Yearly Themes

An overview of the concept of yearly themes and how we've used them at MakeWorkWork.
Yearly Themes

A Yearly Theme is a relatively new concept for annual planning popularized by CGP Grey and Myke Hurley via the Cortex podcast and its associated concept ‘Theme System’, who developed it in contrast with typical New Years resolutions. For some goals make sense, and here are our resources on yearly goal setting if that’s your preference.

For those looking for an even gentler option still, there is a way to focus that wish for self-improvement and build it into a theme. A theme is normally captured in a word or a short phrase that can then serve as a north star for all the decisions waiting to be made in the new year, big and small.

The word can be straight-forward and clear like: year of reading, year of health, year of traveling. The word can also be aspirational and capture something a bit more abstract: year of intention, year of harmony, year of growth.

“Not all tools have to be blunt”– CGP Grey, theme video referenced 42:11 on MWW38

The perfect summary of a yearly theme is that ‘not all tools have to be blunt to work’, as CGP Grey’s put in his framing of the concept in his video about it (linked below). We are used (or at least some of us are!) to precise tools such as KPIs, goal setting, and targets etc. that work well in certain settings, like within a corporate structure. But our lives aren’t a corporate structure, so a gentler approach that still has a clear sense of direction sometimes becomes the perfect tool to use – especially on a longer time-scale like a season or a year.

So if anyone is jaded by the idea of new year’s resolutions, unrealistic goals, or making life feel too much like work – giving the idea of a theme of the year a try could be for you.

Habbi and Hailley have both experimented with yearly themes, and while it didn’t resonate with Hailley – having a theme is something Habbi has had every year since 2019. The episodes where you’ll find us discuss them are MWW12, MWW21, MWW 22, MWW 28, MWW29 and MWW37.

Some tips from Habbi on making a strong yearly theme: “For me two things matter: 1) the word has to ✨ resonate ✨ and recognizing 2) “not all tools have to be blunt”.”

Your Theme video by CGP Grey