Have you noticed that many recent articles discourage people from setting yearly goals because they often are abandoned? I don’t think year-end goal setting is the issue; it’s the absence of mechanisms that keep people focused on achieving them.This is my eighth year using Chris Brogan’s “My Three Words” approach to personal goal achievement. It’s a simple and effective way to honour your aspirations for the year. Here’s how it works: After setting your goals for the year, select three words to guide your thinking, actions and behaviours to accomplish them. Keep these words visible and refer to them often, especially when deciding how you spend your time.
I place my three words on my monitor stand, so they stay top of mind. Last year, I experimented with writing my words every morning on a Buddha Board canvas that my son gave me. The daily kinesthetic connection with the words significantly increased their utility. I realized this when I skipped this step for a few days and was more easily distracted. I regained my concentration once I re-established this morning ritual.
My primary goal for 2020 was to finish writing my second book, Change on the Run, and prepare it for publishing in 2021. The three words I chose to guide me to achieve this goal were precision, forward and enjoy.
Precision was related to the quality of my writing. My book is about 80/20 solutions to common change challenges, and being economical with words was a must. I needed to make every word count and delete the ones that didn’t add value. Thinking about being precise was a tremendous help. It forced me to push past good sentences to create better ones. I remember reviewing chapters and saying to myself, “you haven’t nailed it yet.”
Forward was about making continual progress. It can be challenging to write while completing work assignments. When they overlapped, I didn’t stop working until both were moving in the right direction. After a setback or delay, I would ask myself, “Okay, how are you going to move forward.” It was tough at times, but I knew I had no option.
Enjoy was a new type of word for me. I intended it to remind me that my path can be as fulfilling and pleasurable as reaching my destination. I have a habit of focusing on a goal and missing out on the enjoyment of achieving it. Although this word helped me occasionally pause to appreciate the writing process, deadlines consumed my thinking.
My primary goal for 2021 is to create awareness of Change on the Run so that everyone who needs quick advice to survive their workplace uncertainty can see if it is right for them. The publishing date is March 2, so goal delivery starts today.
The three words to guide me to success for this year are reach, partner and share.
Reach will push me to maximize my book’s awareness for people who have a role in a change initiative, have little change experience and even less time to learn. “How else can I spread the word” will be a daily consideration.
Partner is a prompt to be on the look-out for potential partners so I can make the greatest positive impacts. This ambition spans beyond Change on the Run to consulting assignments, peer communities and school collaborations. Before the holidays, I had an engaging conversation about how change management will shift in the future, and I am keen to help shape it.
Share is a reminder that I am happiest when helping others. I want to reserve time to mentor and teach so others can progress on their paths. I am determined to make time to share my knowledge and experience through mentoring and teaching.
I hope you try the “My Three Words” exercise. If you do, take your time when picking your words. It’s an excellent way to confirm the goals you want to achieve.
So, how about it? The end-of-year goal-setting articles don’t have to apply to us. What three words will guide you to success in 2021?