The New Year is here. Although the amount of emails may have subsided over the last 2 weeks, the workload is not diminished. We’re back in the trenches. So how do you keep your head up as a leader? How do you maintain your focus and keep the main thing the main thing? One tactic to consider is to have a personal theme for the year.

First, here is a simple definition and a few examples:

A personal theme can be a word or a phase – it’s intent is to capture and reinforce an important message or idea.

Here are a few examples from college football – Mark Richt, coach and the Georgia Bulldogs recently employed the theme: “Finish” to challenge his team to finish the drill in practice, finish the block or the route and finish the game. Chip Kelly the Coach of the Oregon Ducks used the theme: “Win the Day.” This was intended to help keep his team focused on today’s game, not next week’s game.

Last year, my theme was, “Today Matters.” I was trying to strengthen my personal daily disciplines. In 2013, my theme is “Fit.” I certainly want to be “fit” in all areas of my life – but as I enter the new year, I want to be fit to lead. I believe this starts with leading myself well. So, I’m going to allocate incremental time and energy to work on my spiritual growth and physical fitness in 2013.

So, why should you consider establishing a theme for the year?

1. Focus – One of the most powerful ideas I’ve ever encountered in my life is focus. I believe it to be true for all human beings and even more so for leaders – where we focus, we see results.

2. Complexity – I’m guessing your world is more complex today than it was a year ago. Having a theme helps me see through the clutter of the day to what I believe to be important.

3. Priority – A theme establishes a priority. By definition, a priority demands attention. A carefully chosen theme, referenced often can serve as a magnet for your attention.

Once you have a theme you want to guide your actions for a given season, you’ll need to find creative ways to keep it top of mind. Last year, I created a mind map and Today Matters was the central image. I carried a copy of that mind map on a laminated card in my pocket all year and it was also the desktop image on my computer. A few years ago, when I was still using a paper calendar, I created a rubber stamp and stamped every page with my theme for the year. Do whatever works for you.

As a leader, many people want and need your time. However, if we lose sight of what’s most important, we may also lose our effectiveness as well. Decide what’s important and do everything you can to live like you believe it. Maybe a personal theme will help.[GLS_Shield]

What’s your theme for 2013?

Author: Mark Miller

Mark is a business leader, author, communicator, photographer, husband, and father. He spends his time helping leaders grow.