Ever since 2009 I have been doing a different version of New Year’s Resolutions. I got the idea from Chris Brogan. Essentially the idea is to take your goals and attitudes for the year and narrow them down to 3 words. The mission is to have most of what you do on a daily basis fall under one of the three words. Brogan takes his three words and breaks them down into more specific areas adding layers and layers of detail. He keeps this private, and I too reserve details for myself (although this year I added some context but also added a teaser). These three words give you a good idea of where I’m focusing my energy and workflow in 2012.
When I was thinking about my first thoughts of what I need to work on for the next year it was this: I need to take things to the next level. I feel like I’m good in a lot of areas. I’m well rounded in news, technology, productivity, athletics, training, etc. Even grad school (which I started this year) started well. I am happy with my work and I’m happy with my grades. But as I reflect on my areas of expertise, I know that I need to challenge myself to get to the next level. I’m a football guy. So when I thought about myself I realized the word linebacker made sense on a couple levels. First, a running back gets the ball and the offensive line does the work to open a hole. For the running back to be successful, he only needs to make the right decision and then get through the hole. This has been my life thus far – I’ve been gifted in certain areas, meaning some of the (preliminary) work has been done for me; you could say I was gifted. I’ve made my reads, I’ve gone through the holes, I’ve been successful by many standards. But there’s more to be had. The next season of my life will require me to win at the next level – the linebackers.
You see when a running back gets the next level, to the linebackers, he wins when he makes a move. Which brings me to the second point: I need to be more intentional and aggressive, I need to make more decisions in order to be successful. At this level, it becomes a one-on-one game: running back vs. linebacker. Let me give you some examples. Sometimes a running back is running “downhill” with a load of steam and he can run over the linebacker. Other times he can juke him with a fake, changing directions. Other times he can outrun the linebacker and elude him at the last moment with a stiff-arm. None of these are where I find myself. This season I’ll be using a spin move. The running back is all but fully engaged with the defender and at the last moment he spins away, leaving the linebacker empty handed (and usually completely embarrassed). This is a deeper metaphor for some other life decisions coming up, those of which I cannot
discuss yet (I apologize for the teaser, but this post is more for my reflection and documentation rather than for your learning and application). So for 2012, when I think of linebacker I think of the idea that I need to take things to the next level, continue to pursue my expertise in certain areas, be more aggressive and intentional, and then make a great move to be successful and win that one-on-one battle.
“An apple a day…” When most people think of apple, they think of the healthy fruit which none of us eat enough of. Lately apple has also quite often referred to the most valuable company on the planet. Both of these references are appropriate for my second word for 2012. This next year I need to develop the next phase of my training program and get back to some healthier habits. I only ran one half marathon last year, down from two full marathons in 2009. Apple this year will mean ramping up for more dedicated endurance training but I’m also adding a strength component to the routine this year. I’ve always been above-average strong because of my work in the tree care business. But a lot of that is job-specific and I want to change that. I’ll be honest: some of this motivation is prideful in that I want to improve how strong my upper body looks. I’ve never really dedicated myself to this type of training and this year it’s going to happen. Apple also refers to the brand, the Steve Jobs success story, which anyone close to me knows I have a great appreciation for. I’m reading Walter Isaacson’s biography on Steve Jobs right now and I cannot put it down. Apple, as an organization, is fascinating. They “wow” people. They put out products that are superior to their competition. They cost more than most. They are beautiful. They are efficient. They are well thought out. Apple is simply the best. Steve Jobs did not wake up one day and have all the answers to make the company we know as Apple. He learned though a long career of successes and failures, strengths and weaknesses how to make Apple great. Apple needed to be extremely organized. They needed to continually progress and challenge the process. They had to be innovative, and even sly as they took other people’s ideas and made them not only their own, but made them better. So in 2012, apple for me is a reminder to pursue some healthy goals and habit and also to be organizational and progressive in my work.
Ok, I’ll admit this isn’t a word. Stop, don’t even try to look it up, trust me on this one. Here’s the deal: this third word for 2012 is a reference to my essential reading list for each week and it’s also a reminder. First, the characters. These three men represent successful business men who run first class blogs and are role models to anyone who wants to be successful. Tentblogger is an amazing, well… blogger! He produces some of the greatest content on the Web for people trying to perfect their craft as writers and small business owners. He created some epic series of post last year and I count on his insights each week. He’s been a huge influence on the techniques and strategies I’m using to launch my business. Michael Hyatt writes about leadership, productivity, and publishing on his blog. And he does it as well as anyone in the country. His blog is rated #1 (by PostRank) in the area of leadership. He has (unknowingly) mentored me from afar for about two years. And Seth Godin writes like no one I’ve ever read. He is quirky, he is edgy, he’s definitive and confident. Oh, and he’s usually right. Either you love him or you don’t, I’ll let you decide. These three men have a single quality in common: they show up. Each day they put fantastic content on their blogs and challenge people like myself to keep going and work on the business, the art, the craft. TentHyattGodin is also a reminder that for me to be successful it is essential that I follow their lead, apply their writings and coaching, and continue to show up on the blog.
So there you have it. My three words for 2012: Linebacker, Apple, and TentHyattGodin. Might you consider Three Words for 2012? I’d love to hear them.