Finding 2015’s Theme

January 16th, 2015 by Kelly Kienzle

MY THEMEEvery January for the last 3 years, I have set aside one weekday to hold an all-day retreat for Open Circle Coaching.  It’s a smallish affair.

And one that I likely value more than any other event of the year.  I do it because I want to lead my professional life with purpose and intention.  I believe that with a fairly small amount of reflection and consideration, I can create a theme that can guide me over the course of 365 days.

The theme is one sentence that will help me make choices, turn down offers, pursue opportunities, bolster me, and remind me about what I want to do and be.

At my retreat, I plan a day that allows time for analysis, reflection, calmness, writing, google-searching for images, and one of my favorite meals for lunch.  (This year’s darling: left-over lasagna, which is entirely different than just-out-of-the-oven lasagna.)

Here are my themes from the last 3 years:  (Those of you who have grown your own business might recognize some similarities here.)

2012: Get clients.
2013: Keep clients.
2014: All is well.

As I prepared for this year’s retreat, I thought that this one-day, one-person retreat idea does not have to be just for solo business owners.  Others might enjoy doing this, even if they worked with 12,000 colleagues.

If you would like to set aside a day to take stock of where you are, what you want to do and why it is important to you, below is a how-to guide.

Reserve a day

  • Set aside a whole, 8-hour workday without meetings, calls or commitments of any kind
  • Commit to turning off your phone and closing out your email for the entire 8 hours (or take only one small break at lunchtime, which I shamelessly did).

Sketch out a rough agenda

  • Analyze – What data do you want to analyze from last year?  What information do you need to understand?
  • Reflect – What trends do you want to search for in the work that you enjoyed? And for the work that you did not enjoy?  What skills do you really, really want to build  What fear or insecurity are you ready to leave behind?
  • Create calmness – Meditate/Walk/Something that calms you and takes you away for a little while (and is legal!)
  • Write – Plan to write in a journal or on your laptop, make a list, jot words on a whiteboard – – anything that causes you to deliberately articulate your thoughts.
  • Create – How will you remind yourself of what you learn, realize and plan for today?  Can you create a word cloud, a cluster of images, a few quotes, a photo that captures what you did today?

Follow your agenda, but not too closely

That’s the advantage of it being just you.  Skip a section if it’s not working for you.  Linger longer if you’re finding value in another activity on the agenda.  Create a new agenda item on the fly, if you’d like.  This day is for only you.

Close out your day

  • Write out your commitments and post them somewhere.
  • Make some kind of tangible take-away to remind you of what you did and why it was important to you.
  • Treat yourself.  Every retreat has at least one plate of cookies.  What will yours be?

When my day was over, I had addressed, in some way, most of the questions above; made a few specific commitments; and created a handful of pages to guide me.  Here is the image that captured my theme:

And this is my theme for 2015:

I have all I need.

So as to clarify that I have not adopted a LeBron James-sized ego, I will elaborate on my theme:

I have all I need…

to do what I want
to question when I need more
to admit when I have made a mistake
to acknowledge that I did my best
to be grateful.

When you can, schedule a day to consider what will be your theme for 2015.  And notice how it helps you.


“How we spend our days is how we spend our lives.”

– Annie Dillard

One Response to “Finding 2015’s Theme”

  1. January 21, 2015 at 4:21 am, David Hanas said:

    Kelly, I loved this article. It really connected with me and helped place things in perspective for 2015. I think I have found my theme, but still intend to spend a day “on retreat” to focus. Keep up the great writing!


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