Over the past few years, I’ve followed a practice shared with me by my friend Chris Brogan.
Every year I choose three words that I use as a waypoint for my year. These words are focal points – Productivity Pillars of sorts – that guide my year the way I want it to go.
I usually choose words that all start with the same letter. In 2016, my words were Harmony, Health, and Helpfulness. I’d say I was successful with these for the most part, but I wanted to shake things up this year a bit. So I skipped a whole bunch of letters (I was going to go with three words that started with “I”) and found inspiration in My Three Words from an unlikely source: a professional wrestler.
Seth Rollins is arguably one of the top professional wrestlers today. However, two years ago he severely injured his knee while working in the ring. This put him out of action for 6 months. He was even forced to relinquish his WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Upon winning a year-end wrestling award, he said that he would redesign and rebuild himself, and also reclaim the WWE World Heavyweight Championship that he never lost.
I drew inspiration and motivation from those words. I feel as if I fell off of my path in 2016, despite having one of my best years professionally. The words I’d used in 2016 left me slightly out of alignment. The harmony I’d found was based on where I was…rather than I where I wanted to be. My health plans in 2016 were not a good fit for me, yet I still tried to make them work. I was being helpful in some respects, but not as in-depth as I’d like to be.
I need to redesign and rebuild myself in the year to come. In doing this, I will also reclaim what my intentions were when I started my entrepreneurial journey.
So My Three Words for 2017 are Redesign, Rebuild, and Reclaim.
When I first started Productivityist, my plan was to make it a productivity resource for those looking for help in being more productive. I spent a lot of time writing about apps since I knew that was what I’d been known for (having written for Cult of Mac and The Next Web in my online writing career). I wanted Productivityist to be as popular as the sites I’d worked for (WorkAwesome, Lifehack) and perhaps even usurp them in popularity.
Then I decided to make Productivityist look bigger than it was. I stopped using “I” and replaced it with “we.” While I had a small team helping me, I was completing social media updates as if it wasn’t me responding or entering them; I made it seem as if it was someone else.
At some point, I started to not like what I was doing. Not just the stuff I knew didn’t feel right, but everything about it. I can’t pinpoint when that happened, but it came to a head over the summer break. I loved what I was doing when I was at events and speaking. I loved a lot of the deeper writing I was doing. But I felt as if I was trying to do two things at once: be myself and be Productivityist.
So I made the choice to stop doing that.
I’m in the midst of my Redesign right now. I know it won’t happen overnight. It will take persistent and consistent effort. But I can feel it’s working. That’s why it’s the ideal word to kick off My Three Words for the year.
This word is getting a workout right now too. I’m actually “rebuilding” while redesigning. The Rebuild component involves things like:
1. The Productivityist Website. I’m doing a behind the scenes overhaul of the content. I’m no longer dismissing apps as something I won’t commit to writing about, but I’m going to do it in a way that has more intentionality for my audience. Everything within the site is going to align with the properties of my personal productivity methodology, TimeCrafting. I want things (like finding content) to be simpler. I want things to be flexible, such as how and what we’ll write about. I want the content to have staying power – to be durable. These aren’t things that can just happen overnight.
2. Productivityist Coaching. I wrote about this at length in the latest edition of the My Monthly Theme (MMT) Email Series. If you want to read the latest edition, here it is.
3. My Health and Wellness. I’m doubling down on my health and wellness this year. As of this week, I finished up my last Sodastream syrup bottle at home. I won’t be buying any more. I’ve already pulled back on drinking as much alcohol as I used to (maybe having one beer a week outside the home at this point). I’ve mapped out a regular fitness schedule as well, which consists of a hybrid of Dai Manuel’s workouts, DDP Yoga, and the C25K program for cardio. (Admittedly, I’ve fallen off a bit since the holiday season began but I’m writing this while on my FitDesk so that’s got to account for something.)
The Rebuild is taking place, slowly but surely. And because of the Redesign component, I know I’ll be pleased with what gets constructed.
Just like Seth Rollins, through my Redesign and Rebuild, I will be able to Reclaim what I really want out of work and life. Rollins wants his championship back – the one he never lost. I want to focus on why I started Productivityist in the first place.
I’m working on reclaiming my message behind my work. That’s one of the reasons I decided to give up the book deal I had.
I’m working on reclaiming my time so I can build better products and programs for my audience. That’s one of the reasons why I’m expanding my Productivityist Coaching offerings.
I’m working on reclaiming my health so I can serve everyone in my life better. That includes my family, my friends, and you.
The funny thing about My Three Words for 2017 is that they embody one of the words I use to define personal productivity: Intention. By placing these words – Redesign, Rebuild, Reclaim – in prominent locations in my world (my TimeCrafting plan, the hoodie I’m wearing, my desktop and iOS wallpapers), they are going to attract the other word I use to define personal productivity: Attention.
Now it’s time for move forward with them. To stop guessing…and start going.