Last year I came across a blog post from Chris Brogan called, My 3 Words for 2013. For each year, Chris selects three words that serve as a focus, regardless of his more specific goals. You can read his 2013 post here, although I expect that he will soon have a 2014 version. I have hundreds of goals that I refine each year, but I appreciate the simplicity and focus that comes with his idea of choosing three guiding words.
2013 was my first year trying it out. I chose flourish, bless and befriend as my three words. Flourish became a code word for some of the ideas shared in Martin Seligman’s book with that title. I read and reread the book, and many of the ideas became a natural part of my daily thought and life in 2013. For bless and befriend, those were both about taking my eyes off myself and looking to help and serve the people around me, while also making new connections, meeting and learning from others. This made for one of the more rewarding years of my life. I wrote and shared more online than ever before, and that sharing provided me with opportunities to connect with fascinating people around the world. I took informal connections as a chance to volunteer and help out in small ways. As this blog went from dozens of visits a month to thousands, it become a tool for meeting new people with shared passions, and offering ideas and perspectives that might be of interest and benefit to others.
What about 2014? Already six months ago I found myself thinking ahead to potential words, listing dozens of prospects. It was not easy to refine my priorities to three, but in the last couple of days, I finally got it down to four. I know that breaks Brogan’s rule of three, but we have to take our own paths in life. With that in mind, my four words for 2014 are:
This is a reminder to let convictions, mission, vision, values and goals direct my thoughts and actions; not fears and uncertainties. Fearfulness is a place that leads us to look at and live in the world from a particular perspective. There is another place dominated by trust, faith, conviction, confidence, peace, and security. It is a place from which we can think and act according to our fundamental beliefs and values. The other buries those beliefs and values under a pile of doubts, anxieties, and unhelpful speculations about potential negative outcomes. This year will be about spending more time in that second place.
Robert Frost is quoted as saying, “I am not a teacher but an awakener.” This is a word that is about coming to life, stirring up one’s interest (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/awake), becoming alert, bringing things into conscious awareness, becoming active, rousing a feeling (OED), to realize or recognize that which was otherwise hidden from us (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/awake). 2014 will be a year of personal awakening and helping others experience awakenings. As an aside, I am also using this word as a challenge to spend a year learning about and from the writings of Robert Frost.
Mr. Rogers was a social entrepreneur. He demonstrated genuine interest in others and designed his entire work around the concept of loving and caring for one’s “neighbor.” He enjoyed the arts, learning and discovering new things (and invited others to join him). He was principled and engaged with the very aspects of contemporary life that most concerned him (namely television and well-being of children). He was a creator, teacher and author. He was widely known, but wore his recognition with humility and to further his cause. He reached out to new people, learned from them, honored them and their work, and shared it with others. Not that I want to model my life exactly after Mr. Rogers, but as a person who is interested in social entrepreneurship and living out of the principle of loving one’s neighbor, I suspect that his life and writings have many valuable insights for me in 2014.
At 2013 ISTE conference, Jane McGonigal helped a few more educators add this phrase to their vocabulary. For gamers, it is a well-known phrase. It can be about snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. It can be about an amazing and unexpected accomplishment or outcome. It can also be an accomplishment or win with a wow factor. In 2014, I am striving for epic wins.