Here is how Chris’ technique works: After setting your goals for the year, select three words that will keep these aspirations top of mind and align your actions with achieving them. At the end of the year, assess their effectiveness before starting the process again, incorporating new learnings.
2022 marked a fresh start after dedicating three years to creating my book, Change on the Run. To make good decisions about new opportunities, I chose words that would help me evaluate options. My three words to guide me to success for the year were activate, breathe and outcomes.
Breathe refers to pausing before making commitments. I have difficulty saying no to requests for change management support, which creates two risks: overextending my firm’s capacity and having to pass on new assignments that better align with my skills and expertise. Breathe was a reminder to pause and thoughtfully consider each opportunity before saying yes (or no). It worked well until it didn’t. In September, I fell into old behaviours and lost control of my calendar. I quickly got back on track but suffered the consequences of my actions.
Outcomes prompted me to use consistent evaluation criteria for new engagements. I was inspired by Marshall Goldsmith’s advice to “make sure that the benefits are truly worth your efforts” before doing something. This word was a big help in defining and following a set of assessment questions for each opportunity. I passed on a few speaking gigs and consulting assignments because they didn’t fit my parameters.
This year has been one of the best for pursuing my goals. Posting the three words on my monitor kept them top of mind except in the early fall when I let busyness distract me. Next year I will also write them out daily, as recommended by Chris Brogan’s business partner, Rob Hatch.
I am looking forward to 2023. I have some exciting assignments, and I will be a kidney donor for a close friend. My three words to guide me to success are room, reconnect and begin.
Reconnect reflects my desire to check in with family members, friends and former colleagues whom I haven’t seen in years. I have been thinking about Isaac Newton’s quote, “If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of Giants,” and I don’t want to wait to say thank you. My Change on the Run podcast was an excellent vehicle for reconnecting with peers, and I intend to reach out to more people who have made a difference in my life.
Begin is a motivator to move into new territory, personally and professionally. The opposite of growth is stagnation, and I want to challenge myself to take on new experiences, build new skills and meet new people. This is a year for new beginnings, and I intend to be in the right mindset to see and pursue them.
Working through the My Three Words exercise has helped me define success for 2023. It has also given me tools to align my behaviour with achieving them. I know I will assess my accomplishments in December, and I am confident in my roadmap to accomplish my goals.
Ten years of using the My Three Words planning exercise has helped me achieve many of my annual goals. You might want to try it to see if it works for you, and might even have a tenth anniversary, too.
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