My Theme for This Year


January 10, 2024

How are you faring in this second week of January? Recovered from the holiday? Avoided flu-like symptoms? I hope you are happy, well-rested, and healthy as we start 2024.

I’m not a huge fan of resolutions for a new year, but I do love a good theme. A theme can influence my attitude as I approach a topic, an action, or a project. It can help keep me focused on a quality I want to develop while keeping my curiosity engaged.

This year, my theme is fruitfulness. This is because the word productivity isn’t sitting right with me at the moment. Productivity can be useful but it also can be tricky. When output is the primary goal, it can unintentionally combine drudgery and overwhelm at an unhelpful speed.

But fruitfulness feels vibrant and creative. It feels playful, inclusive of the environment in which it operates, and much more delicious. It also seems to look at the longer view, like it’s interested in the time it takes to cultivate a good idea and make it a reality.*

The world of work is not easy to manage. Part of my job is to help organizations find ways to include a bit more understanding and enthusiasm to what they do. Sometimes that can be as simple as changing a word that describes the work itself. In the spirit of vocabular playfulness, consider these questions:

  • Would a fruitful day feel different than a productive day?
  • What would happen in a fruitful meeting?
  • How would you describe a conversation that was fruitful in contrast to one that was only efficient?
  • In what ways (if any) would behaviors or attitudes change if you shifted from focusing on productivity to emphasizing fruitfulness at work? 

When I think of fruitfulness, I become interested in the tasks at hand in a clearer, more relaxed way. I can envision the path ahead while also getting things done that are important to the moment. I know it may be simply a linguistic trick to make my to-do list more manageable, but it adds a dash of wonder to the year ahead.

Whatever your themes or goals for 2024, I hope your efforts are fruitful indeed.

With cheer,

Oh! And book update: Working With Humans is now out in audiobook form. If you’ve been wanting to read my book, now you can have me read it to you. Fun! It’s available on all of the platforms.

*In her book Toward Holy Ground, Margaret Guenther wrote about a key difference between work and play: work is productive but play is fruitful. Isn’t that fantastic?


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