3 Words for 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!

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Bobby Shaw

I am a former restaurant company executive with a passion for developing existing and future leaders to achieve high standards. I love helping organizations develop strong people cultures with an emphasis on leadership development that result in top-notch operations and better business results. I have over 30 years in the restaurant business in all facets of operations, from my start at McDonald's in the grill area in 1984 to overseeing 200+ restaurants with Chipotle Mexican Grill from 2002-2012 to leading Freebirds World Burrito's resurgence from 2013-2016 to working with the Salad and Go restaurant startup as CEO in 2016/2017. My real world experience transcends the typical operations background with a focus in leadership development and coaching. At the core of my background and experience, I believe that how leaders get results is just as important as getting them, and what got them where they are, won't necessarily get them where they want to go. I work closely with individual leaders and companies to improve their results through understanding how their strengths impact the overall results. My goal is to help business leaders and companies learn how to leverage the strengths of their employees by understanding their strengths and what they’re good at, and using that knowledge to positively impact their entire organization.

11 thoughts on “3 Words for 2017

  1. Bobby,

    I am leaving a comment because I am not sure how else to reach you. I just read your blog and I loved it. I am staring at a list of more than 20 things that I want to accomplish in 2017 and so far so good, but it does feel overwhelming. I believe overall in living a principled like one that doesn’t have a list of do’s and do not but has a foundation for the decisions that I make. So focusing on who I am, and how I want to enhance myself can be boiled down into 3 words…I think I know 2 of the 3 words but I want to think about this for a week to make sure I choose words that will lay the path to continued success in 2017 and the years beyond.

    We are having a Commercial Real Estate Success Summit on March 7, 2017. The event is about making 2017 your best year. I know that in 2017 your a dedicated to paying better attention to how your spend your time. So this might be quite a big ask….But would you consider speaking on a panel about your inspiration, motivation and routines of success.
    Its a short breakfast event that will last from 8:30 am to 10 am. Please Advise 646-675-7613.

    1. Hi Devin! Thanks for the kind words about my blog. Can you give me a little more information on the Summit, such as the location and who is sponsoring it?


      Bobby Shaw

      1. Bobby,

        I am so sorry I never saw the message that you send back to me on 1/12/17. It must have gotten caught in my spam filter. The Summit went well. Our goal was 40 attendees and we had about 55. It was downtown at 11th and Lavaca at the Texas Hospital Association building. It only lasted about 1.5 hour I like to quick high energy events. The goal of the event having thought about what was their one important goal for 2017. If everything else stays the same what is the one important goal – that will make the difference. I have been reflecting on my one word for 2017. Principled – it is really helping to focus on what is really important to me. Once again, I am so sorry to have missed your message. I am headed out of town on Vacation tomorrow but I would love to grab a cup of coffee sometime in the next 30 days. Would you be able to spare 30 minutes. Thanks, Devony

      2. Have a great vacation, and absolutely I would love to connect with you when you get back. Just let me know when and where.

      3. Hey Bobby, I am back in town. Are you available this Thursday April 6 or Next Thursday April 13. I work downtown – I am not sure what part of Austin you reside. Let me know area and we can pick a place.

      4. Hi Devony! Welcome back. I live in Northwest Austin, so a bit of a ways from downtown. Perhaps we could meet somewhere in the middle? Let’s shoot tomorrow 4/6 if that still works for you. I have a call at 2PM but am free up until then.

        If that won’t work we can set something up for next Thursday 4/13. Just let me know and we’ll figure it out. Be well.



      5. Hi,

        I am sorry just got this. I am available today around 12:30pm if that works for you we can meet in the NW area maybe at Russell’s Bakery and coffee Shop:
        3339 Hancock Dr, Austin, TX 78731. If you’r not available still then we could shoot for next week.

  2. Hi Devony! Let’s shoot for next week. I could do something later on Thursday afternoon. Maybe grab coffee or tea at Russell’s? Want to shoot for 2:30 on the 13th? Just let me know. You can reach me at bobby@bobbyshawconsulting.com and my cell number is 512-986-2128. Thanks so much!


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