My 3 Words For 2014

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Happy New Year! Welcome to 2014. What’s your plan?

I was never a fan of goal-setting… and even less of a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. For a long while, I was working within a framework called The Goal Cultivator courtesy of Dan Sullivan (aka The Strategic Coach). I felt like his perspective on goal cultivating versus goal setting was a new paradigm, and – in looking back at those initial exercises – it’s amazing to see how profound that experience was in shaping my present-day situation (special thanks to my dear friend, Barry Pascal, for introducing me to the work of The Strategic Coach). Every year, Chris Brogan (Trust Agents, The Impact Equation, etc…) does an exercise he calls, My 3 Words For The Year. Brogan explains it like this: "In an effort to tell bigger stories, I’ve found that the concept of three words allows me to think in more dimensions about what I want to do with my life and it lets me apply lots of tangible goals instead of what most people do when they focus on just a finite task. It’s a bit like turbo-charged goal planning." He unveils how his process for coming up with his three words for the year and unveils them on January 1st of each new year.

Going public.

I’ve been doing this exercise ever since Brogan first introduced it. Each year, around December – without prompting – I find myself starting to think about my three words. The pressure is on. It’s a good pressure, but it’s pressure. All of us hope to do more, be more and achieve more. Nailing it down to three words is always a welcome challenge. This year, I have decided to make them public (as I did last year). Part of the work that I did within The Goal Cultivator program proved to me that "putting it out there" makes it real, tangible and easier to focus on. So, here’s goes everything…

My 3 Words For 2014

  1. Lose. I hate to lose. We all hate to lose. You will hear people say that all of the greats have lost more often than they have won. I still want to "win." Badly. In 2014, I’m going to think deeply about the moments when things don’t work out the way I had hoped or wished for. I’m going to try to get through the mourning period quicker by forecasting the lessons of loss in a more pragmatic and less emotional way. Still, that’s one of the smaller reasons I chose "lose" as one of my words. In fact, I need to lose a lot of things in 2014. From a couple of pounds (who doesn’t need to lose that?) to the bad habits that I picked up last year of not reading enough books. This year, I’m going to lose many more tiny and nuanced changes I have had in my professional career and adjust them more than ever. "Lose" to me represents the same thinking as working with an editor (which, I sadly only get to do on bigger writing projects like a book or submitting a piece to the Harvard Business Review). I am going to do my best to lose and edit a lot of my current work tactics in an effort to "sharpen the sword" and gain more efficiency. Time to lose a bunch of stuff in 2014 that wasn’t working for me in 2013, and embrace the fact that to lose is a set-up shot for the rest of the game, when played well and accepted.
  2. Win. A long time ago, one of my business partners at Twist Image once told me that it doesn’t matter whether you win or lose every new business pitch, but rather that you keep on going. If you look, historically, at some of the greatest marketing agencies that our world has ever seen, it is not the ones that won the most pitches that have survived and thrived. It is the ones that became resilient and just kept on going (not winning over time, but winning enough to grow). Granted, this great piece of advice came from the same individual who often reminds me that they don’t get out of bed in the morning to "break even," and this is the same individual who used to have a sign up in their old office that read: "Be brilliant. Be brief. Be gone." The message is clear: we need to win more. Not that  I didn’t have enough "wins" in the past, and not that I don’t love to win, but winning more in the sense of crossing a symbolic finish line not by inching my hand across it, but with a smile and a sense of abundance. This is also about taking a moment to celebrate the good stuff too. It’s about doing enough training and practice, so that you don’t just get something done, but rather you feel like you have won at the task or effort. This notion of "win" can probably best be summed up by thinking about the title of Todd Henry‘s latest book on creativity titled, Die Empty. To me, winning will be about dying empty. Leaving it all out there and making sure that it was the best that I could do.
  3. Stop. I don’t stop often enough. To breathe. To play some electric bass. To read more. To look you in the eyes and have a meaningful conversation. To have breakfast with old friends. To go for a long and unplanned walk. To be "in the moment" instead of thinking about what’s coming next. This is a simple extension of what James Altucher would call "time traveling." It’s something we all do. And we do it often. We stress over things that happened in the past, or we worry about what could potentially go wrong in the future and all this does is cause us worry, anxiety and damage in the present. We can’t control or do anything about our past or a future that does not yet exist, so we "time travel" instead of living in the present with purpose and mindfulness. Stop. 2014 will provide many more instances for me to stop. Yes, even to stop and smell the roses.

What three words will you focus on in 2014?


  1. Hey Mitch,
    great post, got me thinking. My three words for 2014 are independent, professional and focus.
    Especially after having read Ctrl Alt Delete and the Start-Up Of You I plan on changing myself into my own start up and creating my own brand. Focus is another aspect of achieving this change in order to be more efficient in my day to day work, to get more stuff done faster. But it is also a reminder for me to live in the here and now (also in my private life) and to not go time travelling, a very bad habbit which I really need to shed!
    Have a great successful and healthy 2014!

  2. Hi Mitch
    Thanks for the post.. I did some soul searching and decided that instead of having 3 words, I will take one over-arching theme and apply it to my life.
    My theme is transformation.
    I have blogged about my goal and intend to continue to update the state of affairs on the blog.
    Thanks for the thought..

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