My Three Words for 2020 and the Next Decade

The following exercise is not mine. It belongs to my friend, Chris Brogan. The idea is that you choose three words to theme your year. It’s an exercise I have found helpful for setting goals and developing plans, even if I have often found a way to retain a theme simply by changing the word (see, Margin, Focus, Essential, and Via Negativa in my list of past words below).

Here is my history of this exercise with links to the post I wrote in the year I selected them.

2013: Platform. Lean. Tribes.
2014: Pivot. Frames. Margin.
2015: Order. Depth. Lifestyle.
2016: Growth. Multiplier. Focus
2017: Integrated. Impeccable. Essential.
2018: Polaris. Via Negativa. Leverage.
2019: Velocity. Execution. Potential.

I spent a lot more time choosing my three words for 2020 than I have in past years. Instead of determining my three words for the year, I chose three words to frame my next decade, a much better—and bolder—decision when it comes to designing your life at the start of a decade. While annual goals and the plans to achieve them are critical to success, the timeframe is too short when it comes to designing and building the life you want. The start of a decade is a useful line of demarcation to make longer-term goals and plans, with the individual years as milestones.

2020: Intentional. Lines. Performance.

  1. Intentional: The word means deliberate. When you are intentional, what you do, you do on purpose—and with purpose. This is my response to “the Drift,” the idea that you are not living with intention and are instead allowing life to take you in a direction not of your choosing. Intention is—and has always been—a form of rebellion, and never so much so as now. It’s why I fell in love with rock-n-roll, an endeavor in which the player lives a life of their choosing with no concern for conventions (i.e., the Drift).
  2. Lines: A line is a long, narrow mark or band. Lines mark off edges and create barriers. There are lines that you don’t cross and others that you must cross. Some lines require you to say no, to observe the barrier the line creates. Others you disobey and ignore, exceeding the limits the line imposes (or tries to). Life is full of lines you must cross and barriers you must break through. The key to success with lines is recognizing the appropriate response, avoiding the polarity-thinking that would suggest you have no lines or that you never cross lines.
  3. Performance: I like words that cover a lot of ground, and the word “performance” is marvelous in that regard. The first definition indicates that one is performing something, like a play or a show. It also means accomplishing an action or a task. In both cases, it implies execution. I used the word “execution,” last year, but while it includes the idea that you take action on a plan, it is missing the result, the “accomplishing” part that is covered by the word “performance.” You don’t measure your execution, you measure your performance.

My intention is to use these three words to frame my next decade, choosing three words each year to modify or improve my performance, something I may have been doing unconsciously for the last seven years.

Happy New Year! And Happy New Decade!

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