What’s Your Theme?


It’s the end of the year which for many of us is a time of reflection–especially this last week between Christmas and the New Year.

I used to create resolutions every year, but last year my friend Cairene introduced me to the idea of creating a theme for the coming year instead.

The idea behind an annual theme is to provide yourself a unifying idea or motif that you can return to and interpret over the course of time and to help you connect any specific goals you might create with your highest desires for yourself.

And you can’t break your theme either, so there’s no failure factor which is a nice change of pace from the inevitable breaking that seems to happen within a few weeks or months for most of us with New Year’s resolutions.

Your Creativity

This year I’m inviting you to choose a theme specifically for your creativity–your goals, dreams, secret wishes–however humble or lofty they might be.

It’s useful to keep it to a few words. Take your time thinking about what you want for your creative self, and how that might be captured as a theme. Your theme might come to you instantly, or it might take a few weeks to evolve.

To give you some ideas about what your theme might look like, here are some suggestions to spark your imagination:

Possible Themes:

  • Dig Deeper
  • Loving Patience (with yourself of course)
  • Allow
  • Be Consistent
  • One Foot in Front of the Other
  • Show Up
  • Look and Listen
  • Honor
  • Be Joyful
  • Be Present
  • Acceptance
  • Community
  • Be Committed
  • Take Risks

Tag Lines

As you consider what theme will most benefit you in 2011, you might also want to develop a tagline. Last year, for instance, my theme for my business was Break Through and my tagline was Have Faith.

I felt like this combination was the perfect expression of what I was hoping for myself–to push past some self-imposed barriers while also not forcing things or fretting–having faith that things would unfold the way they should.

So you could resonate with one of the suggestions from the list above and use it for your theme–and then use another word from the list as your perfect tagline.

For instance, your theme could be Take Risks with the tagline Acceptance–this tagline can help you remember to be on your own side as you take your risks, which is important if you commit to sticking your neck out on a regular basis.

Or perhaps you’d like your theme to be Be Present (with your creativity), with the tagline Allow.

It can be easier to stop judging yourself and let yourself Be Present with where you are in your creative process when you Allow yourself to make mistakes, make bad stuff, or be a beginner.

See how it works? I love it.

What’s Your Theme?

So, what do you think? Are you ready to create yourself a theme for your creativity this 2011? Do you know what that is already, or are you just putting on your thinking cap?

Please share your thoughts in the comments, I’d love to hear from you!

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  1. Maria says:

    THIS is a GREAT Idea!!
    I have a hard time thinking up on my own so I used your list as a guide. I would like my theme to be Acceptance. Accept the fact that my Art is “good enough” and not something I need to put away in my attic for many years to come.
    But now I struggle with the tagline. :-(

    Any ideas are appreciated.
    Thank You !!

  2. Sarah says:

    Maria, Acceptance is a great theme–and you don’t have to have a tagline, it’s just a suggestion. But maybe it could be combined with a word like “unhidden” or “open” or “opening up” to touch on your comment about always tucking your work away til it’s “better”. As you grow into accepting your work as it is, you can share it more openly? What do you think? If not, just keep thinking and something will pop into your mind! :-)

  3. Cheri Stripling says:

    Once again you have inspired me with your words of wisdom. It feels like you’re the good fairy sitting on my shoulder, always pushing me on. thank-you for the effort and consistantly great advise. You are my friend in my mind!

  4. Sarah says:

    It makes me so happy to hear that Cheri! :-)

  5. Cheri Stripling says:

    wish you had a book out for your pearls of wisdom

  6. Sarah says:

    OH, that’s one of my secret goals for 2011! Thanks for saying that–it inspires me to do it!

  7. Christy says:

    My theme for 2011 is “loosen up” and my tag line “letting go of the reins” or something along that line.

    I have developed some notion in the last few years that my art could only be ‘this way or that style’ and I have built a lot of rules for myself.

    Rules that I felt I needed and now realize I have outgrown them and they are constraining me and holding me back.

    So 2011 is the time for me to let go of some of the rules and open myself up a bit more to my art.

    Thanks so much for your words, I had been thinking and thinking about this but it wasn’t until I read your post today that the theme idea gave me a purposeful way to apply it and write it down!

  8. Eva says:

    Not quite sure yet what I want for my theme. It may be Recycle/Redo. I started in the fall with buying old dolls and dolls that probably came from the bottom of the toy boxes, cleaned them up and made new clothes for them. I want to continue doing this in the coming year. After 30 years of making and designing teddy bears and other plushies I decided it was time for a change. It has been a big conmittment as it is a whole other market than what I had been doing. So far it has gone well but I need to find more outlets and be more selective in the dolls that I buy to redo. It has been a fun project and I want to expand on it. Need to learn more so there is lots of study ahead for the new year.

  9. Sarah says:

    Great theme Christy! And I love your comment about the rules–it’s so true how quickly they can tangle us up instead of set us free…

  10. Teresa Riley says:

    LOVE this idea! Got my creative thoughts spinning…AND my theme is “Organization” with a tagline of “Moving forward”!
    When I am organized, moving forward happens! So my 2011 will be organized:)
    Thanks again!

  11. Lesley Glenn says:

    Well, I dont actually call it a theme but my words by which I build my year around.

    This years words are: Momentum and Frolic.

    MOMENTUM – to continue to move forward at every level in my life. This includes physically, spiritually, emotionally and professionally. I love this word.
    FROLIC – which seems to be such a silly word, but I love it. It means to be playful and to be merry. I want to FROLIC through this next year and be playful and bring that to others along I meet along the way. Learning to FROLIC enhances ones life.

    I also chose two colors since color has so much meaning in who i am and what I do in my art for healing classes.

    Yellow- which for me is energy and joy.
    Red – which is passion and determination.

    Last year I even had a picture to go along with my words, and this year, I am not sure but ARROWS keep coming up for me, so I might go with that.

    Needing to make my inspiration board for the year so will get started on that today.

    Thanks for this time to reflect.

  12. Sarah says:

    FROLIC!!! Wow, I love that word and everything it means. And I LOVE that you added colors and images for your year as well. What a great idea…I do that for the meditation at the beginning of the collage class, but I hadn’t thought of it as part of creating a theme. Thanks for sharing!

  13. Kay Wallace says:

    First, let me say that I couldn’t help but eavesdrop on others’ comments before leaving my own! What an awesome group of creative women assembled here!

    Next, I need to share with Maria a line from a draft of my next blog: “If you really, REALLY want to be a good scrapbooker, then you have to SCRAP the idea that you will never be a really good scrapbooker! Yep! It’s that simple!”

    And, finally, my theme for 2011 is SAY NO TO NEGATIVITY. My tag line is REPLACE TOLERANCE WITH ACCEPTANCE.

    Thanks for challenging us to be better humans!


  14. Lunar Hine says:

    I’m in a post-Christmas slump, so my new year theme is: Be joyful! with a tagline taken from Marianne Williamson’s Return to Love; Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles: Choose love.
    This covers food choices, word choices when the heat’s on in a conversation, as well as creative choices. I’m in my first year of being self-employed as a creatrix, so it’s timely for me to focus on keeping it joyful and not getting mired in it being profitable. We’ve never starved yet!
    Thank you for this idea. It’s a relief to exchange my looong list of resolutions for a positive theme.
    Wishing us all a joyful new year
    Lunar Hine

  15. Maria Davis says:

    Sarah and Kay (Wallace)….Thank YOU!! Such easy words and tools but never in my mind. Thank You for those ideas. I really like those. Actually…I do art for fun; ,many have suggested I sell it….nevertheless…they end up in my Attic. LOL So…i’ll continue to do Art for fun and therapy ,,,while using both of your advice as well.
    Thank you all for sharing. I am glad to be part of such a wonderful and sharing group.

  16. Angel Ray says:

    I love this article! My 2011 theme will be “Finding Balance” Balance in my health, time spent with family, friends, work, and all creative endeavors. Balance in my artwork, finding just the right highs and lows, contrasts of shadow and light, and being prepared with seasonally appropriate themes for all the holidays.

  17. R.M. Koske says:

    The idea of setting an intention or feeling for the year rather than a goal is one I’ve run into before. I’ve already decided that my word for 2011 is “sustainable.” I really want to learn to manage my energy and my time to develop habits that I can sustain and continue.

    My creative theme needs to tie into that, I think, but nothing has hit me yet…definitely something I’ll be thinking about. I never would have thought of making a specific theme for my creativity, and I love the idea. Lovely idea, Sarah, really wonderful.

  18. I love the idea of coming up with a theme instead of a resolution for the coming year. Resolutions are generally impossible to keep for 365 days and a theme for the year is just so much simpler. I think “create” might be a good word for me to go for this year. To create more than I have in 2010 and to “believe” that I can do it. Yep, believe in myself and my abilities and to create from what comes into my mind and let myself be creative. Thanks for the terrific idea Sarah.

    Hugs XX

  19. Sarah says:

    Lunar, your theme–Be Joyful and Choose Love–wow. And thanks for mentioning your desire to ‘choose love” “when the heat’s on in a conversation” as you wonderfully put it–this is a long term goal of mine too!!

  20. My theme is the same every year : the creation of joy, and the creation of meaning. It’s my life purpose, and undercuts everything I do as an artist and as a person.

  21. Debera Dowell says:

    Sarah what a great idea!!
    resolutions never make it very far for me and then the inevitable guilt and shame follow for giving up, being a loser, blah, blah, blah.
    while at a women’s retreat in the fall a theme word for this year was given to me and that was forgiveness, it has been a great word so far, so I’m going to keep that word and ad a couple more, not to over complicate things but these just jumped out at me while i read your article, SHOW UP and BELIEVE so I’ll show up and believe and allow forgiveness to keep me open and able to receive all that love offers me.
    thanks again for just being you.

  22. Kay Wallace says:

    Just read your post, Debera, and love the word FORGIVENESS. It’s a win-win situation, whether forgiving yourself or someone else!

  23. [...] Last week, I talked about choosing a theme for your creativity in 2011 and I LOVED-LOVED-LOVED all the theme ideas that everyone shared in the comments. So smart, thoughtful, and inspiring. [...]

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