Field of daisies by Phil RoederAs you may know, every year since around 2002, I declare a theme for the new year. I use this theme to guide my decisions throughout the year. Different from a resolution, the theme is not a single, measurable goal. There is no black and white indication that I failed or succeeded at the theme. Instead, it is a guiding light – a sort of North Star – that I call upon at a given moment to help me decide. Last year was The Year of the Table. You can read my reflections on how I feel that theme served me here. Overall, I enjoyed the theme and it influenced my life in a number of lasting and very positive ways. You'll also read in that reflection that it didn't resolve all difficulties for me (not by a long shot – 2011 was an intense year) – that is not the goal of a theme. The goal of the theme is to serve as a reference point to support living the life I intend. With that in mind, I am really happy that I chose The Year of the Table as a guide for 2011.

Here are a few more themes from previous years:

The Year of the Body
The Year of the Mind
The Year of Letting Go (these themes are from before I began blogging and sharing my themes online)
The Year of Sleep (one of my less well-served themes, though it did help me focus on sleep far better the next year)

Every year, it gets more difficult to name the year's theme

You can see that here in this heady exploration of theme-making for 2010. Maybe it's because the easy themes have already been used. Maybe it's because the more I realize how powerful my theme can be for me (and I really have found it to be an incredible guide for my decisions), the more I want to choose a theme that serves my highest goals for my life overall.

There are many ways to set a theme

In the years since I began using themes to guide my year, I have learned about others who use words to guide their years. Chris Brogan chooses Three Words. His process seems cool and useful and I particularly love the words and descriptions he chose this year. Without really calling it that, my friend and extraordinary organizing consultant One Organized Girl (aka Brenna Peyton) has chosen a box of crayons to guide her year.

So, for me, 2012 is The Year of Beauty.

This theme could be misconstrued. In fact, my fashionista 7-year-old daughter's bright-eyed response to my new theme reminded me that “beauty” is often in reference to physical qualities (in her case, she hopes it means we will be filling our home with more make up, curling irons and – her all-time favorite – more shampoo and conditioner sets. And, just for the record, she does not wear make up – much to her frustration – but she loves to draw faces on paper then use real make up to design their eyes, lips and cheeks.)

What I mean by beauty is this: In 2012, I will ask myself when faced with a decision, “How can I choose something that brings more beauty into my life through this experience?”

I arrived at this theme in a workshop through One House of Peace on Consciously Setting Intention for 2012. I was close to my theme, thinking along the lines of well-being and presence. As the day neared an end, I noticed that all of my intentions could be distilled to a desire for peace and beauty in my surroundings and in my inner world.

I arrived at this new “paradigm for 2012” in that workshop: I am surrounded by beauty, inside and out.

And that is my North Star for 2012. That is my guiding light, my lens for making decisions, my theme.

I am surrounded by beauty, inside and out.

What about you? What is guiding your Big Vision – or Deepest Desire – for 2012? I'd sure love to hear.