One of the ways in which I organise my focus and learning over the course of a year* is to choose an overall theme for the next twelve month period.
When I say theme, what is it that I’m talking about? I mean, a concept that you use as an overarching focus to what’s going on around you, something that ticks away in the back of your mind as you move through the world. A theme is something that motivates and inspires you, something that you’re in some way hyper aware of whenever there is hard stuff, big stuff and good stuff going on in your life. It’s a way to pay attention to something going on that needs that concentrated energy for an extended period.
Past themes I’ve had include ‘Exploration’, ‘Expression’ and last year was ‘Connectionism’**, and I’ll tell you more about this year in a follow up post. Mostly in this post I wanted to set up the idea so that if you wanted to, you could try it for yourself.
A theme is in some ways aspirational, but more tangible in that it’s a space you’re creating to step into, awareness you’re cultivating and knowledge/experiences that you’re valuing.
Sometimes you might choose something that you’d like to work on, something that you’ve been stuck on or something recurring that you’re not all that happy with. You might also choose something positive that you actively want to bring into your life. You can choose anything, but in thinking your way through this, you’ll likely stumble on a concept that feels ‘right’ and clicks with you and where you’re at.
When I take on a theme for the year, I have a strong sense of what I’m bringing to it in the beginning – even if that appears to be little or nothing. For me it’s important to be aware of what some of the ideas and thoughts, desires and assumptions I’m bringing to the theme, because invariably the best of what I’ll learn and grow into, won’t be any of what I already thought I knew. Knowing what I bring to the beginning of a journey like this (and it is a journey – a treasure hunt in a lot of ways), allows me to see more clearly what I really got out of it, expected and unexpected.
As part of setting up the treasure hunt, I also find that listing actions, habits, wishes, goals or projects I want to include as part of the journey is useful and inspiring. This list motivates me to go searching and delving into the theme I’ve taken on, allowing me to really connect with it, immerse myself in it and commit to it fully. These things also give you a way of reflecting on the progress of the journey as you go through the year.
Once the year is done, reflecting on what went on over the course of the year, how it related to the theme, what I learned or saw, felt, appreciated, valued, struggled with, is deeply rewarding. It’s also a great way of letting go of the journey completed in order to embark on a new one! Thus are traditions created.
What kind of journeys and treasure hunts are you embarking on? What do you think these will entail? What do you look forward to on the journey? What are you fearful or nervous about? What actions/habits/wishes/goals/projects are you taking on as part of your theme?
Happy themeing! Stay tuned for my post on 2010 with ‘Connectionism’ and what my 2011 theme is all about!
* When I say ‘year’ I mean that this is generally a useful timeframe with which to go about this theme business. However, if you feel like you’re done with a theme inside a year, great! See what occurs to you as the next theme you might want to take on, perhaps it will take longer, shorter or be much the same – go with what feels right for you.
** I’ll talk more about connectionism in a follow up post but the way I look at it, it takes the idea and concept of connection to a bigger overarching level that I find more interesting and engaging to play with.