Coincidentally, right at the start of the pandemic lockdowns in my area, I declared 2020 the Year of Healthy Habits. While there were plenty of health-related events going on at the time, not a ton of them were being generated by me.
I mostly spent the time trying not to freak myself out, supporting my wife, who was basically working 24/7 at our local hospital, and being (essentially) the sole caregiver to a kindergartener. So, the Year of Healthy Habits didn’t quite have the impact I had hoped.
But what is all this “Year of…” business? If you are not familiar with the idea of Yearly Themes, it’s a term coined by the hosts of the Cortex podcast (one of my favorites). Yearly Themes are basically an improved version of a traditional New Year’s Resolution. You can get a more detailed explanation straight from the source via this video:
I’ve always liked the idea, but I only set a yearly theme once. While my Year of Healthy Habits had some unique circumstances that impacted its success, the idea of “healthy habits” still influences my life to this day.
Inspired by the 2024 Yearly Themes episode of Cortext, I decided to try again.
The first step of setting a yearly theme is reflection. So, I decided to spend time during a few walks through my neighborhood and hikes in a local state park to think about this.
I kept coming back to this nagging thought that has persisted in my brain for quite a while now. This background notion that I believe I have the knowledge, skills, and resources to achieve my goals, but I haven’t been applying them correctly to my life.
Look no further than the fact that I have been aware of, liked, and found effective, the concept of Yearly Themes for many years but never revisited them.
I feel like I have been leaving opportunities “on the table” by not giving myself the advice or structure that I would give the students in my classroom, the project team at work, or my own child.
With this idea identified, I began to ruminate once more on my morning walks.
I grabbed the audiobook version of The 12-Week Year for cheap on New Year’s Day and decided to listen to a chapter every morning while walking. It didn’t take long (~10 paragraphs) until I got to this sentence:
“The barrier standing between you and the life you are capable of living is a lack of consistent execution”Excerpt From The 12-Week Year Brian P. Moran & Michael Lennington
In the Yearly Theme video above, CGP Grey talked about resonance. How the idea of your yearly theme needs to resonate with your brain. While I don’t think I give The 12-Week Year a ringing endorsement, for some reason, in that moment, the Year of Execution resonated with me.
Year of Execution
What I want from the Year of Execution is to make sure I am consistently applying my skills, strategies, and knowledge across all areas of my life and use that collective effort to do things on purpose.
I have led many projects and teams to achieve great things, but I have never taken that same strategic view of my life as a whole and thought about how my efforts align.
I am experienced in helping my students set goals and holding them accountable, but I am the first to excuse myself for not closing the Activity Rings on my Apple Watch.
In short, I want to do the things I know work, and I want to do them across the board.
The whole idea of a yearly theme is that they are north stars that give a general direction, but there are plenty of opportunities to deviate, iterate, and change. We will see how this year goes, but I am feeling good right now.
Let me know in the comments if you have a yearly theme, or if you are thinking about trying one!