“A single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can be sharp and biting or rich and soft and slow.”
I began my tradition of selecting a personal theme for each year after a traumatic experience that forever changed how I view life. It happened on September 18, 2007, and it was the culminating event that ended my first marriage. I spent the following week alone in my house, in deep contemplation.
I tried endlessly to determine what I was meant to learn from this horrible event. My emotions moved from shock and sadness to hope and freedom. As realized that my life had changed suddenly and permanently, two thoughts began to circle through my mind:
- Good to Great
- Pay attention to what you’re attracted to, decide what you want, and then act on it
Good to Great
Good to Great, by Jim Collins, is one of my favorite business books. It is about companies that were good for many years and suddenly became great companies. The author and his team of researchers quantified great companies by how much they outperformed their competition. The book revealed an inflection point when each company transformed from good to great. Then it compared what the great companies did differently from the good companies.
I was a healthy, forty-seven-year-old father of two grown children, with a new business full of potential. As I reflected on my life, it had indeed been a good life. But now, I was at an inflection point. I became determined to figure out what I could do to create a great life.
Decide What You Want and Act on It
The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne, was the inspiration for my other circling thought. I was in a unique position to re-craft my life from good to great. My marriage was ending. My children were living on their own. I could do whatever I wanted, so my first task was to decide exactly what that was.
One of the changes I made in pursuit of my great life is what I call my personal theme for the year. I have always believed in the power of words. I thought that establishing a personal theme for each year would help me focus on what was important and help me create a great life.
One Little Word
Ali Edwards describes the power of words in a way that completely resonates with me. She says, “a single word can be a powerful thing. It can be the ripple in the pond that changes everything. It can be sharp and biting or rich and soft and slow.”
One year before I started my practice of creating a personal theme for each year, Ali began her tradition of choosing one word for herself each January.
She selects, “a word to focus on, mediate on, and reflect upon as I go about my daily life.” Her words have included, “play, peace, vitality, nurture, story, light, up, open and thrive.”
Ali explains, “these words have each become a part of my life in one way or another. They’ve been imbedded into who I am and into who I’m becoming. They’ve been what I’ve needed most (and didn’t know I needed). They’ve helped me to breathe deeper, to see clearer, to navigate challenges, and to grow.”
My Annual Themes
That’s what my annual themes do for me. They become a part of my life and history. They become permanent parts of who I am and who I strive to be. The themes help me focus on what I need most or what I choose to spend time on. They help me to see clearer, to navigate challenges with more grace, and to grow.
I have learned that an annual theme can be a powerful thing.
My annual themes have included:
‘14 Carefree diligence
‘12 Spiritual awareness
‘11 Unconditional love, unlimited abundance, and unperturbable serenity
‘10 Simplicity, strength and love
‘09 Joy, happiness and grace
In 2014, my theme helped remind me that my pursuit of Good to Great is a journey of a lifetime. I tried to approach each day in a relaxed, carefree manner, and let life come to me. But at the same time, I continued forward, one step at a time, progressing diligently in a purposeful direction.
In 2015, I selected AWARENESS to remind me that travel and observation will help me find my way.
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Image via Death to the Stock Photo
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