Happy New Year! I hope that 2019 is off to a great start for you and your organization.
I always love the feeling of the New Year – full of fresh starts and clean slates. It’s during this time that I choose three words to serve as my guiding principles for the year.
These are not resolutions but instead words to guide my actions so I can achieve my goals – both personally and professionally. In fact, I typically add these words to my bulletin board and keep it up all year to serve as a reminder.
I modeled this after Chris Brogan’s three words exercise. This is my eighth year doing this.
If you’re curious, here are my previous guiding principles:
2011: Be intentional. Be Balanced. Be myself.
2012: Be disciplined. Experiment. Find the joy.
Create space. Build systems. Focus on now.
2014: Rest Well. Lean on Others. Be generous.
2015: Be Bold. Prioritize. Celebrate.
2016: Dream. Create. Relax.
2017: Constraint. Invest. Connect.
You’ll notice that I skipped last year as I was just a couple of weeks away from the birth of my son. I wish I had done this exercise last year, but in the end, last year was all about navigating life as a new mother while running a business.
I’m back on it this year so I can refocus on building the life and business I want. To do that, I’ve chosen these three words to guide everything I do this year.
My 3 Words for 2019
Here are my three words for 2019:
Read on to see why I chose each of these words.
This morning, I pulled open a planning document from a few years ago and noticed a word jumping out at me on the screen – impact.
It’s not surprising. I’ve always cared deeply about making a positive impact in the world and for the clients we serve. That’s why our work isn’t always flashy or sexy. Instead, we strive to build and create meaningful initiatives that truly add value to our clients and the people they serve.
And this year, we are taking that one step further by focusing our efforts to work with social businesses and mission-driven organizations. We want to work with people and organizations committed to making a positive impact in the world around them.
There’s another reason why impact is one of my words this year – it serves as a good litmus test for making decisions.
Before I take action, I will ask myself these questions:
What kind of impact will this create in the world?
What impact will this create for our clients and who they serve?
What impact will this have on Blue Kite?
How will this impact my family?
How will this impact my well-being?
If I want to add value and do meaningful work, considering impact has to be at the forefront for me.
If you look at many top entrepreneurs, they will tell you that exercising and physical activity is critical for their health, happiness, and success. It’s not surprising why. Exercising helps reduce stress, increase energy and improves mental clarity.
But for the past few years, I let knee surgery and a difficult pregnancy keep me from making physical activity a priority. That stops this year.
It’s not about losing weight or getting trimmer (though, I hope those are ancillary benefits). I want to get stronger – both physically and mentally. That’s why I recently started working with a trainer to help me focus on strengthening key areas where I’m weak.
There’s another reason I chose this word for this year. I want to focus on working in my strengths-zone. To reach the goals I’ve set for myself and my business, I need to focus on my highest and best work – the things that only I can do.
As an entrepreneur, it’s easy to get pulled in a million directions or do things that are not really in your wheelhouse. While some of that comes with the territory as a business owner, my goal this year is to better leverage my strengths.
As an entrepreneur, I have a tendency to blow things up because I love building and creating new things.
However, it’s not always necessary to start over. In fact, it can be a bit detrimental. Why reinvent the wheel when something can simply be improved upon?
That’s why refine is one of my words this year.
Remember that document I mentioned earlier? There was a lot of good stuff in there. Even though it’s a few years old, the strategic approach is still right on. It just needs some improvements.
I love these definitions of the word refine:
to improve or perfect by pruning or polishing;
to make improvement by introducing subtleties or distinctions
For me, refining means pruning out the stuff that doesn’t work or doesn’t produce at the level we want. It means tightening our focus so we’re doing the work that makes the most impact.
It also means making small adjustments to find the winning recipe. We call this inch innovation when we work with our clients. We make tiny tweaks instead of large-scale changes. Small bets are more practical and easier to implement. Plus, if you’re wrong, those small bets won’t cost you as much as a risky Hail Mary approach.
There will be a lot of refining this year at Blue Kite. We’ll be honing in on what we do best and narrowing who we best serve. This kind of pruning will help our efforts be far more fruitful and help us achieve our goals.
What are your guiding principles?
What about you?
Do you select words or phrases to guide you through the year? If so, I’d love to hear yours! Share yours in the comments or link to your post where you wrote about this as well.
Here’s to great things ahead for all of us in 2019!