPY NEW NOW, I feel this is really living in the moment; I chose to be happy now, and every moment is NEW

    Blessings, ChristiElla

  36. michelle on January 24th, 2006 3:51 pm

    Aspiration for 2006: Do things differently. Inspired by a couple of quotes: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you always got.” I don’t like what I’ve been getting out of life and I can’t blame it on misguided goals becuase I have never sat down and listed any. My journey this year is to make choices that are different then my usual. Get out of my comfort zone. Perhaps these change, while still aligned with my values and passion, will bring me new and wonderful experiences.

  37. Kiri on January 27th, 2006 2:22 am

    After reading a few things on your site, I’ve decided on my theme for the year. Imperfection. What, you say? It seems I am a perfectionist. I waste so much time staying with a job, any job, until it is 100% perfect, no matter what. Sounds good, until you realize this means things like doing a perfect paint job on the rear side of a doghouse or proofreading and spellchecking hatemail to spammers. If I could just learn that for many things in life, 90% is just fine, and save the 100% for important things, I would have plenty of time to do all the other things in life I never seem to be able to work in. At the moment, I’m one of those people who spends so much time planning, I don’t have time to DO the things I plan. Wish me luck with my efforts to be freed from my dayplanner :)

  38. Chris on January 27th, 2006 3:11 am

    My theme for this year can be summed up by three words: Refocus, renew, rebirth.

    I intend to refocus my efforts on more positive endeavors, regardless of where they may lead me. No longer will I live in fear and allow petty concerns to stand in the way of my progress.

    Each day I must be renewed, I must take time to smell the flowers and appreciate the moment for what it is, lest my batteries run low and life becomes drudgery. Today is what I have; today is what I will use, what I will enjoy. Today is when I will be renewed, and today is when I will experience the benefits of that renewal. Regeneration is not something that will occur once certain achievements have been made. In fact I will accomplish nothing unless I allow myself to be rejuvinated now.

    Each day when I awaken I am essentially a new person. With sleep the old passes away and with waking the new becomes my present reality. The limits of yesterday are gone; today is as a blank canvas. I can paint whatever my heart so desires, and my heart is free of the chains of yesteryear and worries concerning the future. Today I am the best I will ever be right now. Realizing this I will press on without self-imposed limitation. Now is what I have; now is what will be the best possible reality. Each day I am reborn, and each day is the best day of my life.

    It gets no better than now because now is what I have; to throw that away would be the most foolish of all actions.

  39. Goal-Free Living » WELCOME TO GOAL-FREE LIVING on January 27th, 2006 1:10 pm

    [...] Welcome to Goal-Free Living. To learn more, select any of the links to the left or at the top of the page, or scroll down for the most recent blog entries. If you are new to the site, after exploring the “links” to the left (like taking the “Are You a Goalaholic?” quiz), click on “My Favorites” and you will be taken to some of my favorite blog entries from the past year. My favorite is the “share your theme” thread. Inspiring! [...]

  40. kp on January 28th, 2006 10:10 pm


  41. Jane on February 26th, 2006 10:23 am

    discovered you by accident at a time when I’ve been feeling so down-reading this is making me feel better already!

  42. Kathy Felong on March 7th, 2006 12:43 pm

    After taking your quiz, I discovered I’m off the charts as a goal-setter!I am pulled so many different ways — and by so many different goals at work, at home, as a musician, a friend, mother, wife, volunteer, etc. — I’m practically paralyzed. This is a whole new and freeing perspective you’re offering. My theme for 2006 is going to be “clear and simple”: What am I doing? Why am I doing it? And — if I must do it — can I do it more simply? I feel like a weight has already been lifted!

  43. alec du pont on March 15th, 2006 6:31 pm

    My so called “Theme” for 2006 is self mastery

  44. robert whitney on April 25th, 2006 8:13 am

    Its time to plant some new grass !

  45. Beth Means on December 31st, 2006 11:42 pm

    I have been using themes for many years now. Last year, I chose practice. It brought many blessings I wasn’t expecting. We seem to get caught up in a rat race of accomplishment, forgetting to take time for practice. Practice focuses on the present moment and what you are learning right now. It’s a gift worth giving yourself. I think I am going to use it two years in a row.

  46. Joshua on January 1st, 2007 5:31 pm

    I have been thinking about my 2007 theme. I just started a training program at a large IT company. I am in intense training almost every day, my life is starting to come together-and I’m having fun doing it! I’m also getting married and becoming a father to my fiance’s 8 yr old daughter. Many new things and parts of myself are emerging. So here is my Theme. I welcome any feedback or suggestions to tighten it up.


    The emergence of wisdom through the calm settled mind
    The emergence of creating value after honing skills and gaining experiences
    The emergence of direction and opportunity after persistence and hard work
    The emergence of love and loyalty after patience and kindness with others
    The emergence of Financial Independence after careful planning and discipline
    The emergence of my professional personality and reputation after building new relationships and demonstrating talent in sales

  47. Howard Wight on January 2nd, 2007 11:33 am

    Simplify your life. Eliminate the unnecessary and the unimportant. Most of what we have or want is unnecessary or unimportant.

  48. Richard Brandt on January 4th, 2007 12:58 am

    My new year’s resolution theme is get and give. Being aware so we don’t give forever for no benefit – or expect to get something for nothing.

    So far in (three days)I’ve come up with
    “Linking these”
    For example.
    A: I have had enough to eat to not be hungry.

    A-1 Today, let urges to eat be your teachers when they show up, which they will, allow yourself to practice treating yourself and your situation with patience and kindness.
    A-2 Savor that peice of cake.
    A-3 Throw away some of that ice cream

    To me get and give just might create a way of interacting with things in a fun and potentially valuable way. For me it seems to invite action instead of meditation, and thus may produce more fun and learning than the term balance.

  49. alexandra on January 15th, 2007 12:23 am

    Abundance – Wisdom – Power – Knowledge

    happy 2007 to all.

  50. My New Year’s Resolution : Stephen Shapiro on January 2nd, 2008 7:05 am

    [...] Please share your New Year’s Theme. [...]

  51. Robert Monteux on January 2nd, 2008 9:38 am

    In my efforts to build a coaching practice, I’ve decided that my theme this year must be “Walk the Talk.” Do the things I am asking my clients to do.