Thursday, January 1, 2015

Beyond a New Year's Resolution: My 3 Words for 2015

Each year, people make New Year's Resolutions and list goals and dreams for the year, and every year they are broken or not met. When planning for a new year, we list dreams, visions, goals, plans, and methods, but something that is not listed is motivation. When days get long and stressful, what will keep us moving in the direction of meeting our goals?

For me, it's the Three Words I select at the beginning of the year to set my intentions, drive my actions, and align my purpose. Choosing three words is something Chris Brogan has been doing since 2006 (You can read his 3 Words for 2015 here). He sums it this way: 

“The three words are a shorthand representation of your bigger story. It’s kind of like how an icon isn’t the software program. It’s just a way for you to mentally access all the work you’re doing.”

While I had been a fan of Chris for a while, last year was the first year I participated and publicly shared my three words for the 2014. My 3 words for 2014 were Discipline, Intentional, and Balance. Last year was an incredible year, and I believe it has to do with using the three words as guideposts throughout the decisions and actions I made throughout the year.

To decide on the three words for the year, I write down words as I reflect on the year and dream for the future. There's no limit to the number of words I write, then I narrow my focus to choose three that I feel will help me to achieve my goals for the year and have a happy and rewarding year. Publicly sharing the words keeps me accountable, energized, and on track throughout the year.

The first word I chose for the new year is Rhythm. Rhythm is defined as "movement marked by the regulated succession of strong and weak elements, or of opposite or different conditions." (source) 

As someone who likes to be strong, the definition of rhythm seems like a contradiction of what I want to achieve in 2015. What I have slowly realized is a lesson I already had learned as an athlete and coach. As a pitcher, I had to get in a "rhythm" in order to perform my best. I couldn't muscle my way through a practice or game or force the outcome. Sometimes I had to give in to a weakness in order to gain a strength, and it was something I got better at recognizing the longer I pitched and coached.

Life is like that, too... it has it's rhythms, ebbs and flows. With one daughter headed to college next fall, another daughter who will start driving in a few weeks, a husband who is working on starting his own business, and me wanting to get published in 2015, there will definitely be some ebbs and flows during the year. This is where I will rely on experience (mine and others) to help me get the feel of the rhythm of life.

Educators must be brave. I fully believe this. We have a hard, rewarding, crazy, demanding, magical, inspiring, draining job that we do every day. I want to be braver in what I do. I have always lived with the motto, "If you're going to do something, do it right," which has also stopped me from taking some risks that I could/should take for fear of it not being right. (Oddly enough, there are things I've tried and didn't worry about the outcome... I just want to be more consistent with my bravery!) We all have fears. I just want to be able to look mine in the eyes and face them! 

If you know me well, you know that I believe in healthy lifestyle choices - food, exercise, rest, and positive thinking. To be physically fit, one must exercise regularly, pay attention to their bodies and minds, make healthy food choices, and make time to be physically fit. Fitness, my word for 2015, doesn't just mean physical fitness, it means fitness in other areas, too - including financial, spiritual, mental, and relational. I want to pay attention to those areas, develop them fully, make healthy choices, and exercise them daily.

What are your three words for the new year?


  1. Jennifer, I was happy to come across your post this morning! As a newly connected educator last year, I still remember reading your 2014 post, feeling inspired by your transparency...and terrified at the thought of making this commitment, myself. What a difference a year makes! Since your post last year, I've been contemplating my one word for 2015. And I'm looking forward to sharing it...soon.

    Thanks for always leading the way so bravely - your words and actions make a difference!


  2. Great post Jennifer! I enjoyed reading about your 3 words for 2015 and truly relate to fitness. I like how you state that it "doesn't just mean physical fitness, it means fitness in other areas, too - including financial, spiritual, mental, and relational." I am still working on my 3 words and will use your post for inspiration. Thank you and Happy New Year!