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3 Words for 2017

Published January 3, 2017


New Year’s resolutions have never worked for me. As best as I can tell resolutions just became overwhelming for me, and there was too much to keep track of. As a result by the 2nd week of January, sometimes the 2nd day of January, I had failed miserably and lacked the desire to right the ship and get back on track. 11 years ago Chris Brogan, marketing guru and entrepreneur, wrote a post called 3 words. I did not see that post until he released his 3 words for 2016. In that post he explained all of the flaws around making resolutions for the new year, and I agreed with it wholeheartedly. Then he laid out the philosophy of picking 3 words to focus on to help guide your choices in the new year towards better results. That really resonated with me, so last year I gave it a try. Unfortunately I wasn’t quite ready for the challenge and once again I failed. But something was different this year. I was actually looking forward to Chris’ updated post for 2017 and was looking for a little inspiration. But he wisely, I’m guessing intentionally, didn’t post his until January 1. By then I had already settled on my 3 words: Focus. Stewardship. Purpose. I had been journaling and brainstorming at the end of the year and I found some common threads that I was able to use to extrapolate not only my 3 words but I was able to coalesce those words into a theme for the year. My theme is “Achieving Focus through Stewardship of Resources and Living on Purpose”.
So what is going to make this year different? For me the difference is I was ready to apply myself. Something Chris said in his blog post also got me excited. He said to pick words that relate to more than just one area of your life, and that really hit me. I think I had previously been so focused on work that I didn’t have any time or bandwidth to think about how 3 words could apply to my entire life, personal and professional. The 3 words I picked apply to everything I want to accomplish this year to help me be a better leader, better husband, better dad, better brother and better friend. As I unpack the words and isolate them, focus is a fairly benign and overused word so it isn’t that exciting. But when it is paired with stewardship and purpose it takes on new meaning. Focus is something I want to possess and maintain throughout the year in every area of my life, and good stewardship and purpose will help me achieve it. Stewardship is a big word usually applied in a religious sense around tithing and giving money to a specific entity, but it actually means much more than that. The New Oxford dictionary defines stewardship is “the job of supervising or taking care of something” and I really like that definition. I need to pay better attention to how I spend my time, spend my money, spend my influence, and spend my energy. I need to take care of myself better. I need to exercise more. I need to get some things off the to do list personally that have gotten lost in the busyness. The word purpose is usually considered a noun, but I am using it as a verb, as in living life on purpose; being more intentional in everything I do. I want to live with such intention that if I start to veer off course the word ‘purpose’ will scream at me to be careful and check myself and my motives. But the word purpose is also a noun and I use it that way too. Is what I am about to do going to help me accomplish the purpose I have outlined for my year? If not than why am I doing it?
I realize it’s only January 3rd, but these 3 words have empowered me so much already. I am eating much healthier and with more intentionality, I set a firm time to be done with work at 5 yesterday and walked out of my home office at 5:00, and I am thinking about the purpose I want to achieve in area of my life. The key is to keep my 3 words front and center. They are everywhere. They are my desktop background and they are written on a notecard I carry with me, and soon they will be in my car and on my bathroom mirror. As I achieve some success I know that will fuel the desire to carry on.
For me this all about creating healthy habits and not a “resolution”, but I do resolve to keep pushing forward, and showing some grace when I fall short, which of course will happen from time to time. But I will not lose heart. I will live with Focus, Stewardship, and Purpose in 2017 and see where the year carries me.
Thanks to Chris Brogan for sharing the 3 Words exercise with his online community for more than a decade now. I am looking forward to living this out and achieving an outstanding year and I wish you all a fantastic 2017!