My Three Words for 2021

My Three Words for 2021

inspiration Jan 01, 2021

In 2011 I came across an article by Chris Brogan entitled Your Three Goals for 2009As for most of us, resolutions weren't working for Brogan. So he hatched this idea to come up with three words that would pull him toward his future goals. 

The idea seemed simple enough to follow, so I figured I'd give it a try — that was a decade ago, and I've used the technique every year since. 

What is 'My 3 Words' about?

The idea is simple: choose 3 words that guide your day-to-day choices and actions on your path toward your future goals. And when, for instance, you find yourself wondering about a new project ask yourself: Does this align with my three words?

How to Choose Three Words

My first 3 words were: Exit, Coach, Systems — that was back in 2011.

At the time, I was navigating a business exit. I needed three words to pull me through the process. I scribbled them down on a 2 x 4 card and pasted them to my monitor — so that I was conscious of them every day.

Those three words kept me focused on coaching a management team into a leadership team, implementing processes and systems using EOS (the Entrepreneurial Operating System), and ultimately guided me through the process of selling my business.

The technique worked well, and those first three words set me on a course to sell my businesses.

The 'My Three Words' approach has served me well. Probably because it's simple and only requires me to remember three words. Although, I spend the week between Christmas and New Year reflecting on how well my words pulled me toward my goals... and the words that will carry me through the year ahead.

Here are Chris's suggestions for selecting your three words (with a few thoughts of my own):

  1. Make sure you choose words that are easy to remember. In 2018 I went with the Japanese word Mochu, and I could never remember the word.

  2. Don’t make it a phrase like “sell my business” or “write a book”. They're bad choices because they're too long and specific. Stick with a single word that pulls you toward a goal. For example, in 2015, I wanted to improve my writing skills to write a book. That year, I settled on the word: writer. Throughout the year, I took loads of writing courses and set aside time to write every day – and my writing steadily improved (at least I think so). Then, in 2017, when I was ready to start writing the book, I chose the word Gonzo – a word with little meaning to most, but for me, I wanted to explore Hunter S. Thompson style in writing the book.
  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. However, Chris has, and apparently, it mucks up the approach.

  5. The words don’t have to mean anything to anyone but you. And don’t worry about explaining them – although I must admit I enjoy telling people about my words.

  6. The more utilitarian the word can be, the better. Remember, 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.
2020 - Momentum. Inspire. Ritual.

And My 3 Words for 2020 Are:

Wisdom — I've never been good at the tactical stuff. Recently one of my coaches, Frank Kern, said this to me: "Be the wisdom, not the help." His advice made me realise that I can better serve my clients by imparting wisdom and connecting them with qualified experts. Coaching, teaching and advising energizes me. Conversely, doing the tactical stuff saps my energy (and is also a recipe for an overdependent business). This year I plan to make the transition to delivering Wisdom.

Ikigai — is a Japanese word that means: 'reason for being'. I've done a lot of work on finding my purpose over the years. And I firmly believe it is 'to help small business owners unlock the value of their businesses'. For me to do this to the best of my ability, I must lead by example. Ikigai pulls me away from the 'hustle' of the western business mentality to create more balanced, purposeful and valuable businesses – for both my clients and me.

Practice —  I spent the best part of 2020 learning how to create and scale a business online. In 2021 I want to apply that learning to intentionally, consciously and audaciously design and grow my company as if I plan to sell or franchise it in the future. The word practice is intended to keep me focused on the three key legs I need to scale my business: lead generation, lead conversion and client fulfilment. 

Use Them Daily

I still stick my three words on my monitor and my Battle Board. I reflect on them daily while I’m running, during meditations, walking to the store, particularly when I feel like I am drifting off course.

What Are Your Three Words for 2021?

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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