Last year, I did three words for 2010. The premise is simple. Choose three words that you can refer back to again and again to focus yourself on goals important to you in the coming year. It’s both an alternative to New Year’s resolutions that no one keeps anyway and a simplified, easy-to-recall means of reminding yourself what’s most important to you in your life.
Here’s my explanation from last year.
I don’t think that there are many rules about how to do this. I would argue that they shouldn’t be words that are already fundamental to your everyday life to the point where I’d call them givens. So for me, I don’t think making ‘father’ or ‘husband’ one of my words would get me farther along the path. (I’d better be doing those already!)
I’d also suggest not making the three words into a phrase like, “Get stuff done.” The best ones I’ve seen are when people bring together three separate words that may not be that related to each other, each word describing a specific goal or facet of a goal. And don’t be an overachiever and develop different three-word sets for different parts of your life. Just three words for your entire life.
Examples I saw:
“Debt, Family, No” (develop a plan to get out of debt, spend more time with family and less with work, learn how to say no to people)
“Gifts, Awareness, Ownership” (try to see the gifts each person has regardless of anything else, be aware of all the possibilities happening around me, take ownership of my life and not blame things I can’t control)
“Sandman, Grace, Cayenne” (sleep more – the Sandman brings good dreams, show myself and others more grace and kindness, and spice up life some)
This past year, mine were: proclaim, connect, and bamboo. (See more explanation here.)
Our first half of 2010 had a lot of twists and turns, few of which were good. To say it was a rough seven-month span is an understatement. But it really was a tale of two years. ‘Bamboo’ turned out to be the most valuable – perhaps the most prescient – in this crazy year. I had to marshall so much of my energy and focus on these challenges that ‘proclaim’ and ‘connect’ didn’t happen as well as I’d hoped. But I learned to cut myself some slack there, as the Bamboo Way requires.
From last year:
Bamboo is – among other things – an important symbol in Zen Buddhism. It is very strong, flexible, supple, and resilient. It will bend under tremendous weight but not break and still be able to snap back to upright when the weight is gone. It responds exactly as it needs to under pressure, bending neither too much nor too little. It is the opposite of tension and rigidity. It has a profound ability to flex and adapt even to vast changes.
I wanted to find a simple word that for me captured the foundations for physical health, emotional health, and attitude. I think in order to be like bamboo you have to find ways to bring yourself more into balance, take care of yourself so your body can respond to things in the right way, practice a lifestyle that fosters calm, flexibility, and ease in the midst of great challenge and adversity, be open to opportunities and gifts that come from being a parent, and nurture a positive attitude about life.
After The Great Burnout, I had what I’ll call a ‘bamboo moment’, a realization that I had to make some changes in order to return to a more centered place. I bent, but I did not break. And now I feel like that resiliency I wasn’t even sure I had has brought me back to a place of growing strength. It’s still hard, but I feel as strong as I have in a long, long time.
And now it’s time for three new words for 2011. I think I already know what they are, but I stlll have a few more days to ponder them.
So, what are your three words for 2011?