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Blog // Productivity
December 20, 2021

Tensegrity – Yearly Theme For 2022

It’s time to choose a yearly theme for 2022. Yearly themes are a powerful and popular alternative to New Year’s resolutions. My 2022 yearly theme will be tensegrity.

New Year, New Me. It might feel like a cliché, but most of us still feel like the New Year is a chance to hit the reset button.

We know New Year’s resolutions don’t work. We usually give up on them before January is over. Sometimes they’re too ambitious. But mostly they fail us because they create feelings of shame as soon as we fall behind with our goals.

Say you’ve set a resolution like “I want to read 50 books this year.” If you read 40 books, did you fail? Was your resolution about hitting a number, or was it really about feeling more informed, or getting back to the joy of reading?

So many resolutions have hard targets that set us up to feel like failures. Lose this much weight, go to the gym so many times, take this many trips. No wonder they soon overwhelm us.

What Are Yearly Themes?

A yearly theme allows us to set a course for our lives without the restrictions of New Year’s resolutions. Maybe your book reading goal was tied to learning. Well, if your theme is learning, you just keep navigating towards that.

Even if you don’t read any books for a few weeks, you can still choose learning. And, if you decide partway through the year that reading journal articles and magazine essays works better for you, then you can switch and still be on theme. Or you could pivot away from so much reading and try courses instead. That’s still learning.

I’ve written before about yearly themes and how to choose one. If you’ve never done this before, take a look at the article. It goes into detail about how to choose a good yearly theme for yourself.

Yearly theme for 2022 – Tensegrity

During the pandemic, I’ve regularly attended online Pilates classes with the Erika Bloom studio in New York. These classes have taught me a lot about the body and how to take care of it. During the classes, one word consistently popped up.


The concept of tensile integrity, or tensegrity, is popular in architecture. It happens when compression and tension happen at the same time and hold objects in place, giving a structure its form. It was popularised by Buckminster Fuller and can be used to create some magical-looking structures.

Tensegrity also describes tension between muscles, fascia, ligaments, and tendons. This tension pulls on our bones and joints to create a body structure that is stable, strong, and able to move freely. These oppositional forces and how well we harness them define our shape.

In 2022, freedom, stability and strength are things I want. There’ll be plenty of tension in life, and I need to turn that into a positive force, to see the tension as a path to integrity and living my values.

Everything suggests 2022 will be another hard year, for me personally, and for all of us collectively.

Looking Back On Previous Themes

The theme for 2021 was Imagination. I didn’t expect life to return to “normal”, and I hoped Imagination would help me create and not get stuck. It mostly worked. The middle of the year was hard. I fell away from the theme and my core habits for a while. But mostly, the theme guided me to a satisfying life of the mind, guiding my choices in everything from the films I watched, the art I studied, and even the way I thought about my upcoming move.

If you want to look at previous themes, you can read about them here.

2021 – Imagination
2020 – Momentum
2019 – Conviction
2018 – Simple

Moving Beyond Balance

Our admiration for work–life balance is just one example of the way we prize balance. But, life is lived in tension. Life comes at us in extreme ways sometimes. It knocks us off balance, and the real art of living is how we cope and recover.

Besides, the middle ground is seldom distinctive, interesting, or a fertile place for creative activity.

A lot of the Pilates practice that inspired this theme of tensegrity is about balance in movement. It’s not just stand-on-one-foot balance. It’s stand-on-one-foot-while-you-move-your-arms-and-swing-your-other-leg balance. Which, of course, is preparation for the “you’ve slipped and you’re falling, can you regain balance” moments you may encounter.

The tensions we live with never fully resolve. This reminds me of something Pádraig Ó Tuama recently wrote:

“There was a Polish rabbi in the 19th century, Rabbi Simcha Bunim, who urged his followers to write ‘The world was created for me’ on one piece of paper and keep it in their pocket. On another piece of paper, they should write ‘I am but dust and ashes’ and keep it in the other. This, he proposed, is a necessary tension.”
– Pádraig Ó Tuama

So, here’s to 2022, to tension and integrity, to getting knocked off my feet and getting up again. To tensegrity.

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