I love fresh starts, which is why setting a theme for the new year is one of my favorite things to do. In this post, I want to share my theme for 2020 and how I plan to follow it throughout the year.
Set a yearly theme
I have been setting yearly themes since 2018 and have found it to be an excellent decision-making tool. For example, my theme for 2018 was “Resiliency” — I wanted to design a lifestyle that was resilient to external factors (for example, the political climate in the US). The theme helped me make decisions that aligned with what was important at that point in my life. My theme for 2019 was “Prioritize Play”. I am a workaholic, which means that if left to my own devices, I will create work tasks for myself and then execute on them. This throws my work/life balance out of whack. So in 2019, I set the theme as “Prioritize Play”, which meant that I chose fun activities over activities that felt like work. For example, given a choice between making a YouTube video (which is more work than play, believe me) and playing Dungeons and Dragons, my theme dictated that I play Dungeons and Dragons. My mental health and quality of life saw drastic improvements, thanks to prioritizing play!
As I was pondering over what I want the theme of 2020 to be, I realized that I am craving spiritual connection. Growing up in India in a spiritual family, I have been brought up with spiritual practices that focus on internal peace and balance. But since moving to the US to fulfill my ambitions, I have been chasing opportunities and being externally focused. I feel like I have lost the spiritual connection that was once the foundation of my lifestyle. Hence in 2020, I want to go back to my spiritual roots and “Prioritize Well-Being”.
Change the success metrics
The follow-up to the idea of setting a yearly theme is to change the metrics by which I judge how “successful” my week. For my 2018 theme of “Resiliency”, my success metrics were the traditional productivity metrics — how many PRs did I open, how many blog posts I wrote, and so on. For 2019’s theme of “Prioritizing Play”, my success metric was how many fun activities did I participate in that week. For 2020, with the yearly theme of “Prioritize Well-Being”, I want to measure the success of the week in terms of the self-care/well-being activities I do in the week. Did I eat healthily? Did I sleep well? Did I do Yoga and Pranayam? We are going back to basics, people.
What this means is that even if I have a fantastic week at work but I don’t do the well-being/self-care activities, it would not be a successful week for me. I have found that aligning the success metrics to the yearly theme helps me make the mindset shift that is crucial to achieving my overall goal for the year.
The Year of No
The final tool in my arsenal of achieving my goal of establishing well-being and balance in my life is saying no by default. I suffer from the “shiny, new idea” syndrome — I get excited by new project ideas and proposals and only later do I realize that I don’t have the time and energy to see them through. So I end up working on several demanding projects simultaneously because I have committed to them, but I am miserable the whole time.
I am not the only one who suffers from this syndrome. It’s a common affliction in my social group, as evidenced by this conversation on Twitter. One of the tips I received in that conversation was to make my default answer to new project requests be “Let me think about it”, thereby giving me a few days to see if I am still excited about the idea or if my enthusiasm for the project has waned. If I am still excited about the idea, I should definitely take it up. If not, I can say no and save myself and others a lot of anxiety and mental stress. This will help me be intentional, selective, and mindful in my projects, thus helping me achieve a sense of balance and well-being.
So that’s my yearly theme and goals for 2020! I would love to know what your theme and goals are. Comment down below and let me know!