Since 2013, I’ve set aside New Year’s resolutions. Instead, I’ve gone with something that I found in a Chris Brogan blog post, where he suggested choosing 3 words for the year. The idea is to pick words that represent what you want to consistently work on over the next 365 days. The words do not align with specific goals, but instead embody the mindset that I want to cultivate. It leaves room for pivots and surprises, but still helps me focus.
For example, in 2015, I chose the word “author” as one of my three. As the year progressed, that word took over my thinking so much that it led to writing and publishing 7 books in less than 4 years (the 7th is with the publisher and ready to release soon). Choosing that word helped me shift from the mindset of an aspiring author to someone who finds it hard to imagine a day without writing and making some sort of progress toward the next book.
Even in years when I don’t remind myself of the three words often, they pester, prod, and prompt until they begin to show up in my life and work.
Here are the words that I’ve used in the past:
2013 – flourish, bless, befriend
2014 – fearless, awaken, Rogers (as in Mr. Rogers), and Epic Win (Yes, I broke the three word rule that year.)
2015 – author, impact, family
2016 – write, design, launch
2017 – curiosity, creation, compassion
2018 – experiments, prototypes, quests
What about 2019? I’m going with wonder, gratitude, and results.
Wonder – This is a word that intrigued me in 2018 as I studied the psychology and philosophy of wonder and awe. I also experimented with the role of wonder in my life, as will show up in my forthcoming book, 12 Quests. Now I’m ready to lean into this theme for 2019.
Amid my reading, I became intrigued by the two sides of this word. There is wonder in the sense of experiencing a moment of awe. Then there is wonder, often prompted by the former, of questioning, inquiring…thinking deeply about something. In that sense, this is also about being curious, exploring beneath the surface.
Gratitude – This is also a theme that will show up in my 12 Quests project. I’m fascinated by the science of the word and I already experience immense gratitude in my own life. What happens when I take that to the next level?
Results – I chose this word for many reasons. My current role demands that I be focused on specific results. The job is not about me. It is about the mission. At the same time, I’m clearly in the middle of Erik Erikson’s developmental stage of stagnation versus generativity. It is not enough to say that I have a particular position, that I’ve published a certain number of books, or obtained some measure of recognition. As cliche as it might sound, I want to make a real and measurable difference in the areas where I’m called to invest my time, thought, and effort this year. I have plans to finish up a couple more books in 2019, but publishing isn’t the goal. I want to write and publish books that people seek, value, and that benefits them in significant ways. My goal isn’t to be a leader of an organization. I want to be part of a mission and movement that is having an important and measurable impact in people’s lives, and in the world. If being a leader is part of doing that, then I embrace it, as I did recently with the career shift.
I’m looking forward to 2019. I see so many promising possibilities, meaning-rich challenges, and emerging opportunities. I look forward embracing them with a focus on wonder, gratitude, and mission-minded results.