How to develop a New Year’s theme that works for you

Fewer than half of New Year’s resolutions are successful within the first six months of the year.[1]

The problem is that typical resolutions are too concrete, making them difficult to stick to. “Lose 20 lbs”, “exercise more”, “spend less money;” whatever it may be, many resolutions don’t have the wiggle room to accommodate real life. And this can be a set-up for disappointment.

If you’re ringing in this New Year with big goals and fresh aspirations, try swapping-out your resolution for a New Year’s theme.


What is a New Year’s theme?

Just like it sounds, a New Year’s theme is a more general version of a resolution, but with a positive twist. While resolutions are typically made to correct problem behaviors, a theme is designed to boost your well-being and participation in something that’s important to you.

With a theme, you don’t need to define specific goals or achievements. You’ll simply need to keep your theme in mind (and possibly a few post-it notes as reminders around your home and work) and follow the path that unfolds. This can be a welcoming way to approach the New Year, especially if it’s your second or even third attempt at the same resolution.


Why is a New Year’s theme better than a resolution?

There are many reasons why a New Year’s theme is better than a resolution. Themes:

  • Are flexible and non-restrictive
  • Keep you open to new possibilities and changes in direction
  • Help you experience life more fully
  • Celebrate positive actions without dwelling on flaws
  • Are a natural way to stimulate change


Tips for developing a New Year’s theme

Creating a successful New Year’s theme needs careful thought. Here are some tips for getting started:

  • Base your theme on a word that is meaningful and motivating to you. A word that will hold its importance through the entire year.
  • Keep your theme broad so that it can evolve with you and your changing needs throughout the year. In other words, make it something that can adapt to all of the unexpected twists and turns that life takes.
  • Replace a bad habit with something positive. For example, instead of making a resolution to spend less money, create a theme about reusing and repurposing. By focusing on ways to reuse what you already have you’ll take the focus off of not spending money.
  • Do not define a specific outcome. This will keep doors open to new directions and interests.
  • Display your theme. Whether it’s with post-it notes on your computer or a customized poster, displaying your theme will help remind you of its importance.

Examples of themes

The most popular New Year’s resolutions relate to quitting smoking, losing weight, and exercising.1 Here are some themes that would make optimistic alternatives:

  • Nourish There’s a big difference between being well-fed and well-nourished. Nourishing your body means filling your plate with fresh, nutrient-rich fruits, vegetables, pulses, nuts, seeds, and whole grains, in addition to lean sources of protein and plenty of water. A nourishing diet supports physical and mental health, in addition to healthy weight management and energy. Creating a theme around the word nourish can make for a stimulating year. Learn to cook new plant-based recipes, awaken your senses with fresh herbs and spices, get to know your local farmers, and learn about local cuisine while travelling. An important part of nourishing your body is supporting intestinal and digestive health with a daily probiotic supplement, such as Ultimate Probiotic 12/12 Formula.
  • Movement – Life is full of reasons to sit, whether it’s working at your computer, watching TV, commuting by vehicle, studying at your desk, or lounging. All of these contribute to a sedentary lifestyle, which may increase your risk of health problems, such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, sleep disturbances, and more. You can add more movement into each day with simple changes, such as taking brief stretch breaks throughout your work day, walking your kids to school, biking to work, turning your coffee break into a walk break, and taking the stairs.
  • Sustainable – Adopting more eco-friendly habits can satisfy your craving for change while also making a positive influence on the world. A sustainable theme can take many directions, whether it’s meal planning to minimize food waste, ditching the car, choosing locally made products, taking shorter showers, eating more plant-based foods, or hanging your clothes to dry.

Unplug We live in a world where we’re constantly connected with technology. Tweets, text messages, emails, and Google Home provide information at your beck and call. While technology makes life more convenient, it can also be a distraction from the real world (not to mention addicting). Unplugging from technology on a daily basis creates more time to spend with friends and family, will help become more physically active, and begin new hobbies. Unplugging can also improve sleep habits, communication with loved ones, and stress levels.[2]

A year to remember

Creating a New Year’s theme will help guide your interests in a positive fashion. But remember, themes can be created and followed throughout the year. It doesn’t necessarily have to be New Year’s before you decide to make a healthy change. Take advantage of anytime you feel motivated, whether it’s your birthday, a new season, or an “ah-ha moment.”


[1] Norcross JC, Mrykalo MS, Blagys MD. Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of Clinical Psychology. 2002 Apr; 58(4):397-405.

[2]Shows GD, Albinsson PA, Ruseva TB et al. Technology Over-Consumption: Helping Students
Find Balance in a World of Alluring Distractions. Atlantic Marketing Journal. 2018 winter; 7(1).