For some reason (2016) it was difficult to sit down and focus on what three words I want to use as my guides in 2017. For those of you who didn’t catch my post last year, this is my fourth year of choosing three words instead of resolutions. Stealing the concept from Chris Brogan, I follow his advice (most of the time) and carefully select three words for the year.
The first year I brainstormed them, then wrote them on the front inside page of my notebook and referred back to them never until the end of the year. In 2015, I paid more attention, remembering them occasionally throughout the year and then was spurred into action for a short time after.
In 2016, I took them seriously, but one of them was forgotten (because there were technically four), one was hard to quantify or determine if I was “successful”, and the last one kicked me in the ass. You can decide which was which.
My Past Three Words.
2014: Lost in a notebook somewhere
How to Choose Your Words
This year it was hard to choose. Sitting down and putting pen to paper, my mind flipped from shiny idea to dull metaphors, to pretty pictures to shiny objects. I spent hours researching things I don’t need and reading advice and news I won’t remember. Then I researched dinner options for NYE with friends. In case you’re wondering, that’s a stupid thing to do late on December 30th.
Then I looked at what worked and didn’t work in 2016. While one of the most challenging years I can remember, I don’t want to say the year was a total loss. I wrote about my overall thoughts for the year and my three words. After listening to some Bowie, Prince, and George Michael, I was ready to get started.
Things I Learned in 2016
In reviewing my three words, where I started the year and where I ended up, there were a few things I learned a few things about selecting my three words:
- Don’t try to sneak in a fourth word like I did in 2016. It won’t work. Instead, it will become irrelevant and distracting. Stick with three.
- Make sure the words don’t overlap. That gets confusing and limiting. There are millions of words, make them unique and give yourself space.
- Keep them positive and kind to yourself. Adding “challenge” into last year was a theme for the year, but become something bigger than I anticipated and not something I wanted. Save yourself and don’t invite larger obstacles than life already throws your way.
This year I added one more thing to my process. I wrote down things I want for this year if everything was perfect. As I began narrowing down my three words, I used them directionally. If I look at these daily, will they help guide me in the right direction.
Which takes me to my three words for 2017 (finally!).
My Word Selection Process
- Brainstorm a list of words you like and want for next year.
- Select keywords from list to mind map
- Narrow down selected words
- Align with goals/direction/purpose (new)
- Finalize list
- Define what they mean to you.
- Write them down so they’re accessible
- Write them down daily (new)
My Three Words:
It’s never easy, deciding on three words.
These words were narrowed down, mapped out, and for the first time I looked up their dictionary definitions to make sure I wasn’t missing anything. In the end, I stuck with my gut on two of them.
Bold. Be bold with my words, laughter, and life. Act with confidence and do things I wouldn’t normally do. Dare to dream bigger, dare to work harder, and write the hard words.
Simon Sinek spoke at a marketing conference, &Then in November where he said, “Intensity cannot replace consistency.” It’s true. His antidotes included running a marathon with only one intensive workout, and brushing your teeth only before going to the dentist. Instead, its little steps along the way that make the difference. This also goes into the power of habit, routines, and an article my sister recently sent me about how doing things at 100% is easier than doing them at 90%. I’m not Sherlock Holmes, but when something comes up enough times in my life, I try to listen to it (sorry patience, I said “try”!).
The third word has me concerned but despite my judgment, I’m going with it. To be honest, I vacillated between two very different words, “Connections” and “Vulnerability”. As I walked Westley this morning, I listened to Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, about the power of vulnerability and how it can be transformative. Dr. Brown makes a comment about not wanting friends who talk about their feelings or walk around feeling vulnerable, and I completely agree. It’s that agreement that swayed me to accept it as an option.
In order to get to the heart of the story, to make the important connections and better understand and reach people, I think there is something to her research and perspective. Against my better judgment (especially seeing how “Challenge” ended up for me), I am going with vulnerability. With any luck, it will help me balance out Bold and Consistent, making me a more rounded (less obnoxious) person.
I also think this is a sign I need to listen to less Ted Talks. I would have been fine with “connections” or “journey”, “joy”, or even “sleep.”
Here’s hoping 2017 is amazing, in spite of the things it has stacked up against it.
Let’s get it started!