Who would have thought that back when the clock rolled over to the year 2020 that we would be ending the year like we have!
As we wind up this crazy year, one practice keeps me grounded and hopeful going forward is the practice of reflecting on the year and choosing three words to guide me throughout the next year. This is a practice I learned from Chris Brogan, and one that has proven to be beneficial to me both personally and professionally.
Since 2014, I select three words at the beginning of the year that will set my intentions, drive my actions, and align my purpose throughout the year.
Choosing three words is something Chris Brogan has been doing since 2006. He sums it this way:
“The three words are a shorthand representation of your bigger story. It’s kind of like how an icon isn’t the software program. It’s just a way for you to mentally access all the work you’re doing.”
Before I choose #my3words for the new year, I spend some time reflecting on the past year. (Thankfully, the weather has been pretty nice in Alabama so I have been able to do my reflecting during my outdoor runs – my best thinking time.)
Here’s what Chris writes about choosing your three words:
Choose any three words you feel will guide you forward. I can tell you a few things about this:
- Don’t make it a phrase. “Publish the book” is a terrible choice. “The” is wasted.
- Try to make the words actionable. “Expand” is better than “bigger.”
- The more utilitarian the word can be, the better. These words have to be your compass.
- Stick with the 3 words all year. Every time I’ve changed one a month or two later, the year mucks up. I can’t explain it. But I can report it.
- Years where I’ve tried “fancy” words with layers of meaning, I lost the thread. Use plain words, maybe.
- BUT the words don’t have to mean anything to anyone but you. Don’t worry about explaining them.
In 2020, one of my words was BUDGET. I started in January and learned, studied, and calculated. I’m proud to say that I’ve learned a great deal and put it into action throughout the entire year. There are so many great people that are in the debt-free community that I’ve discovered this year. I’m thrilled to go into new year armed with knowledge and consistent habits that will lead our family forward in a positive way.
INVEST, in its most obvious form, is an extension of the learning I experienced in 2020. Now that I’ve learned to budget, I want to learn about investing and growing the money that I’ve learned to budget.
Other ways I want to invest in the new year:
- I want to invest in old and new relationships.
- I want to invest more time for experiences and travel for our family
- I want to invest in myself – from exercise to personal growth and learning new skills
STRETCH is another word with several meanings for me in 2021. Hubs and I plan to start doing yoga together at home in the evenings, which will be entertaining as well as physically helpful.
STRETCH also applies to my work life. After 15 years in school leadership, I still want to keep learning and adding to my “leadership toolbox.” It means having to get outside my comfort zone and continue to try new things.
There’s one other area that will require a stretch, and it has to do with what I’ve learned about budgeting in 2020. What I’ve discovered from the frugal, budget, and debt-free communities is that I was not the only one who didn’t know how to budget! I turned 52 in 2020, and I felt that everyone else must already know all the things about budgeting. Turns out I was way wrong. Now, I want to give back. I’m a teacher at heart, and I want to teach others what I’ve learned. I’m stretching myself in 2021 in a new project where I can do just that. (Be on the lookout for it!)
DISCIPLINE was one of my words when I began this journey in 2014. There were so many signs pointing to getting back to having this word as a daily reminder in 2021.
During 2020, I had participated for 50 days in the #75hard challenge until I had minor surgery that sidelined me. I ran 4-6 days per week in the summer, usually averaging about 20 miles per week. I decluttered many rooms in my house and completed several DIY projects. I saved a lot of money and paid off several credit cards during 2020. Whew!
I’m not looking for accomplishments, I’m looking for consistency. I’m looking for the action that causes you to “do it even when you don’t feel like doing it.” While I got a lot done in 2020, there were still times that I wasted time. Times when I procrastinated. Times when I “should have.” I plan to change all of that in 2021.