Three Words for 2016

Three Words to live by for 2016.

Three Words

Why three words?

Several reasons.

First, the inspiration comes from Chris Brogan who has chosen three words to live by in the year ahead for over 10 years.

Secondly, to use a different tactic for goal setting.

For more information on why three words, and how to choose them, read Chris Brogan’s post.

I have set goals all my adult life, writing them out and putting them on the wall where I can see them for most of that time. For the last 10 years, I had set and recorded 30 day, 12 month and life time goals for various areas of my life.

Two or three years ago, I realised that most of the big goals I had achieved in my life had not been written. They didn’t need to be, they were embedded in my mind, I thought about them constantly.

Running my first ultra-marathon was a good example. I wrote specific goals for running certain distances in ever decreasing times, but I just knew that I would run my first ultra before my 40th birthday. It was non-negotiable.

At the same time, I came to believe that writing too many good sounding material and achievement goals was a) a distraction and b) almost a guarantee that I would not reach them.

Most of the goal setting experts recommend writing goals as if they have already been achieved,

“I earn $1 million a year” or “I drive a Ferrari”.

I did not find this worked too well for me.

Why? Because those statements are simply not true.

Trying to convince yourself that you have already achieved a high level of income for example, when you are wondering how you will fix your car or pay the rent is to me an exercise in self-deception and futility. I wrote about it in this post.

Last year, I decided to have only one superordinate goal.

To feel good now”

No matter what is or is not happening in my life or the world around me.

I do have a few other written goals, exactly 6, on the wall in front of my desk. I also have a “wish book” where I write things I want to do, be or have. But I don’t look at that book every day. When I have done, bought or experienced an item, I cross it out and write the date it was done.

This has produced some interesting results, I have crossed off many items already, I have deleted many more after a period because they no longer seemed important.

I have not spent time each day going through a list of goals that sounded good in January, trying to fool myself into thinking I have already achieved them.

Now I focus more on activities towards goals than the goals themselves.

That’s why Three Words are important

I started using Three Words in 2015, they were Focus, Intention, Commitment.

My Three Words for 2016 are:


Deliberate as an (adjective not a verb)


Why these three words?

To discern, requires more care than merely to choose. I could choose one of several similar ideas, actions or directions.

To choose the best one, I must use discernment. That may mean at times, not choosing any of a number of alternatives, deciding to create, find or uncover a better option.

The flood of information and distractions in the digital age makes it easy to react, waste time on interesting but not important stuff.

Making my actions deliberate immunises me against those time wasters. I still spend some time on social media, reading other blogs and news letters, but as part of a deliberate process. Using time allocated for those activities, not time stolen from more important activities, writing, marketing, purposeful communication.

Unless I do – take action – nothing happens. All the desiring, wishing, thinking, planning, scheming and imagining in the world means nothing without implementation.

Being guided by those three words will keep me on track, taking the action I need to accomplish my goals and do the things in my wish book.

Have I abandoned traditional goal setting as a waste of time?

No, it is vitally important to have goals, goals that stretch us, keep us moving in the right direction.

But they must be our own goals, ones we really want, desire so strongly that we will do whatever it takes to meet them.

They must be few and really important, all the nice-to-have stuff should go on a wish list.

Some of you will find longer, more detailed lists of goals work for you, use them.

I find the simple Three Words and short list of goals works better for me now.

What’s your system?

2016 photo courtesy of Stuart Miles / 


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  4 comments for “Three Words for 2016

  1. January 12, 2016 at 6:56 pm

    Nice, Peter. I write out all of my goals and am considering adding the three words practice too… Ruminating. Happy New Year!

    • Peter
      January 15, 2016 at 8:33 am

      Thank you Cait, best wishes to you too and I will watch your blog for your 3 words.

  2. January 14, 2016 at 3:46 pm

    I enjoyed this Peter.

    • Peter
      January 15, 2016 at 8:38 am

      Thanks for the comment Tim, we have discussed this before, I definitely find long lists of goals counter productive. Simplicity, brevity and careful consideration of what is important in life seem to be the key.

      It could of course just be a sign that because of my age, I am at last growing up! That worries me a bit.

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