My Three Words for 2011

I’ve been taking a page from Chris Brogan’s book for the past few years, coming up with three words that are my guiding principles for the year.

I don’t make resolutions. I make changes. In other words, I don’t resolve to do things. I just make up my mind, then I do them. It’s just how I am programmed. I find that making resolutions isn’t malleable enough for me. If I say “My New Year’s resolution is to lose 40 pounds”, that’s too big a chunk. It’s too easy to talk myself out of climbing that hill. It’s too big. On the other hand, if I say “I’m going to change my behavior by eating less and exercising more”, it positions things in a more achievable light. It’s process oriented instead of results oriented, and thereby easier to work with for me.

This is where the three words fit nicely. If I am working on change, as opposed to battling some huge goal, then the three words are there to remind me why I’m making the changes. They are there for the days when I don’t feel up to it, when I a resisting the change. They get me back on track.

Last year, my three words were Stretch, Collaborate, and Less. They worked well for me. I stretched beyond my comfort zone and started doing more public speaking. I even turned pro, which is a huge stretch for me (and one I’ve realized I love and want to do more of). I got involved in some great collaborative projects, such as Thoughtwrestling and Workshifting, and they have been really fulfilling experiences. And, perhaps the biggest one for me was Less. It was definitely the hardest. I’m learning how to do more with less. Less clutter (mentally and physically). Less money spent (so I can have more to spend on what’s really important and necessary to my family’s quality of life). More delegation, so less time wasted.

But enough about last year. My three words for 2011 are Intersections, Freedom, and Curiosity.

Intersections
The thing that has fascinated me most about the social web is how people, situations, and opportunities intersect. Serendipity is alive and well in the online world, and I find that often, I don’t take advantage of it enough. But I’m not just going to find the intersections that exist. I’m going to build intersections where people, situations and opportunities can cross. I’m going to find ways to bring people to a meeting point, so new things can be created.

Freedom
My whole life, I’ve been a horrible worry wart. If there’s any one thing that has held me back, it’s been worry. In the past, it’s caused illness, stress, and the breakdowns of relationships. Right now, I am reading Dale Carnegie’s book “How to Stop Worrying and Start Living”. It’s been years since I’ve read a self-help book that has opened my eyes so much. It’s not that the book has any great new revelation in it. It was written in 1944, after all. But it’s helping me to realize that the easiest way to overcome worry is to completely free yourself from it. And that each and every one of us has the choice to either spend our lives worrying about things, or to be free from those things that keep us up at night. So for me, Freedom is about freeing myself from worry and all of the negative things worry causes.

Curiosity
I’m a curious person by nature, so one would think this is an easy principle to master. But I find that often, I am so wrapped up in my own life that I forget to be curious. I’m talking about that childlike curiosity about things. The wonder and awe and amazement about simple aspects of life. I am going to spend more time being curious about other people, mostly. I’m going to ask more questions. I’m going to be more interested in what others are saying, instead of always relating things back to myself. I’m going to work at spending more time understanding others’ motivations and desires, so I can do a better job at finding the intersections.

That’s it. My new path is laid out before me. I’m excited about all the possibility that 2011 holds.

What about you?

8 comments
Gwen Lehman
Gwen Lehman

I like your approach to resolutions. I've never heard of the 3 word approach, but it has me thinking. One of my words would have relate to stepping out of my comfort zone. I'll have to think about the others. Thanks again for sharing!

Arlene Somerton Smith
Arlene Somerton Smith

I think we were one of those serendipitous intersections last year. Grateful for it!

Jacqueline Brinsmead
Jacqueline Brinsmead

Thanks for the thought-provoking blog. It's always fascinating to learn how others motivate themselves. It has made me delve into what should be my three words for 2011. No, make that what I choose to be my three words for 2011. I am choosing Energy, Reach, and Order. Thanks for being my catalyst. Have a great 2011. Jacqueline

John Wilson
John Wilson

I've used the 3 words before to "create" a behaviour or "way of being" that I wish to have. So it's on a similar them as your year's approach, but oriented to situations or events where I want to create the "space" for things to happen, by "being" the way I wish to be. Process, rather than result-oriented -- oh yeah! The only way to go, since you can't predict the actions of others nor what will happen. But if you put yourself where (or more importantly "how") you wish to be, then you can create things. It's interesting that you are using this method for a full year -- and an interesting approach. Thanks for sharing it; and for reminding me of what I just shared with you, et al!

Marcus Sheridan
Marcus Sheridan

Wow Suze, what a treat this was! It's my first time here on your blog and I really like the way you're making personal change in 2011. You're kinda like me, I'm not too into 'resolutions' as I am into changing my habits, bit by bit, and in the moment I feel the need. I love Carnegie. He was such a man before his time. Amazing how 'truth' always rings true, no matter what century. Have a wonderful 2011. :-) Marcus Sheridan

Justin Levy
Justin Levy

I love the choice of the word "intersection" because before even reading what you wrote about it, I could tell what it meant. I couldn't agree more with "curiosity." I once heard John Mayer call Jay-Z "infinitely curious" and since then the word has always stuck with me because I think that is the primary reason why I get involved in the projects that I do: curiosity. Good luck using intersections, freedom and curiosity as your guiding pillars of 2011! My 3 for this year are: Consistency, Growth and Create. Happy New Year!

Mom
Mom

Be sure and ask your Dad how Dale Carnegie changed his life!

Sonsey
Sonsey

Well Said! And here I thought I was behind the times still doing the "three words" thing, and it turns out folks are still doing it. My 3... Create, Balance, Profit- http://sonsey.tumblr.com/ for the whole story..

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