Thinking In Themes

The Context of Goals

Hey all,

As 2021 draws to a close and we begin our annual reflections, I realize there’s quite a lot to unpack. For starters, this newsletter has been on and off, with unplanned hiatuses. But this week was different, as I began to appreciate the fine tapestry of 2021. This week, I want to talk about ‘themes’.

Themes, as a different thing from ‘goals’. Thinking thematically is to zoom out enough and “ride the wave” instead of pensively working for specific ‘goals’. As work has taken the majority of my time (and work goals are rapid or dynamic), I find it hard to take time to journal or reflect every day. Information’s abound. The influx of things to deal with seems far more than one possibly can.

Which is where thinking in themes helps. More specifically:

  1. To think in themes is to see whether you have a North Star in mind,
  2. What is the wave you want to create in the world, and
  3. Do you feel as proximate as possible to that wave or ripple.

To think in themes is to actively turn off the goal-driven, specific mindset. I’ve talked about goals before, that goals help specify conditions for failure. So, setting goals is important, but there is more to it than goals. The context in which your goals fit is more important. Where are you, as a functional being, headed?

A theme is not a goal. Themes are like parallel streams of the river, and you can choose to swim in one stream, then the other. The important point is to first actively create those streams and be aware of their existence from time to time. For example, thinking thematically, two themes have been important for me: fitness and work. Other themes right now are on the back-burner.

I’ve been reading the blog MoreToThat, of late, and I realized something simple this week: The goal of life is to live life itself. The experience of life matters equally, if not more, than what you do in life. Thinking in themes has helped zoom out to an appropriate distance, enabling the outside-in view at what animates me.

This helps in throttling one theme up or down, post which, goals come into play.

Until next time,