My 3 Words for 2021

Thank BUDDHA that it’s 2021! Since 2006, I’ve been recommending that people choose 3 words to guide their actions and choices over the year to come. You’ve shared with me 14 years of your experiences with more to come, I want to share with you how this works because I want you to choose your own 3 words and share them around. (We use the hashtag #my3words when sharing so that others can find your examples.)

What is My 3 Words About?

The My Three Words idea is simple. Choose 3 words (not 1, not 4) that will help guide your choices and actions day to day. Think of them as lighthouses. “Should I say yes to this project?” “Well, does this align with my three words?”

How to Choose Three Words

I started this process back in 2006. Back then, my 3 words were “Ask. Do. Share.” I picked these very simple words and they served me very well. One of my best years ever. When I asked questions, I learned. When I took action based on what I learned from asking, I made more ground and took over more of the universe. When I shared what I learned with everyone, I made connections and some friends.

Choose any three words you feel will guide you forward. I can tell you a few things about this:

  • Don’t make it a phrase. “Publish the book” is a terrible choice. “The” is wasted.
  • Try to make the words actionable. “Expand” is better than “bigger.”
  • The more utilitarian the word can be, the better. These words have to be your compass.
  • Stick with the 3 words all year. Every time I’ve changed one a month or two later, the year mucks up. I can’t explain it. But I can report it.
  • Years where I’ve tried “fancy” words with layers of meaning, I lost the thread. Use plain words, maybe.
  • BUT the words don’t have to mean anything to anyone but you. Don’t worry about explaining them.

Review Them Daily

The more you review your 3 words, the better. I have mine built into my daily planning guides and action stacks. I try using them for a mantra when I can. Sometimes on walks, I just repeat them over and over. I like to reflect on them and meditate a little with those words in mind.

Past Iterations of My 3 Words

2006 – Ask. Do. Share
2007 – Seek. Frame. Build. Bridge (yes, that was 4. It also was a less successful year.)
2008 – Believe. Loops.Farm
2009 – Equip. Armies. Needles
2010 – Ecosystems. Owners. Kings
2011 – Reinvest. Package. Flow
2012 – Temple. Untangle. Practice
2013 – Walt. Ender. Monchu
2014 – Lifestyle. Monchu. Black.
2015 – Plan. Leverage. Fabric.
2016 – Home. Shine. Win.
2017 – Move.Voice.Game
2018 – Ritual. Execute. Value
2019 – Station. Stacks. Movement.
2020 – Push. Structurequence. Package

And My 3 Words for 2021 Are:

Showrunner – Not only do I mean this literally. I’m running The Backpack Show and at least three other shows in 2021, I’m using the concept of a showrunner to explain how businesses need to think about their brand strategically in all their communications, marketing, and interactions. It’s a big word for me in 2021, so I’m not worried that I’ll falter on it.

Monk – 2020 gave us the gift of a lot less noise. We thus could see where our lives were still a bit too messy. I plan to operate far more intentionally and simply in several areas of my life. For instance, I’ll get rid of my car entirely (Lyft’s fine for how rarely I need an actual ride). I’ll pare my wardrobe down to 6 of everything and just do a load of laundry on day 6. I’ll eat simply. I’ll meditate and journal (I started 12.9.20 and going strong so far.)

Options – Somewhere near the end of 2020, I reflected that “leadership is option management.” If your team has too many options, they lose focus and flounder. If they feel stuck (lack of options), they feel pressure and anxiety. I survived 2020 because of always seeking the option. Looking for a next move. Those next moves kept me housed and fed in 2020. I’ll do even better with my options in 2021.

Your Turn

Share your #my3words ideas on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, wherever. Spread them far and wide. This gets SO much more fun when I get to see your words and hear their meanings, and understand how you plan to make your 2021 amazing. Remember to use the hashtag so that all of us can find it. Okay?

One last thing. If you liked this post, please consider getting my newsletter. It’s the best work I do every week, and it’s FREE! !

Leave a Reply