Set Your Themes for Next Year
Now, at the Beginning of This Year

I am spending a lot of time setting my themes for next year.   I had 10 days off from work for the holidays.  So in addition to Christmas gift exchanges, holiday parties, resting up, watching more movies and lazing around, I spent time reflecting on my successful 2016 and planning my 2017.  I am still refining now.

Nothing is as satisfying as reflecting back on past successes.  Even reflecting back on past problems is satisfying if you have overcome them.  And nothing is as exciting as planning future successes.

At least it shouldn't be.

Society seems to think that your little life does not matter that much.  They would rather have you excited about the big game, or the election, or the next big show, or even worse, a god, or government that you need to obey, submit to and subjugate your life and happiness to.

But your life is the most important thing to you.  Let no one tell you different.

No one has the right to do that to you.  No one.

You matter.

How I Set My Themes for Next Year

First off, I have not been setting my themes for next year for that long.  That is a major reason my life sucked for all those years.  I did not do any planning or thinking that much about my life.

I just kind of let it happen.  Letting others decide.  Letting them lead.  In the case of my wife, letting her destroy my life and any hope of happiness.

But now I toss all that out the window and actively plan with paper and pen, my life, including my themes for next year.

I like to take plenty of time off from work at the end of the year.  It is a perfect time for thinking, reflecting and planning.  Most workplaces are very slow anyway.  You won't really miss much work or come back to work after the holidays and be behind, like you might if you take time off during a busy period.  Time off then kind of sucks because you know you will be swamped when you return.  You may even fret and worry about work on your vacation. 

I don't. I rarely think about work when I am not at work.  I have so many things to think about.  I prefer to focus on work, at work and focus on other things when I'm not.  But I have been working on my mindset for years.

Getting back to planning your themes for next year during the holidays.

Yes, there may be a lot of time involved with shopping, gift exchanges, visiting family and friends.

That stuff is supposed to be fun.  And it can be.  You can also make an effort to keep that extra stuff to a manageable level.

But if you are not at your 40 hour a week, or more, job that week, you should have plenty of time to get in the reflecting, the writing and the planning of your themes for next year.

Besides, if you had a great last year, you might want to do more of the same this year.  I know I am.  I had a successful 2016 and the best summer ever, so I want to repeat that.

Once you have your life dialed in so it is humming along how you like it and you are extremely happy, you don't have to make that many changes.  It is more like minor tweaking.  Maybe subtracting out a habit, that while not debilitating, is somewhat irritating.  Or adding in some more adventure.  Or as the people around you grow and change, you help them in the way they need help.

Think in terms of Themes for Next Year rather than Goals


From James Altucher

Live By Themes, Not Goals

From article -

Having goals is no good.

Goals, in an extreme, mean you aren’t happy until you get your goal. And then what? How can you reduce suffering right now. The suffering of striving, of fear, of worry, of the pressure that you have no goals.

Have a theme. You can build your days around your themes. I want to learn more. I want to be healthy. I want to be good to people. I want to help people feel good about themselves. I want to be creative. I want to depend on my inward self instead of the outer events that throw from shore to shore.


The difference between a goal and a theme is that a goal is something you do once and you're finished.

Themes are something you do over and over again continuously.  Usually once you start living by a good theme, your life starts getting better immediately.  And it only gets better and better the more you live those themes.

Can you see how setting themes for next year will positively impact your life?

A better model is to have some major themes, that if you spend much of your time and energy on, you will have a good life.  Then pick out a number of actions, targets, or areas to emphasize (similar to how we think of goals) to do or get or work on.  Those goals should work within the themes.

This way you don't waste a lot of your precious time trying to obtain goals that have nothing to do with how you want your life to be.

Example Fitness and Health Themes and Actions (Similar to Goals) to Take Within Those Themes


  • Weight train 3 days per week
  • Train hard and heavy but avoid getting hurt and rundown
  • Avoid eating carbs
  • Reach target weight
  • Take Supplements
  • Walk 15 minutes every day
  • Go on longer walks or hikes as opportunities arise
  • Mix in longer walks when traveling
  • Get proper rest
  • Relax and avoid stress
  • Take dancing lessons
  • Continue thyroid medication
  • Continue TRT
  • Get dental cleaning and exam every 6 months

How Do Goals Fit into the Themes for Next Year Idea

Goals fit under the themes, not above them.

Once you set your main themes for next year (or for the next however many years) you can micro plan goals or targets or actions that work within those themes.

An example for me last year

One of my themes was fun, to have more fun, to be a fun person and do fun things. And I did have fun last year.  I counted 96 events that I considered fun.  I went back to 2015 and only counted 17 fun events.  A massive improvement to the quality of my life. The fun events from the years prior to that were even lower.

One of my most fun actions is to travel.  Fun was the theme and travel was the action within the theme. My written action plan included traveling alone, something I had never done, and travel with my kids, something I did with them very rarely.

At the beginning of the year I did not have any specifics of when or where to travel to...I had no specific goal of where to go.  I just wanted to go.

The traveling locations presented themselves within the theme when the time was right.  My theme is that I am a person who loves to have fun and travel is a way to maximize my fun.  I am open to travel.

The actual locations were determined and planning done for those trips were done just a week to a few weeks prior to going.

I found it fun to do the more focused planning and preparation for these trips right before I left.  I did not have to wait so long for the trip and thinking about the trips for months prior did not disrupt my life.

I did have to spend more on a flight and hotels because of this.  So I may try to do some planning a little sooner if possible in the future.  But planning for travel does not have to take that long.  The first trip with my kids in June I planned in less than a week.

Where I Traveled in 2016

  • Michigan's Upper Peninsula with my 2 kids for a weekend.
  • Wisconsin's Door County with my 2 kids for a weekend.
  • Wyoming alone for 10 days.
  • Las Vegas alone for 5 days.
  • Superior Wisconsin for a work trip
  • Wisconsin Rapids Wisconsin for a work trip
  • Lacrosse Wisconsin for a work trip
  • Rice Lake Wisconsin for a work trip
  • Shawano Wisconsin for 3 summer holiday weekends and 1 more weekend
  • Visits to my mothers house numerous times
  • Eau Claire Wisconsin for a party
  • Poynette Wisconsin for a party
  • Numerous trips to Madison Wisconsin for work and family get gatherings

That's a lot of traveling.  More than I have ever done in my life.  And I had tremendous fun on all these trips.  Even the work trips.  Most of a work trip is based around doing some type of work.  But the going to, returning, meals out in different restaurants, socializing with other people in the evenings make it fun.

First Review Your Themes (or Your Goals) from Last Year

My 2016 Themes Were

  1. Weight Loss and Fitness
  2. Debt Elimination
  3. Fun
  4. Help Kids
  5. Grow this website
  6. Career Success

I wrote these themes in my little Success Journal I keep tucked in the pocket of my Planner Book on January 4, 2016.  I do not leave my life to chance.  I write things down, especially the most important things.

It was a successful year because I made progress on all those themes.

Good Things from 2016


  • I lost about 30 pounds.  My strength has increased radically.  I look and feel much better.  My blood pressure and BMI are much lower.
  • I made progress on some debts.  Eliminated some.  Restructured others.  My next theme did not help my debt elimination.
  • I had the best summer ever.  I traveled more this past year than at any time of my life.  And I had more fun traveling.  I did spend a lot of money and slipped backwards in some of my debt reduction.
  • I helped my kids with their lives.  Dental appointments.  Insurance.  Doctoring.   Two trips.  Helped them to clarify their career choices.  Constantly encouraging them and providing them a peaceful, harmonious relaxing place to be with me.  I always try to make sure they keep in touch with their mother and her family.  I also schedule family get gatherings around their schedules.  I don't demand that they do anything, only encourage.

Christmas gift from my kids in 2016

  • I keep adding content to this website.  It's my favorite engaging hobby that doesn't involve heavy weight training,  drinking beer or drinking coffee.
  • My civil engineering career is going better than ever.  I came in second for a very large promotion.  I gave 7 public speaking presentations.  I keep on top of my work and influence things at work my way.

My 2017 Themes for Next Year

I am setting some rather big themes for myself this year.  I did so well last year that I am optimistic that this coming year will be even better.

I wrote about the categories of my life in - Get Serious About Your Life.

These are the 5 main categories of my life

  1. Father/Family Man
  2. Career Success
  3. Intellectual
  4. Bodybuilder
  5. Fun Lover

I spend all of my time in different aspects of those main categories.  All I have to do to have a successful life is have success in those main categories and pick themes to live by that work within those categories.  I just have to look within those categories and determine what needs work or focus, and concentrate on an area for as long as it takes to become in alignment with what I want it to be.

A Few Thoughts I Have Within My Themes for Next Year Related to Being a Father and Family Man

  • Help my kids get into the college of their choice.
  • Help my kids sort out their career options.
  • Continue to have a nice home for my kids to live.
  • Continue to support them and encourage them.
  • Take my kids on 1 or 2 short, but fun vacations.
  • Ensure my mom is ok.  Call her once or twice a week and see her once a month or so.
  • See my family multiple times a year.
  • Help my family with what they need.

A Few Thoughts within My Themes for Next Year Related to Career Success

Continue to excel at my engineering career.

Give presentations.

Be involved in major decisions.

Keep on top of all the projects.

Continue to be the go-to guy and the logical, calm person in every meeting.

Just enjoy doing what I am already very good at.  Provide value.  Be a leader.  Keep making sound, logical, common-sense engineering decisions.

Themes for Next Year Related to Being Intellectual

  • Read what I want like LewRockwell.com and the best bloggers for men.
  • Listen to what I want.
  • Watch what I want to watch.  I like a small bit of TV like the Packer Games, good sit-com reruns or when I need some downtime.  I prefer to watch You Tube, like most everyone else.
  • Have some intellectual discussions.  I miss my dad on this.  He was great for deep conversations.  It is hard to find people deep enough to have good conversations.
  • Help others with this website.

Themes for Next Year Related to Being a Bodybuilder


  • Weight train 3 days per week
  • Train hard and heavy but avoid getting hurt and rundown
  • Avoid eating carbs
  • Reach target weight
  • Take Supplements
  • Walk 15 minutes every day
  • Go on longer walks or hikes as opportunities arise
  • Mix in longer walks when traveling
  • Get proper rest
  • Relax and avoid stress
  • Take dancing lessons
  • Continue thyroid medication
  • Continue TRT
  • Get dental cleaning and exam every 6 months

Themes for Next Year Related to Being a Fun Lover

The overall theme is to have fun.  Look for ways to have fun.  Be open to have fun.  Spend money and time having fun.  And track the fun I have.  I expect that I will have even more fun than I had last year. 

Some Fun Things to Do

  • Travel with my kids once or twice.
  • Travel alone two or three times.
  • Maybe take a trip with my brother and sister.  We have been talking about it.
  • Be open to trips with friends.  It may or may not work out.
  • Have fun on work trips when those work trips pop up.
  • Dating
  • See old friends
  • Meet new people and be open to making new friends
  • Get together with family
  • Go to a few movies in the theaters
  • Watch the Green Bay Packer games and text my buddies during them
  • Watch movies at home
  • Go out for breakfast, coffee, brunch, lunch, ice cream, dinner and drinks
  • Go out most Friday and Saturday nights.
  • Get out of the house more and linger in public
  • Go to a shooting range
  • Take dancing lessons
  • Go to an RV show
  • Go to the fun local festivals
  • Be open to going to sporting events
  • Be open to going to music concerts
  • Shop for the things I really want

When I look at that list, having fun is not that hard for me to do.  All those things I love to do.  All those things are easy to do.  All those things I can work into my schedule and still get to work and take care of my responsibilities.

Having fun should not be hard.

Setting fun goals like traveling very expensively, or going to all the sports events, or specific music concerts will throw your finances out of control and stress you out if you cannot go.

Stress is not what you want.

I like to think in terms of "being open" to more expensive events.  I have gone to Packer Games.  I love going.  They are expensive, but fun.  So I don't go out of my way to go.  If someone says they have a ticket available and I am free that day, I will probably say yes.  If not, I can just enjoy watching it on TV.  I have been having a lot of fun watching the games by myself while texting my old high school buddies during the game.

I like big music concerts.  But I don't have any specific bands or times I have to go.  I went to one last year, and had a great time.  But I did not plan for it.  A friend invited me the day before and I was open to going and decided to go a few hours before it started.

You will find that most of the time, fun is had out of your house.  You have to get out more. 

Video  from Dr. Robert Glover on Dating Success

He talks about getting out of the house and lingering in public as a way to be more open to fun opportunities.

17:35 minute mark. 

Get out of the house.  Miracles happen out of the house around people.

Expand your route.  Get out of your routine.

Talk to the people you meet.  Say something.

Walk through the open door.  Be bold.

One More Item for my Themes for Next Year -
Improve My Looks

I want to improve my looks.  I am quite happy with my looks, but want to make a few more improvements.

They are

  • Do some expensive dental work to fix an old bridge and fill in a gap where I have a missing tooth near the front.
  • Continue to lose weight and reach my target weight (or better).
  • Keep up my tan.
  • Get a few really nice articles of clothes (once I reach my target weight).
  • Only wear clothes that make me look good.
  • Continue to get my hair cut every 3 weeks.
  • Continue to look good with facial hair.
  • Buy a really nice watch, or 2.
  • Buy and wear some accessories like rings, bracelets and necklaces.
  • Consider (notice the word...consider) getting a tatoo.  We'll see.

Themes for Next Year Wrap Up

Spend your precious time focusing on your precious life and your themes for next year.

Not others.

Don't worry about what other peoples themes for next year are or how the new president will help you or hurt you.  Focus on you and your life.

Take care of your responsibilities, but look for ways to minimize these responsibilities so you have more time and energy for your needs and especially desires.

Getting your needs met and fulfilling your desires will make you happy.

› Themes for Next Year

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