Many of you may be thinking about your achievements of 2014 and how best to prepare for a new year. Traditionally, we tend to make lists of ideas or activities that we commit to do. Most of those lists end up getting forgotten within a few months. According to John Norcross, author of Changing For Good, statistics show that at the end of January, some 64 percent of resolvers are still hanging in there. Six months later, that number drops to 44 percent.

Which is why I suggest an alternative method to planning for the year ahead. Rather than drafting a list of behaviors that you want to change, think about what you want the theme of your year to be. For example, this past year, mine was "Abundance with Ease," meaning that my vision centered on achieving great things without sacrificing my well-being and my need for downtime. I struggled a bit the first part of the year, admittedly, but by sticking to my theme and making some significant shifts with my behavior, the rest of the year's happenings were completely aligned.

There are a few reasons why having a theme can be better than a list of resolutions:

1. You can remember it. When you are clear and focused on one theme, it's easy to remember and it's easy to stay focused on any activity that will help align your behavior to your theme and the outcome you want.

2. It's a strategy, not a behavior change. Behavior changes need a detailed plan, support, and focus in order to make the change. Having a theme inspires you to address the behaviors that prevent your theme from happening. It's a yearlong reminder of what is important to you and can make the behavior change that is needed more obvious.

3. It allows you to acknowledge all the good that is happening--as it's happening. When you have a theme for the year, you start to notice when actions are aligned with it. It's a reason to acknowledge all the great things that are happening in your life. We all have a tendency to pay attention to all the negative things--in contrast, having a powerful, inspiring theme allows you to see greatness as it's taking place in your life.

4. It's easy to share. When you have a theme, you can easily share it with others, as oppose to a list of resolutions. One of the keys to achieving anything is to live and breathe the desired achievement. By putting words to something that you want, you enable it to be shared and remembered by those around you. It becomes more tangible, and then, more likely to happen.

5. It's motivating. When you are clear what your theme for the year is, it's a daily reminder to go after those things that fit into the theme. For example, my theme for 2015 is "Beyond Expectations"--now, I am looking for opportunities that go beyond what I could ever expect. It makes achieving more game-like and it motivates me around the idea that I will be experiencing great joy in the months ahead.

Using the holiday down time is a great time to create your theme. Here are some suggestions for how to do it:

Reflect on the year you just had. What would you say the theme of it has been? How has it been positive or negative? What theme inspires you for how you want to live in 2015? How should it be similar or different from 2014?

Think big, but also realistically. You should pick a theme that seems to be a natural progression from years past. You don't want your theme to be too far removed from the real experience you had in 2014. For example, if you just started your business in 2014, then a theme of "Reach Millions" is probably unrealistic. However, you may settle with, "Growth."

Pick a theme that relates to your professional and personal life. Make sure that the words resonate with both--it's meant to be a theme for your life, not just your business.

Once you come up with your theme, try it on for a few days. In other words, say it to yourself and think about whether it fits based on what you're planning for the year. I always think of my theme as I lay out my marketing plan and forecast for the year ahead. If the words feel right over the course of a few days, it's a good fit. If not, then go back to the drawing board.

Having a theme has been one of the most powerful tools I have used in how I operate in business and in life. I hope it can be the same for you. Happy 2015--may it be more than you could ever hope for.

Published on: Dec 23, 2014