Themes and Mini-Goals

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Photo by Indy Charlie

I’ve never been able to set myself large goals and make them work. My life just doesn’t work that way.

As I explained in Why I Hate “The Big Picture”, one way of looking at life purpose is to remember the end. The goal is a fulfilling life, so I pick things that will make it fulfilling.

There is another way to approach a meaningful existence is by the use of themes and mini-goals.

What are Themes?

Themes are when you decide on a general topic for a period of time. From that topic, you pick activities and projects to support them.

For example, my theme for the second half of 2008 was “sprouting”. I looked for things to do to keep me growing.

Some of my projects for that period were stepping outside my comfort zones and learning to sew different items, finding ways to make favorite foods at home, and expanding my writing network.

Themes, contrary to first glance, are not easy to come up with. Here are some steps I use to pick my themes:

  1. Pick a period of time. This should be short enough to have a viewable endpoint, but long enough to develop activities and projects for it. I recommend a season, or three to six months.
  2. Brainstorm where you are. By writing down words describing where you are, you will find your grounding point. This serves as the backdrop for the word that will move you forward.
  3. Brainstorm where you want to be. Write down descriptive phrases. It can apply to feelings, situations, or core personality.
  4. Boil it down. This is the hard part. Take the phrases and find the common threads, then boil down the words into at most a three-word phrase.

What Are Mini-goals?

Mini-goals can tie into themes, or they can stand on their own. A mini-goal is larger than a single-purpose project, but less than a life purpose. It has a beginning, middle and end, and stands on its own. (It is different from a sub-project in this respect because it doesn’t require you to take another step to reach something greater.)

Some mini-goals I have used for this year are to finish all UFOs (unfinished craft objects) in my stash, learn one new technology, and apply outstanding “somedays” to the blog.

How I Use Both Themes and Mini-goals

I use themes to steer the general direction of my life. Until December, the theme of my life is currently “sanity”. Evaluating the things I am doing weekly against this theme keeps me in line.

My mini-goals I am using to move me forward in directions I feel a need for a little push. That’s not to say that they are the only things I am working on, but merely those things I want to make sure I focus on.


If you had to pick a theme for your life for the next month, what would it be? Share below!


Photo by Indy Charlie

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