Surprisingly, this post isn’t about theming your class.
No, it’s about the idea of setting a theme for your life, as a way to guide your decisions and actions in a certain direction in support of a certain goal. I’ve heard this idea a few times, and it always sounded interesting. Theming is a powerful tool, and we see it used everywhere: television marathons, store promotions, even school curriculum. It’s a great way to set the tone for your life, and ensure that you’re headed in the direction you want to go.
Normally, people set “New Year’s Resolutions”. The problem is, that opportunity only comes around, well, once a year. And with such a broad time frame to “fulfill” your goals, it can be easy to lose motivation or even forget over time. Habit research shows that for goals to be successful, they need to be easy to be held accountable to. That means they need to be:
Clear: Setting a goal that’s broad isn’t going to do much. If you say you want to “be healthier”, it’s hard to understand what exactly that means, and to determine whether or not you’re successful. Narrow your goals for best success, and for easy assessment. For example, “I will save desserts for special occasions like birthdays, rather than every day.” or “I will organize my budget to prioritize organic and fresh produce.”
Realistic: It can be easy to get carried away when deciding how you want to change your life. But we all know losing 20 pounds in two weeks won’t be healthy, sustainable, or even possible. Keep your goals at a balance between challenging and attainable- for example, “I want to be able to deadlift 5 more pounds each week this month.” as opposed to, “I want to deadlift twice my body weight by the end of this month.”
Deadlined: Give yourself checkpoints. Your goals can go on indefinitely, but there should be “accountability check-ins” to keep you motivated along the way. Great choices for the pursuit of health are non-scale challenges such as a race or competition. I ran a mud race because I wanted to challenge my strength and other physical abilities. Knowing I had that race coming up motivated me to keep eating well (and enough to fuel my body) and keep building strength.
The best way to supplement these effective goals, however, is a theme.
Set a theme for your life that supports these goals and pushes you toward good decisions. Try setting one each month, so your focus is shifted, but still on the same general scheme. If you’re pursuing health (this seems to be the most common goal), your theme for August could be “Strength”, and your theme for September could be “Flexibility”.
The great thing about themes is that they’re broad, and evolutionary. August might be around strength, but that doesn’t mean you’re only focused on lifting more weight in the gym. You’re also pushing yourself to look into developing mental strength, perseverance, and confidence. In September you won’t only be stretching, but you might push yourself out of your comfort zone and test your ability to adapt to new challenges and situations with grace and ease. Maybe you try new things, like a yin class or going for a walk in the morning before work.
Theming allows you to shift your attention from one specific goal, to a broad, overarching lifestyle change.
If your goal was weight loss, you might become addicted to the scale, or only focus on dietary changes. You might be obsessive about getting your workout in every morning, but then sit on the couch the rest of the day. If losing weight will make you healthier, it’s okay to keep that goal, but don’t make it the theme of your life. Get down to the root of why it’s your goal- why are you pursuing it? Do you want to keep up with your kids on the playground? Make your theme Connection and Playfulness. Do you want to feel more comfortable in your own skin? Make your theme Confidence. Do you want to simply feel better? Make your theme Nourishment and Healing.
You’ll be surprised at what a difference it will make in your attitude and choices. Suddenly, everything you do has a purpose and intention behind it. Your whole life will shift into a new beginning. Try keeping a journal and jotting down what you did in support of your theme every day. Share with others your theme, and encourage them to join in on your “themed” activities, too. Take walks with your family to foster connection, educate your children on healthy foods to support nourishment, talk to your loved ones about self-love to develop confidence.
Take out things that don’t support your theme from your life. Friday pizza-movie night might be a fun way to bond, but if your theme right now is focusing on healing, it might not be the best choice. Suggest heading to the park for a picnic instead, or going for a hike on the weekend. Maybe even splurge on some self-care like a pedicure or massage. Stop checking social media accounts that aren’t positively supporting your new lifestyle theme. Just as important as it is to add and change your decisions is to remove negative influences.
Challenge yourself to set a goal for this month. See where it takes you.
My theme for the month of August is Confidence and Consciousness. This has been a theme in a few of my classes, because I love it so much. For one, it just sounds good. For another, it’s something I, and most others, need to work on.
“The confidence to be who we are, and the consciousness to know who that is.”
What’s your goal this month?