One of my favorite exercises that I’ve performed every year since he first introduced it is Chris Brogan’s Three Words. Rather than create resolutions which are difficult to keep, the three words exercise puts together three words that form your mantra for the coming year. My twist on it is to restrict it to just verbs, because verbs are actions to take. I like the three words as an easy way to remind myself of what I’m supposed to be doing, if I find that my mind and focus have wandered.
This time last year, I chose as my three words evolve, restore, and prevail. How did I do?
I set out to evolve my skills, to grow my expertise in machine learning and I definitely accomplished that. My new fitness practice was sidelined during the year by injury, but that’s something that I can work back in - and in terms of overall fitness, I’m ending the year better than I began it. So, check mark for evolve.
Restore was all about fixing much of the damage I had done to my finances and mental health the previous year, between launching a company, losing some friends, and family health issues. Trust Insights is closing the year well ahead of our goal (thank you!), those toxic former friends remain gone, and all is well in family life. So, check mark for restore.
Prevail was an interesting one, and one that wasn’t tied to a specific goal, just that I wanted to aggressively tackle more challenges. If there’s an area I fell short in during 2019, it was here - lots of good ideas, and certainly lots of things to fight for or against, and I feel like I didn’t step up enough. I did more than I expected to, from creating custom code to help my chosen political candidates, to creating and sharing more data than ever, but at the end of the day, given the mammoth challenges we all face, I felt like I could have done more. So, cross off prevail as a failure for 2019.
So, what does the next year hold? What will I accomplish? These are my three words. Improve. Prepare. Confront.
Improve is the opposite of evolve, and is something that I’m working on personally as well as professionally. I create a lot of new things. I create tons of new code every year, for example. But relatively little of it ever sees the light of day in production. Something my partner and cofounder Katie Robbert and I have discussed often over the years we’ve worked together is taking ideas across the finish line. That’s what improve is - taking something that’s 60% or 80% complete and bringing it to 100%. This will be my largest struggle because I get bored of things very easily, so my challenge here will be to stay engaged with an idea to its completion.
Prepare is an interesting one. Now that I’m back on my feet financially and making progress towards goals again, it’s time to start re-investing and preparing. We know, beyond a shadow of reasonable doubt, that rough times are ahead as a civilization. You need only look to the headlines about the economy, the climate, the world to see the challenges before us. Prepare is about preparing for those challenges. From a business perspective, it’s preparing for a downturn and making sensible changes proactively. From a personal perspective, it’s about honing and growing skills you might not think you’ll need, modern survival skills.
Confront is the antidote to failing at prevailing. One of the reasons I didn’t succeed at stepping up enough were my own fears and doubts. At this point in my life, my single greatest enemy is me, myself, my own fears and worries. Confront is about tackling those first, clearing them out of the way, so that I can do what needs to be done. You can’t make good decisions when your judgement is clouded by your own worst impulses, habits, and fears.
One of the challenges I posed myself last year was how my three words would affect others positively. How will these manifest in ways that benefit you?
Improve is self-evident. If we have the fortune to work together on a project, my focus on improvement benefits everyone and everything I work on.
Prepare is challenging; in terms of how it helps you, I’ll be sharing as much of my knowledge, efforts, and ideas as I can with you this year, here and at Trust Insights, in the hopes that it helps you prepare as well.
Confront is an internal fight with myself, but as I make progress against my own worst habits, I’ll serve you better. And if you’re fighting the same fight, I’m happy to listen as I can and offer what advice I can in my own battles.
So, that’s what I have to look forward to for 2020. What will you be doing to make yourself, your business, and your community better than ever? What will you change? What will you keep?
May your new year be all that you hope it to be, and thank you for being here with me.
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