My Three Words for 2021

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, in the time before the pandemic, I chose Improve, Prepare, and Confront. How did I do in 2020? Honestly, I couldn't have picked better, though I certainly wish the circumstances were better.

Improve was about taking ideas across the finish line, and there was a ton of stuff that happened in 2020 to do that, to finally get some work projects in a polished state. I'm almost done with the Third Edition of AI for Marketers. I released two courses. And thanks to the pandemic, I'm actually in better physical condition at the end of the year than at the start, what with no travel and plenty of time for fitness.

Prepare... well, I first took serious note of a new disease mentioned by epidemiologists in mid-January, and released my first warning to friends on January 20, 2020 that something was up, that it was time to prepare. And prepare we all did - from toilet paper to food to masks and respirators. 2020 was the year preparation paid off in spades.

Finally, Confront was about tackling fears, and thanks to the pandemic, that worked out pretty well. From venturing out as necessary for food and supplies in the early days when we didn't know how bad things were or how the disease really spread to fighting internal perceptions, I confronted quite a lot. I got involved in politics, volunteering, for the first time, and we all spent a great deal of time confronting people who were not working in our overall best interests, like people who refuse to wear masks.

So 2020 actually turned out to be a good year personally, despite the conditions in the world. What about 2021?

Accelerate. I created a ton of momentum in 2020, and I want to build on that. Continue to improve my fitness. Continue to improve the work I’ve done. But also build new things, build things from scratch. Recall that momentum in physics is mass times velocity, whereas force is mass times acceleration, so the things that are working, I will make work faster.

Create. One of the things I took on in 2020 was creating in new and different formats, like attempting to write fiction and do amateur music creation. I want to do more of that but in different ways. I got a new iPad over the holidays, and have been playing with Adobe Fresco (which is an amazing piece of software) to do some attempts at painting.

Experience. Originally, I had picked enjoy as the verb here, but experience is better. 2020 had the feeling of sameness too often - same routine each day, and that's a bad headspace to be in. There's enough variation in each day - or there could be - if I look for it, if I create it. This year, I want to experience more, and in more detail. That's partly stop and smell the roses, but also partly take the road less traveled.

Remember, these are guideposts, not iron-clad rules. Things happen - like global pandemics. Even small scale things, on the order of us as individuals, can make the best-laid plans go totally off the rails. So if and when life throws you a curveball, don't hesitate to change your focus either.

Whatever and however you choose to celebrate the turning of a page in time, I hope your 2021 is an improvement over 2020.


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