I’m trying something new in my planning process for 2015 and I thought I’d share it with you. For years now, I have always taken some time at the beginning of the year to put some goals in place.  Some of my goals have been very actionable, some were rather vague and some were ridiculous leaps of faith.

Sound familiar?

This year, I’m trying an exercise I learned from Chris Brogan that takes a slightly different approach.  Instead of just writing goals, I’m putting a framework in place that addresses the bigger picture beyond my goals.  Chris started the My Three Words exercise in 2006, understanding that resolutions just don’t work. He also knew that goals, while important, don’t represent the essence of what you’re trying to accomplish (check out Chris’s My Three Words For 2015 blog here).

The thought behind this exercise is that rather than making resolutions you won’t keep or goals that are vague, you should instead choose three words that will serve as guideposts for the year ahead. The words should bring you back into focus when your mind and actions become distracted from your goals. They should keep your daily activities on point with the big picture you’re working toward.

Think about it with this framework in mind:

  • Big Picture – the mission behind your life; the essence of what God created you to accomplish.
  • 3 Words – the shorthand that represents your big picture.
  • Vision – the big picture told by your goals.
  • Strategies – the plans and ideas that get you there.
  • Tactics – the daily actions you must take to make your goals reality. Tactics are found in your daily calendar.

Think of how you want to be successful this year. What does that mean to you? Your goals are important, but they cannot fully represent what you are trying to accomplish. You need to take things a step further.

So step back and look at the bigger picture. How do your plans fit into the bigger plan that God has for your life? As you consider the bigger picture, think about a word that can hang over those thoughts, becoming the compass that guides you forward in your goals for this year. The words you choose should have depth.  They should be words that you can own.

Choosing Your Three Words:

To do this exercise, Chris gives just a few rules:

  1. No phrases – You can say “connect with others” or you can just say “connect” and have the same understanding. Also, using the one word opens the door to meanings that go way beyond your original intentions. Take the word connect – it could be about your marriage, your kids, new partnerships, or keeping your eyes open to connect the dots in situations of uncertainty. Thinking about one word in a multiple ways opens up your creative flow.
  2. No ambiguous words – Vague words will never serve as a guide.
  3. No negatives –  Don’t use words like “fat.”  Remember, the words are a covering for the mindset and actions you will be a part of this year. “Fat” might stick in your head as a reminder, but it does nothing to elevate your mindset. Negative words become labels that lead to defeat. Instead, choose a word like “fit” that describes where you’re headed.

 My Three Words For 2015:

CENTER – This word reminds me that when the whirlwinds of 2015 come, I need to stay centered in God. I want to live, think and act from the place of peace, no matter what is happening around me. I need to trust that God knows what He is doing and that He will guide me through every place of fear and uncertainty. Center also reminds me to keep my eyes on the target. I will avoid distractions, and aim for the kill when it comes to eradicating things like fear and complacency.

CONNECT – Connect is also multifaceted. To get where I want to go in 2015, I need more than just me. This year is about connecting to the right people, building a team that matches the vision. It’s also about helping others better connect to their own personal journeys in ways they couldn’t on their own. Connect also speaks to my inner core of relationships. Am I connected the way I need to be to God, to my family, to my closest friends? What am I doing to keep communication lines open, to build trust and nurture the things that are most important?

WIND – Wind is a dominant prophetic word for 2015. I chose this word, not to remind myself that winds are coming, but to remind myself that this is my year to be the wind that God uses. I believe that this year has the potential to be one of radical change. I want to be a force that creates that change. I need to let my voice be heard. I need to be fearless.  When winds come at me, instead of buckling, I’ll blow back.  I need to change atmospheres. This is a year to speak in places I’ve never spoken, to new audiences and in new ways.

How about you? What are your three words?

I hope you join me on this exercise. Once you have your words, write them down and put them in a place where you’re constantly reminded of them.  Share them with your community. Write about them. Tweet them. Let others know where you’re headed.  I’d love to hear the words you choose to guide this year. Just hit reply or add a comment below.

Here’s to a great year!