moving from goals to themes in 2013

For the past several years, I have spent the final days leading up to New Year’s Day thinking about what I want to achieve in the upcoming year and writing down those goals so that I can track them throughout the year.  This has been a very effective way of keeping myself on track especially as the year progresses and I begin to lose some of my initial passion about some of the goals.

Often as I review what I wrote at the beginning of the year, I am pleasantly surprised to find that there are some goals that I have achieved even after forgetting that I wrote them down in the first place.

This year, however, I find myself in a different place.  Throughout the year, as I have read from several different sources, digested what I was reading and thought about how I can implement some of the ideas that have resonated with me, I have realized that, instead of goals, there are some overarching themes that I need to explore.

Undoubtedly some concrete goals will emerge from these themes, but I think writing down detailed goals this early in the year will limit my thinking and possibly make me miss greater opportunities than I can imagine at this point.

Each of the themes is a critical component to the vision that I have for how I believe I am supposed to contribute to the world in the next five years and they transcend spiritual, personal and professional boundaries.

I believe that the themes will guide who I become – and what I do will then be guided by who I am.  I feel that this is the most authentic way for me to live and I am excited to embark on the journey.

So what are my themes in 2013?

There are 5 of them:

  1. Build Platforms
  2. Define the Hard Edges
  3. Create Space for Reflection
  4. Provide Mentorship
  5. Focus on Lean Methods


I am convinced that the most effective way to have an impact with your message, talents or vision is to build a platform from which you can share your gift with the world.  Over the past year and a half, I have read Seth Godin’s blog almost daily and this is a recurring theme in his writing – now that I know the theory, I am going to spend 2013 putting it into practice and discovering what it means for me specifically.

Hard Edges

This is an idea from David Allen’s book "Getting Things Done" that provides very clear direction on how to create and manage boundaries to control the information that flows in and out of your life daily

Personally, I am expanding this concept to the boundaries throughout my life (personal, professional and other); the main idea is to make sure that I have clearly defined ‘buckets’ in which the commitments in my life fall into so that when I am faced with a new idea or commitment I can make decisions faster and with more clarity without allowing the edges to ‘bleed’ into each other.


Without fail, whenever I take the time to think through an approach to a problem or an opportunity, I significantly reduce the amount of wasted time I spend on it.  However, despite my knowledge of this, the ‘busyness’ I often find myself in prevents me from true reflection that would enhance my results.  So this theme is about continuously simplifying my environments to create space for reflection.


The more I teach, the more I learn.

Lean Methods

Instead of trying to plan the risk out of any of my ventures, use a process of experimentation where I use carefully designed ‘tests’ to determine what is working and what isn’t and then make the changes necessary (Build, Measure, Learn).  I don’t need to have the full picture before I start – just enough to gather feedback that will help me take the next step.  This process of experimentation is probably the biggest departure from how I usually do things and will help me to fight against the lizard brain.