I don’t do new year’s resolutions, and I certainly don’t take on anything huge in the first month of the calendar year. My energy levels just aren’t at a place where I can handle massive undertakings during the month of January. That’s why the exercise of exploring three words for the year is not only compelling to me, but pretty much a necessity. The three words keep me on track during my month of recharge and renewal, becoming more engrained during the month so I can really use them to their fullest in the months to follow.
(Note: The three word exercise was something that was introduced to me, along with several others, by Chris Brogan. It’s an exercise well worth doing today or at any time of the year where you feel you need something simple to connect to, so I highly recommend you give it a try.)
My three words this year all begin with the letter “f” and that wasn’t something that was planned. As I started to write down some ideas of what my words could be, these three stood out on the paper like no others.
This word will inform not only the other two words I’ve chosen, but will be something I really work towards doing more of in the months ahead.
I took archery classes last year, and one of the things that my teacher told the class was that the only opposition in archery is yourself. Only you can get in your own way in that sport. In fact, that’s one of the things that makes me enjoy archery so much.
Without focus, you veer off course and don’t come as close to hitting the bullseye, both in archery and in life. Heck, you may not even hit the target at all if your focus isn’t where it needs to be.
I hit a lot of targets last year, but I realized I also have hit my limit with the amount of targets I should be shooting at in the first place. As the year went by, I found my aim was off and I didn’t hit my targets nearly as well as I have in the past. So I’m going to improve my focus this year by having less targets. The idea is that with less targets, I’ll have better results throughout the year with all of them as opposed to only a few.
My friend C.C. Chapman picked “sharpen” as one of his words for this year, and my choice of “forward” follows a similar thread. Everything I do this year will be designed to move myself forward, and I’ll be avoiding things that either keep me stagnant or moving in a direction that is anything but forward.
I’m not saying I won’t remain still for periods of time; often those moments of stillness really allow you to move forward in a more intentional and improved way. But I’m not going to get sucked into objects, apps, media, or anything that is going to propel me forward. That means less surfing the web for content and more creation of content. That means less time eating crap and more time cooking. That means less spending money on the unwarranted now so that I can have more money for the warranted later.
Again, focus is key here. Even though the year gone by had been a great one for me, I’m determined to be even better at moving forward this year because I want to go further than I’ve ever gone in one year before.
Last, but certainly not least, is family.
Even though I am a stay-at-home parent, there are times where I’ve not shifted as well as I would like from being at work to being at home. I’ve gotten a lot better at it over the years, but I know there’s room for improvement. So I decided to make family one of my words so that I hone in on that in the months ahead more than ever before.
As of this writing I’ve stopped working on Sundays as a regular occurrence. There will be times where Sunday work is going to need to happen, but I’m going to make it the exception rather than the rule. I’m also ending my workday at 2:30 PM going forward so that I can be with my daughter when she gets home from school. This means I’ll be getting back to work later on after everyone goes to bed so that I don’t lose any office hours in the process. I’m also going to get my family in a financial position so I can have a dedicated writing studio that will allow me to better “leave the office behind” at the end of the workday and essentially “come home” to be with my wife and kids.
Finally, I’m going to work on getting in better shape so that I can live longer and see my family flourish and grow. I want to be a great-grandparent one day, and my current fitness routine isn’t something that will have a hand in realizing that dream. I want to look and feel better, which will have a direct impact on my family as well.
I’ve put my three words on my NeuYear calendar, right at the top where they’ll be seen every day. I’m also going to have them placed on the front facing of my Insider shelf so that I can see them as I work. I suggest that once you pick your three words for the year that you make sure they are visible as often as possible, informing you daily.
The three words exercise is a valuable one, and it’s something that will stick with you far longer than any new year’s resolution will. It also will help you achieve more in one year than anything else, as long as you keep them at top of mind and let them help shape the year ahead.
Photo credit: alcohol_ic via SXC.HU
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