Instead of a New Year’s resolution, I practice a ritual called “My 3 Words.” The idea is that you think up three words that will help guide your choices and actions over the coming year. This has become quite an event, with thousands and thousands of people working their way through the ritual and planning their year based on their own three words.
What is My 3 Words About?
The My Three Words idea is simple. Choose 3 words (not 1, not 4) that will help guide your choices and actions day to day. Think of them as lighthouses. “Should I say yes to this project?” “Well, does this align with my three words?”
How to Choose Three Words
I started this process back in 2006. Back then, my 3 words were “Ask. Do. Share.” I picked these very simple words and they served me very well. One of my best years ever. When I asked questions, I learned. When I took action based on what I learned from asking, I made more ground and took over more of the universe. When I shared what I learned with everyone, I made connections and some friends.
Choose any three words you feel will guide you forward. I can tell you a few things about this:
- Don’t make it a phrase. “Publish the book” is a terrible choice. “The” is wasted.
- Try to make the words actionable. “Expand” is better than “bigger.”
- The more utilitarian the word can be, the better. These words have to 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.
- Years where I’ve tried “fancy” words with layers of meaning, I lost the thread. Use plain words, maybe.
- BUT the words don’t have to mean anything to anyone but you. Don’t worry about explaining them.
Review Them Daily
The more you review your 3 words, the better. I have mine built into my daily planning guides and action stacks. I try using them for a mantra when I can. Sometimes on walks, I just repeat them over and over. I like to reflect on them and meditate a little with those words in mind.
Now, want to see some examples?
Previous 3 Words from Me
Here are my choices for 3 words over the past several years:
2006 – Ask. Do. Share
2007 – Seek. Frame. Build. Bridge (yes, that was 4. It also was a less successful year.)
2008 – Believe. Loops.Farm
2009 – Equip. Armies. Needles
2010 – Ecosystems. Owners. Kings
2011 – Reinvest. Package. Flow
2012 – Temple. Untangle. Practice
2013 – Walt. Ender. Monchu
2014 – Lifestyle. Monchu. Black.
2015 – Plan. Leverage. Fabric.
2016 – Home. Shine. Win.
2017 – Move.Voice.Game
2018 – Ritual. Execute. Value
My 3 Words for 2019
These took a while for me to build. More so, I really need these words to deliver for me. Oh, and I have to tell you something. I kind of cheated. The first two words have extra words attached, but it’s okay. I think.
Station – In military terms, “on station” means that you have air support over an area of operation. Pilots report that they are on station so that operators and personnel on the ground know that someone has an eye on them. It means “I’m ready. I’m present. I’m here.”
Chefs use the term “mise en place” to mean that they’ve set up their cooking area and everything is in its place. This is similar to my choice of station. I must prepare and take actions to be ready, to be on station.
Stacks – People who have been part of Owner Insider have heard of “Action Stacks.” They are repeatable mini project plans. It’s a way to prepare for something that you might normally just wing. When I record a webinar (something I’ve done 1-2x a month for several years now), I run through an action stack to prepare and ensure that I’ve done all that needs doing.
Movement – I need to move. Both my body and my pursuits/life. 2018 was a bit of a “stuck” year for me. So I need to move. This one’s easy to understand.
And those are my 3 words for 2019.
Your Turn. What are YOUR 3 Words for 2019?
This process is a million times more fun if you share your 3 words as well. If you have a blog, I recommend writing a post and sharing it. If not, it’s okay. Just tweet or post on Facebook or whatever makes you cheery. Use the hashtag #mythreewords so that others (like me) can find what you’ve got to share. I love hearing people’s three words every year. It’s truly one of the best parts of every year for me.
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