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How to Set Your Word/Theme for 2016 + FREE worksheet!

Most articles and advice out there is all about how to set SMART goals, apps to help you out, how to stay motivated…

Those kinds of things.

But when you’re just starting out, all of that stuff is a waste of time -- if you’re missing one of the key ingredients: A CLEAR & MEANINGFUL DIRECTION.

A lot of articles will tell you, 'This is the best way to achieve goals! Here are the best apps ever!'. It’s like saying here are your shoes, your towel, your bottle of water, put on some sunscreen, now you’re ready to run this race!!!

But wait…

Am I even in the right race? Am I facing the right direction? Do I run north? East? West? What is this race? Why am I running? Where am I?
Nooooooooooooooo *gives up on goals* *screen fades out*

And that’s pretty much the story of many people in the world:

They run the race that they’re “expected” to run, they mindlessly follow the crowd like sheep in a herd, they go for finish lines they have no idea who set.
They set the same generic goals again and again.

So every beginning of the year, it’s just like copy-pasting last year’s list. The same goals that are the bland definition of what it means to "make this year better". Again, we write:

  • Lose weight
  • Exercise more
  • Get organised
  • Travel more
  • Save more

Same old, same old. It’s no wonder we forget these goals after the first week of January. They’re like a list of generic errands we have to run every other week. These goals aren’t compelling. They don't stick.

But you know what human brains remember more?


And that’s how I view my theme (or word or phrase) for the year:

When I set a theme for my year, it's me saying,
'This is the story I want to write for myself this year.'

A lot of you have asked me about this process, how I set my theme for the year. I’ve written a lot about the topic from years before, but I’ve never really gone into much detail about how I do it.

Here are my themes for the year since 2010:

I’ve found that having a theme for the year gives you a clear story and definite direction for where you want to grow for the year.

Instead of having a list of random goals thrown together, you sort of shape your direction in a way where you ask yourself:

- What kind of person do I want to be this year?
- What kind of growth do I most want to see from myself this year?

Many times, I've asked my readers about their theme for the year, and while I would get some gems here and there, there are also A LOT who would throw out some random generic phrase or word like:

  • Travel More
  • Explore
  • Live With Passion
  • Be Brave
  • Go For It

I’m not going to sugarcoat this… this is my reaction when I read those generic themes…


Did you get that off a motivational poster? When you read it, does it actually remind you of anything specific? Does it trigger any emotional connection to your goals? What’s your basis? *BANGS HEAD ON TABLE*

YOU GUYS. Come on. You can do better than that.

And so! After all that frustration, I decided to come up with a worksheet to (hopefully) help you set a clearer theme for the year that you actually feel connected to.




What’s Your Story?

Step 1: List down 1 to 3 goals in each growth area specified in the worksheet (you can add/subtract categories as you wish). Visualize this: “Where do I want to be in my [insert growth area here] by December 31, 2016?”

For example, in the growth area of FINANCE, your goals could be.

    • Pay off credit card debt by February.
    • Save ____ in your savings account by Dec. 31, 2016.
    • Open a life insurance account and deposit ____ monthly starting March.


Step 2: Answer this in 1 sentence: If I achieve these 1-3 goals what would be the main value I would have learned by the end of the year? Or, if I achieve these 1-3 goals what kind of person would I have become by the end of the year?

Again, going back to the finance example above, you can say:
“I would have learned how to be more responsible with money”
“I would be more financially independent.”


Step 3: Answer this in 1 sentence: What is the importance of achieving these goals, learning this value, or becoming this kind of person by the end of the year?

So you can say: “This is important because I want to start saving up for my long-term goals, like a car/house/business/etc.”


Step 4: Now it’s time to pick your overarching theme or word or phrase.

Zoom out from your answers for a second, and read through everything. Is there a bigger story that ties everything together? Is there a pattern that you recognise? Any similarities that your goals + values + purpose all share?

I’ll give you one of my favourite examples from one of my students in the Braver Goals workshop (The Goal Setting Guide for Creatives).

Some of her goals included:

    • Spend less on unnecessary whims, so she can save up for a new laptop.
    • Open up a savings account.
    • Save P 30,000 for a trip to Japan.
    • Enroll in creative workshops.
    • Enroll in a yoga studio, so she can start having a healthier lifestyle.

So if you can see here, there's a pattern of money, saving, and enrolling in experiences.

She told me that in the past year, she had spent her money very mindlessly on everyday necessities and whims. She said that she wanted to grow this year by spending her money on her growth and betterment.

So the theme she chose for the year was:
“Invest in Myself”.

I thought that that was such a beautiful way to weave all her goals into one story. :)


Now it’s YOUR turn to weave your goals into one theme. And to help you, I devised a fun little worksheet that you can use to determine your goal.




Remember, it doesn’t have to make sense to anybody else: it just has to make sense to you.

When choosing your word/theme, I want you to choose one that, when you hear it or see it, it triggers a BIG emotional connection to you. It makes you remember where you want to be headed — immediately and powerfully.


PS. Your 2 action steps for today:

  • Action Step #1: Download the worksheet and answer it ASAP (before you get lazy).
  • Action Step #2: Hit reply in the comments section below, and tell me what your theme is for the year.

Get to work! :)


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