In 2012, i stumbled upon Chris Brogan’s Blog. I was searching for New Year’s Resolution ideas and this post changed how I view that process completely. Instead of a resolution, he picks three words.
In this post, Chris lays out his reasons for abandoning New Year’s Resolutions. Instead, he focuses his year on three words.
”… find three words that could be used as lighthouses to guide you through stormy seas, that can be used as flags on the battlefield of your challenges, words that will bolster you and give you a direction that goes beyond the goals you might attach as a result of these words.” -Chris Brogan
His reasoning is important. He’s onto something here. By focusing on three BIG words, we can set our goals up against them and see how they stack up. I’ve tried this for a few years now and I have to say that it is much more impactful than setting a New Year’s Resolution. But why?
Three Words vs. One Goal
New Year’s Resolutions are typically set on one goal. We want to get in shape, lose weight, find Nirvana…whatever, you get the point, right? The thing is, people usually fail, or feel like they fail, because those are goals and not mindsets.
People who want to get in shape, for instance, might join a gym, start a diet, etc.. As things get tough, they abandon one then the other and find themselves exactly where they were the year before. Or, they pick something like “quit day-drinking.” Then they accomplish the goal in a few weeks and they have nothing new to aim at for the rest of the year. What good is that?
When we pick three words—and this is the brilliance of Chris Brogan’s idea—we choose a new mindset, rather than a new goal. If we change our mind, we can change everything else about our lives.
”Don’t wait for the world to change. Change your mind about the world.” -Alan Cohen
Okay, let’s bring this down to Earth. Let’s say that you choose “Happy” as one of your words for 2018. By embracing that mindset, you can weigh all of your goals and daily actions against that mindset. So, does your commute make you happy? No? Can you change it up? Does eating out make you happy? Maybe you should do it more. If something isn’t allowing you to be happy, you can change it.
A Word of Warning
It is important to realize that this is an example. We choose happiness, it does not come from externalities. That being said, sometimes choosing happiness means changing our position in this world so that we are exposed to less of those externalities.
How to Approach the Three Words
This is completely up to you, but I have some ideas to consider.
All lives are comprised of three major facets: spirit, relationships, and work. Before you get too hung up on my definitions, please allow me to explain what I actually mean by each.
People are made up of many parts. They are physical beings, they are mental beings (some more than others ;)), and they are their beliefs and ideas. In my parlance, the “spirit” part encompasses all of these parts. It is all the internal things that make me me and you you.
In addition to being spiritual beings, human beings are social animals. We need community. It is an actual need, not just a nice thing to have. That is important. How we relate to others and how they relate to us matters. This part of humanity can give more fulfillment or cause more harm than anything else. Being intentional in this part of our lives is important at for a healthy and fulfilling life.
Life is not about existing. People are on this earth for a purpose. Now, we can debate who/what gives us that purpose, but I don’t think that anyone will disagree that it makes no sense to simply exist. People want to DO something with their lives. They want to make a difference. People want to leave a mark on the world. They want to ”put a ding in the universe.” Whatever that looks like in your life, I call “work.”
What About Physical
Now, I’m sure that someone somewhere is asking, “What about physical?” So glad you asked. Yes, we live in a physical world and yes our physical bodies matter. Here’s the thing, our minds (aka “spirit”) and our bodies are inextricably connected. If we go back to our “Happy” example, do you feel better when you workout? Are you happier when your weight is under control? See what I mean? Our physical selves are an offshoot of–and product of–our minds. As Wayne Dyer says:
”We are not human beings in search of a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings immersed in a human experience.” Wayne W. Dyer
How to Pick Three Words
Pick a word for each of these three facets. For Spirit, chose a word that gives you a growth mindset. The same goes for relationships and work. Take your time and pick these words carefully, but also trust you intuition. Your spirit knows what the universe (or Source or God) has for you, if you pay attention.
That sounds a little woo-woo, so let me break down MY process for doing this. Please note that this is only MY process not THE process. Take what you can from this, but follow your heart when figuring out your three words. Okay?
When I set out to do this, I grab three 3×5 cards. Have you noticed that I love these things? On the top of each I write the part of my life: i.e. Spirit, Relationships, Work. Then I take an hour and write as many words as I can come up with that relate to my desire for each. The trick to this is to write as fast as possible and not to worry about repeating yourself. Try not to think about what you already wrote, only write what you think as you think it. You’ll understand why in a second.
Put them Away
When your time is up, or the cards are full, put them away in a pocket. Don’t look back at them until tomorrow. Try not to think too much about them for the rest of the day.
The Next Day
After a good night’s sleep, take out three fresh 3×5 cards and do the whole thing again. DO NOT look back at your previous day’s cards. When you are done this time, take out yesterday’s cards and compare them. Circle the words that repeat. Highlight the words that really resonate. How will you know if they “resonate?” They will make your heart jump, your throat swell, or tears to flow. Trust me, you’ll know.
Now look at the list. What words jump out? Which ones repeat? Which ones are so similar that they could be combined? You will begin to see a pattern. The more you look, the more clear it will become. Now, there are times where two or three words are hard to decide between. In these cases, I suggest that you read those three words just before turning out the lights and going to sleep. Ask your subconscious to help you decide. I promise that you will wake up knowing which one to pick.
How to use Your Three Words
When you finally pick your three words, put each on a post-it note and stick it to your bathroom mirror. Do the same in your car, you cubicle or desk, your planner, your journal…Put these three words everywhere. You want them to become completely front of mind. Every time you have to make a choice or face an obstacle, ask yourself, “Will this get me closer to my three words?” If not, pass. If it will, you know what you need to do, so go do it already.
Want to Know
Want to know what three words I chose for 2018? Check out this post where I lay them out and what they mean to me. Have you chosen your three words? What are they? Let us know on our Facebook Page. We would love to virtually hang out with you there. It’s a great place to meet some like-minded people and have great discussions around making a better life. I hope to see you there.