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Every good party planner knows that the job is much easier when you stick to a theme. Having a theme allows you to sort through the seemingly endless options for invitations, decorations, food, and music and narrow it down to the most relevant choices. It simplifies and accelerates the decision-making process. If I open up my cookbook to plan a luau party, I won’t have to consider 80 different entrees. I can simply choose between Lomi Lomi Salmon and Kalua Pig.

Having a theme for your financial change efforts will simplify that endeavor, as well. It will help you narrow down your options when faced with a wide array of financial products, savings and investment vehicles, and day-to-day temptations and opportunities.

Some people choose a word that helps focus their attention and action. For example, ABUNDANCE or STABILITY or FUTURE. Imagine that your theme word is “future,” and you need to decide what to do with the extra $200 you earned from putting in overtime at work. One option is making a larger payment to bring down the balance on your personal loan. Another option is to go out for a couple of nice dinners with your family. Reflecting on the word that you have chosen to guide your change efforts, you realize that in your current situation, option one will do a better job of creating the kind of financial future you want.

Other people create a focus by “naming the year”: The Year of Taking More Risk; The Year of Paying Down Debt; The Year of Building a Portfolio. The theme-of-the-year acts as a reminder, a motivator, a compass to guide our decisions, and a yardstick by which to measure our progress. If we keep returning to our theme, we can never lose our way in the thousands of distractions and temptations that creep into our daily lives.

What theme word or theme-of-the-year would best focus your attention and action for the months ahead? Send your ideas!