Happy New Year!

You may be totally into new year’s resolutions.

But if you’re like me, they don’t work very well for execution on a daily basis. Mainly because what I need are guideposts along the way that help me make focused decisions.

So, what I’ve found much more helpful is a practice called “My 3 Words.”

“My 3 Words” was created by storytelling and marketing guru Chris Brogan, and the idea is to “think up three words that will help guide your choices and actions over the coming year.”

I first began this in 2018 and I’m carrying forth the tradition into 2020. Below, I’ll share my 3 words, but first here are some tips directly from Brogan on how to choose yours:

Choosing Three Words

“The words that you select for ‘My 3 Words’ are meant to serve as lighthouses to guide you through foggy moments. To that end, it’s important to pick words that have enough meaning that you’ll snap your perspective into alignment with them and build out your days, weeks, months, and year accordingly,” Brogan shares.

Since starting this in 2006, Brogan suggests that you stick to only three words. When he has tried fewer or more words, he had less successful years.

Here are some additional tips from Brogan’s 2020 “My 3 Words” blog:

  • Don’t make it a phrase. Don’t say “publish the book”. It also wastes words by using “the”.
  • Use words that are actionable if you can. “Expand” is better than “bigger.”
  • The more useful and practical the words can be, the better. Don’t use words that are sexy. Use words that will be your compass.
  • Stick with the 3 words all year. Every time I’ve changed one a month or two later, the year mucks up. I can’t explain it, but I can report it.
  • Use plain words. Years where I’ve tried “fancy” words with layers of meaning, I lost the thread.
  • Personal meaning. The words don’t have to mean anything to anyone but you. Don’t worry about explaining them.

Here are tips from my personal experience:

  • Share your words with others. When you share your words and the meaning behind them, I’ve found it to be easier for people to support me. (Send me an email with your words!)
  • Put your words somewhere visual. We are a visual people. The more you can see these words in front of you every day, the easier it will be for them to be your compass. 

Examples of 3 Words

If you search Twitter using the hashtag #my3words, you’ll find many people sharing their words for 2020.

Here are some of the three words posted on Twitter for 2020:

Movement, Practice, Dedication, Love, Persevere, Kind, Prepared, Do, Prioritize, Integrity, Ambición, Adapt, Pace

BROGAN’S 3 WORDS FOR 2020

Push – This one is so simple. Every day, push. Do something. Move forward. Push. Bring your efforts forward a notch. Even if it’s a little notch, do it. Contact some prospects. Swing the kettlebells. Make media. Push. I’ve got a good feeling about this word.

Structurequence – Yes. I made this word up. Yes, it’s cheating (kinda). Structure and sequence. The point is that structure doesn’t mean much without sequence. They go together. When I build structures for companies or myself, I need to bake the sequence into everything I create. Structure and sequence had a baby and this is it.

Package – I will do a much better job showing the labeling, the edges, the decoration, and the careful consideration of what I’m creating. This reminds me not to be so much an improv guy and instead be a polished guy. It tells me to put the extra effort in and wear the button down instead of the tee shirt. This one has been a long time coming.

You can learn more about his words, here.

MY 3 WORDS FOR 2020

RESTORE

2019 was rough for a lot of people. Many nonprofit leaders are teetering on burn out. Parents are tired. Many are feeling isolated and lonely. My hope is to use “restore” in a question to remind me every day to view my relationships through the lens of empathy and service. I want to ask this question to myself when I’m interacting with people, “How might I help restore this person today?”

PUBLISH

Last year one of my 3 words was “Arena.” It was based on the Teddy Roosevelt quote. It was helpful to get me over my fear hump. But now it’s time to hit publish a whole lot more. Time to get that podcast out there. Ship the videos. Create training programs. No perfection. Just publishing, learning quickly, and moving forward.

BIKE

I went hyper practical on this one. I am part of a biking family and it brings us all a lot of joy to ride. But 2019 saw a lot of loss of and breaking of our bikes. Thanks to generous gifts from family for Christmas, our kids now have new and updated bikes! 2020 will be the year of biking (and more joy/exercise/family time) for us.

How about your 3 words?

The three words exercise is a simple way to set your year up for success. These tips should help guide you as you decide on your own 3 words. When you put them together, send me an email at [email protected] with your words!