This time of year, many of us take a moment and write down our resolutions.  Some even take that further and set up some goals.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love me some goals.  But they need to be real goals.  With actual measurable results and somewhat of a plan (at least in the sense of what to do that can get me started).

None of this “I will lose weight” and then never get my butt to the gym because I forgot to schedule it.  None of this “I will be a six-figure coach” and then not working on your business, your marketing or yourself.

So instead of setting myself up for what often, by February, turns out to be what some might call a failure, I like to focus on having a theme to guide me throughout the year.  I’ve found this to not only be easier to keep up, but also very positive and rewarding.

For many years, my theme (hell, it was my mantra) was BELIEVE.  I surrounded myself with that word.

I held on to this word as I drove cross country, job-less, friend-less and home-less to start a new life in Albuquerque.  I held tight as I worked my way through grad school and started building my client roster.  And I was still clutching tightly to BELIEVE when I moved out here to LA to be with my (now) husband and start this new life.

Two years ago, that word stopped being me.  It no longer felt like it was guiding me or giving me strength and solace.  I realized I was always thinking about JOY and LETTING GO.  So I kind of play around with those to.

Last year, I decided that my word would be CREATE.  Or should I say, the word kinda of picked me?  For weeks, nearly every conversation had someone mentioning my creativity or that I needed to create something or other.  It even showed up in gifts.

And of course, once I decided that create was my new theme, I also started feeling RELEASE calling out to me.  And then mid-way through the year IMPERFECTION came in and made itself comfortable.

Which is fine considering one can really create if one can’t release themselves from the need to be perfect.  It made for a great year.

So I’m thinking that this year, I’m allowing myself to pick one word today (EXPAND) and at the same time give myself permission to change things up again mid-year.  I say, whatever works.  I mean if I take a mid-year look at my goals, why not allow for a mid-year tweak of my word/theme, right?

To help you with developing and embracing your new theme for the year, I’m sharing 5 Steps for Living You New Year’s Theme

Brainstorm to come up with a word or short phrase that you’d like to experience for the new year.*  It could be something that guides you (LETTING GO, CREATIVITY, PASSION, BELIEVE) or it could be something that empowers you (STRENGTH, GUTSY, CHANGE, ADVENTURE ).  It could also be something that you’d like to embody or embrace (MASTERY, GRACE, FORGIVENESS, AUTHENTICITY).  It’s your word and it’s entire up to you.  There’s no right or wrong here.  If you pick the “wrong” word, you’ll know it as it won’t feel like it fits or makes sense.  Play around with it a bit.

Create your intention around your wordpassion and strength come to me easily and effortlessly throughout the year. Remember an intention isn’t a goal, it’s not about something you’re going to DO. It’s more about who you’re going to BE for the year.  If that feels a bit too out there for you, try a more simple, I am… statement. I am creative.  I am forgiving.  Each and every day, I am more and more graceful.

Play around with pictures and words from magazines and create a bit of a collage (or vision board) around your new theme, word or intention.  What does someone who lives a life of strength look like?  What would it look like if someone was adventurous or gutsy?  This doesn’t have to be a big deal. You can cut out a couple pictures and frame them to sit on your desk or bedside table.  You could post up a catchy title or two on your bathroom mirror.  Or you could go all out and fill up a poster board.  Then put this collage or vision board front and center where you’ll see it throughout your day.

Personally, I’ve found that using a spiral sketch book allows me to create as many mini-vision boards as I like throughout the year. I can also change my focus as much as I want (one page for biz, one for health, one for vacations, etc).  I can also prop it up on my desk to look at throughout the day.

Go back to your intention and brainstorm some things that this new you would be doing in your themed year.  Write these goals up and put them around your space (your desk, your mirror, in your wallet and your car).  Let them be reminders of your theme and how you wish to live your life this year.

Create a script for living your new themed life.  Sit down and write out exactly how your day would play out.  Or my favorite, pretend to write an email to your best friend (or spouse or parents, whoever you’d want to share your excitement with) about something new and exciting that happened because you’re living this new, themed life.  Pretend you just had your best day at work, or you’re just back from your dream vacation.  Describe it all.  Everything you experience; the sights, the smells, the feel, all of it.  Don’t worry about the how it happened, focus instead on what happened and how it felt to experience it.

Any of these five tools can help you to live a resolution-free new year.  And all of these together pack one helluva powerful punch!

So how have you started your New Year?  Are you more of a resolution and goals kinda person or an intentions and theme kinda person?

* a great resource for discovering your “word of the year” is Christine Kane’s Word of the Year Discovery Tool. You can learn more about it here.