Three Words for 2021

January 1, 2021 | 
3 minute read

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 2021 “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 2021.

Here are some of the three words posted on Twitter for 2021:

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


Showrunner – Not only do I mean this literally. I’m running The Backpack Show and at least three other shows in 2021, I’m using the concept of a showrunner to explain how businesses need to think about their brand strategically in all their communications, marketing, and interactions. It’s a big word for me in 2021, so I’m not worried that I’ll falter on it.

Monk – 2020 gave us the gift of a lot less noise. We thus could see where our lives were still a bit too messy. I plan to operate far more intentionally and simply in several areas of my life. For instance, I’ll get rid of my car entirely (Lyft’s fine for how rarely I need an actual ride). I’ll pare my wardrobe down to 6 of everything and just do a load of laundry on day 6. I’ll eat simply. I’ll meditate and journal (I started 12.9.20 and going strong so far.)

Options – Somewhere near the end of 2020, I reflected that “leadership is option management.” If your team has too many options, they lose focus and flounder. If they feel stuck (lack of options), they feel pressure and anxiety. I survived 2020 because of always seeking the option. Looking for a next move. Those next moves kept me housed and fed in 2020. I’ll do even better with my options in 2021.

You can learn more about his words, here.





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 tucker @ thriveimpact .org with your words!

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