My Three Words for 2020


Happy 2020 Everyone! In 2011 I started choosing 3 words to guide my actions and choices over the year ahead. I came across the idea while looking for alternatives to New Year’s resolutions in a blog post by Chris Brogan entitled Your Three Goals for 2009The idea seemed compelling enough and I had never stuck to my New Years resolution, so I figured I’d give it a try. That was nine years ago and I’ve used the technique ever since. This year will be year ten and it seems fitting, the start of a new decade.

What is My 3 Words About?

The idea is simple. Choose 3 words to guide your day-to-day choices and actions. When you find yourself wondering about a new project, for instance, ask yourself: Does this align with my three words?

How to Choose Three Words

I started this process back in 2011. Back then, my 3 words were Exit. Coach. Systems.” I picked these very simple words because I was focusing on exiting my business. They helped me coach a management team into a leadership team and guided me through the process of selling my business. Overall it was a good year and my first three words kept me on track to getting the things done I wanted to achieve in that year.

Over the years the process has served me well, probably because I have taken most of Chris’ advice on selecting my words. Here are his suggestions for selecting your words with some of my experience:

  1. Make sure you choose words that are easy to remember. In 2018 I went with a Japanese word Mochu and I could never remember the word.
  2. Don’t make it a phrase. “Run a marathon” or “Write a book” are bad choices. In the past, I wanted to improve my writing and write a book. In 2015 I went with the word: writer. That year I took loads of writing courses and set aside time to write every day. In 2017 I started writing a book and chose the word Gonzo. I wanted the book to have a Hunter S. Thompson feel. The word meant nothing to anyone else but me.
  3. Chris suggests trying to make the words actionable. For example, expand is better than bigger. He probably has a good point, but I haven’t struggled with this myself.
  4. Stick with the same 3 words for the entire year. Again I have no experience changing my words mid-year, but Chris reports that when he has, the mucks up!
  5. The words don’t have to mean anything to anyone but you. Don’t worry about having to explain them — although I must admit I enjoy telling people about my words.
  6. The more utilitarian the word can be, the better. These words are your guiding light for the year.

Past Iterations of My 3 Words

2011 – Exit. Coach. Systems.
2012 – Move. Reinvest. Fresh.
2013 – Reboot. Untangle. Build.
2014 – Inbound. Nomad. Focus.
2015 – Temple. Invest. Writer
2016 – Create. Companion. Time.
2017 – Mammoth. Gonzo. LIP.
2018 – Gladiator. NoWiFi. Monchu (Monchu never really stuck, a lesson in choosing a complicated word).
2019 – Freedom. Scary. Value.

And My 3 Words for 2020 Are:

Momentum — This one is simple. Every day make sure I am in momentum toward my goals. I have a Battle Board on the wall behind my desk with my projects for the year. Every day I must do something to move me toward those goals. Record a video. Interview a business owner. Create content. Keep the momentum, even if it is only a little bit every day. Just keep the momentum.

Inspire — I believe that my purpose is to inspire others to discover the freedom they deserve and help them to live the best quality of life that they can. This word is really important to me this year. I want to make sure that everything I do, every interaction I have and everything I create, serves to inspire others to be their best.

Ritual — I am most productive when my day has structure; an operational tempo. I need to protect the habits and rituals that keep me energetic and joyous. The things that help me maintain momentum. This covers things like keeping fit and working out at least four times a week. Eating a healthy, plant-based diet most of the time. Meditating. Carving out time to learn and explore so that I can create and share with others. And set aside the time to be in the moment with loved ones — to create moments of joy rather than ticking off hours.

Use Them Daily

I stick my three words on my monitor and on my Battle Board. I reflect on them daily. While I’m running. During meditations. Walking to the office. And particularly when I feel like I am drifting off course.

What Are Your Three Words for 2020?

I’ve been selecting three words for a decade. Honestly, it works way better than trying to stick with a New Year’s resolution. Give it a try! Come up with three words to guide you in this first year of the new decade. Once you have them, share them with others using the hashtag: #my3words.

Thanks, Chris Brogan for this fantastic tool!

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