themesJames Altucher often talks about living by themes. I like this idea, though I might choose to replace “themes” with “heuristics” – since what he’s really talking about are rules of thumb to help figure out whether choices or actions are congruent with your values.

A couple of tweets with Helena Jeret-Mäe reminded me of this concept, and how I might choose to apply it under different circumstances. I might have some themes for a production team for example:

  • respect – for each other, and for the product
  • lean – eliminate waste and improve continuously
  • communication – do it often, do it well

Or for me personally:

  • health – eating and living well are important
  • learning – I need to do it continuously
  • balance – between work, family and my own well-being
  • energy – follow it

Having themes or heuristics, for myself or the projects and teams I work on, helps me and hopefully them to maintain a steady course by providing a frame of reference. Having respect as a theme for a team for example embraces lots of other goals and objectives, like honesty, collaboration, craftsmanship and so on.

It’s an umbrella term that, should the going get rough (as it often does), can be used to steer the team in the right direction by asking “are we respecting <each other / the product / the project / the client / etc> right now?”

Equally when making life or career decisions, I can refer to my life themes. Am I feeling energy for this job, learning exercise or work? Will this promotion affect my life balance?

Recently my wife and I decided to add another theme – travel, since we wanted to be open to opportunities that would enable us and our homeschooled children (for whom we see travel as an educational exercise) to see more of the world. Using this theme to guide our decision making has resulted in work related trips to the U.S, the Caribbean, India and Spain so far this year.

Maybe you have themes (or heuristics) that you use to help guide your decision making, and some experiences that have resulted from applying them. If you do, I’d love to hear about them below.

Thanks for reading. Feel free to reach out via a comment or on the socials if anything resonates.


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