This is my fifth year of using Chris Brogan's "My Three Words" exercise to fine-tune my annual goals and define what I need to do to accomplish them.
Here is how it works: After setting your goals for the year, select three words to guide your actions and behaviours to achieve them. Keep these words visible and refer to them often, especially when making decisions on how you spend your time.
It's easy to get distracted or invest time in low priority activities; immediacy often trumps importance. "My Three Words" keeps you on track by making your goals and planned actions top-of-mind. Stating them as questions provides you with quick check-ins to ensure you are following your plan -- is my schedule flexible so I have room for unanticipated requirements or opportunities? A year-end review sharpens your ability to plan for success in the following year.
Picking effective words is harder than it seems. From experience, vague goals lead to low-power words. You need to be clear on what you want and what you need to do to achieve it. Like most things in life, the amount of effort you put in determines the benefits you receive. The first three words I think of are rarely the ones I select.
My 2017 words were Aspire, Prioritize and Permission.
Aspire described my desire to aim higher, to move beyond what I had accomplished before. It acknowledged that I am best when out of my comfort zone. This word was an excellent guide. Last year, I worked in new industries, presented to new groups and adopted a new approach to writing and formatting my next book.
Prioritize is a theme that spans across the last five years. I wanted to prioritize my time and activities and avoid distractions and detours.
I struggled daily with following this guide. Every potential opportunity was explored to the fullest without assessing whether it warranted the time investment. I failed to apply selection criteria including whether the initiatives were set up for success, if my skills and experience would make a difference, and if my time could be better spent. The cost of my conduct was lost time on my priorities. In August, I wrote "no" over my list of 3 words taped to my monitor. It was a more powerful word.
Permission was about speaking the truth as I see it to provide the best value to my clients and readers. This word guided me through difficult client conversations and edits of presentation notes and articles. Speaking honestly led to better dialogues and learning for everyone, including me.
My assessment of 2017's words has been a valuable input into choosing the ones that will guide me in 2018. It has toughened up my selection process and replaced what initially seemed like good words with better ones.
My three words for 2018 are: Courage, Discerning and Moment.
Courage is what I will need to make big moves in 2018. It will affect the content of my next book and how I get it seen in a busy world. 2018 is the year of "going for it," and I will.
Discerning refers to the decisions I will make. My choices will determine my ability to achieve my goals, especially preserving the time and maintaining the focus I will need. Consistently, I will ask "which option will best contribute to achieving my goals?"
Moment is about being fully present and making my time matter. Being present and productive is the foundation of achievement, not dwelling in the past or future. It's the only way to be my best.
I have printed out my 2018 words and taped them to my monitor. Each day will begin by reviewing them. I plan to use them often on my path to success.
What three words would help you achieve your goals?
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