Could 3 words be the difference between success and failure for you over the next 12 months?

The recent presidential election proved once again that words are powerful. The words that we use, the language that we use has the ability to move people to take action.

For several years now, I’ve taken this idea of “words are powerful’ and completed an exercise that I want to share with you. The exercise is this, “Identify 3 words that would set the course, give you direction, and totally excite you as you move through the year and look at them repeatedly for the next 12 months.”

I started doing this 3 words exercise several years ago after hearing about it from Chris Brogan.

The premise is simple. Pick 3 words that motivate you, remind you, and guide you on your road to making 2017 your best year ever.

I encourage all my coaching clients to do this same exercise as it helps them stay focused on the most important outcomes for the year.

In today’s episode, I discuss my 3 words for 2017 as well as review my 3 words for 2016 and discuss how well I executed on them.

First, let’s take a look back at my 3 words for 2016.

To continue reading the rest of this post, please register below with your email address.

My 3 Words for 2016

1. Launch

I love to create products and services that benefit financial advisors and their clients. In 2015, my two big launches were the podcast and my coaching program. In 2016, I had plans for another big launch.

Interestingly, the first two launches I worked on in 2016 never got to the launch stage.

A fair amount of work was put into them but for various reasons, neither one of them got the backing needed to take them to the marketplace.

Not to be deterred, I partnered with Mitch Anthony and we ended up doing two launches together in the second half of 2016. Both were related to Retirement Coaching and training advisors to coach their clients through the retirement transition.

And I’m happy to report that both launches with Mitch were successful and they laid the groundwork for even more programs and tools in 2017.

In terms of a letter grade, I’d give myself a B+ on how I executed on the word Launch in 2016.

It’s not an A because I wasn’t able to get the first two launches off the ground, but I am very proud of the work with Mitch and my persistence in keeping after it when my first two programs didn’t get to the starting line.

2. Leverage

I want to multiply my ability to impact a larger number of people in a meaningful way. By outsourcing more of the things somebody else can do better than me I’ll free up my time. By using technology and collaborating with other organizations, I’ll be able to reach more people in a personalized way. Combine those and I’ll get better results.

I’d give myself an A- on leverage.

I added to the team that supports my work and was able to narrow the things that I do. This allowed me to spend more of my time on the things that I am uniquely qualified to do. Is it perfect? No way.

In 2017 I will continue to build out my team so I can invest even more of my time doing the things that are my highest and best use.

3. Connect

All my work centers around making deeper connections. As a business coach, I work closely with my clients so we can build a trusting relationship that gets results. As a podcaster, my voice gets inside people’s heads so I’m connecting with them in a personal way.

Yet I want to go even deeper.

My plan in 2016 was to share more about me and my experiences—both what’s working and what’s not working. And the second part of connecting was to drill down even further to target my work so it benefits my audience even more than it does today.

I’d grade myself a B+ on connect.

I had a great year with the podcast. My guests were phenomenal, the number of listeners grew dramatically, and I was able to increase the diversity of my guests so it’s not just people from the financial services industry.

And I think we told some important stories such as one of my recent shows with Ed Rapp, a former top executive at Caterpillar. I also did a few shows that I called the Friday Podcast, which was me sharing more about my experiences and books that I’m reading and insights I’ve picked up along the way.

Of course, there’s always room to improve when it comes to connecting with people and this will remain a focus forever.

Now, let’s take a look at my 3 words for 2017.

My 3 Words for 2017

1. Discipline


That’s me and my high school nemesis Byron.

I’ve always thought of myself as a disciplined person but this year, it’s time to ramp it up and make it a specific focus. I have big plans for 2017 and they’re not going to happen unless I am disciplined in my execution.

Frankly, I’m a little pissed at myself right now.

I started Belay Advisor in August of 2012 and while the business has grown nicely, in fact, my revenue was up 38 percent in 2016, it’s not where I want it to be.

There’s no doubt I can be making a much bigger impact with my clients and reach a larger number of advisors and one of the keys to making that happen is to be more disciplined in the 24 hours of each day that I’m given.

In particular, here are a couple areas where I want to be more disciplined.

First, my morning routine. For years, I haven’t set an alarm and I get up when my body wakes up. Historically, that means I roll out of bed anywhere between 3:00am to 6:00am (yes, I go to bed early!).

As a change, I am now setting my alarm for 5:00am and I get out of bed at that time if I’m not already up. My new morning routine is as follows:

  1. Prayer and gratefulness
  2. Meditation
  3. Reading
  4. Exercise

Those four activities take 2 hours. I know that sounds like a long time but I’ve been following this schedule now for a few weeks and I love it.

Then I shower, eat breakfast, drive to work listening to a podcast, and I pull into my office by 8:30am.

Second, separating work and personal time. I know this goes against the grain of “it’s not work if you love what you do” talk that’s popular these days but I want to make the first two hours of my day energizing.

So, my solution–no checking email or the internet until I get to the office.

With my new morning routine, I’m trying to focus on personal improvement for the first two hours of the day and not let work intrude. By doing so, I hit the office refreshed and ready to dig in and get things done.

For some, the word discipline has a negative connotation to it. Meaning, discipline is something you have to force yourself to be, or it’s something that requires will power to maintain. I don’t look at it that way.

Instead, for me, I see discipline leading to rituals that I look forward to.

In the book, The Power of Full Engagement, Jim Loehr and Tony Schwartz define rituals as very precise behaviors performed at specific times that are motivated by deeply held values. And as I look at my new morning routine, all four aspects represent things that are deeply held values of mine.

  1. Prayer and gratefulness reflect my faith.
  2. Meditation reflects my desire to rise above the noise in life.
  3. Reading supports my insatiable desire to learn new things and explore my curiosity.
  4. Exercise makes me feel great.

So I view my focus on discipline as a way to help lead me toward embedding rituals more deeply into my life.

I also believe discipline leads to freedom. If I am disciplined in the activities that lead to the results I desire, then being disciplined is a necessary step on the road to financial and personal freedom.

2. Deliver

As the business world becomes more competitive and computers do more and more things that humans used to do, it’s critical that as business owners, we go above and beyond what’s expected.

There’s always somebody or some thing that can do what we do cheaper or faster. And in the work that I do, it’s all about being better.

I’m using the word deliver to signify and to emphasize that I need to continue to deliver in three ways.

  1. Deliver great value for my clients.
  2. Deliver new products and services on a regular basis that meet (check that—exceed) the needs of my clients.
  3. Deliver on timelines so I can keep up with the pace of change in the marketplace.

Last year, one of my words was launch. To some extent, the word deliver helps me continue that emphasis.

I plan on launching/delivering new products and services in 2017 that will accelerate a revolution that’s taking place in the financial advice industry.

Deliver is a powerful word and a strong reminder to stay focused on coming through—in a big way—for my clients.

3. Score

I was a competitive athlete for many years and of course, keeping score was the way to determine how well you performed. And score has two meanings. You can score, as in like making a touchdown. And you can keep score, as in tracking the results of actions. By using score as one of my 3 words for 2017, I’m focused on both definitions.

I want to score big in 2017. I want to continue the dramatic growth I had in the past year and make a much bigger impact with my clients and in the industry. I want to score by getting things done and delivering on new products and services. I want to help my clients score big and meet all of their goals.

And I also want to keep score.

For decades I’ve kept score of my personal financial situation and I’ve tracked every workout I’ve done for 40 years (not joking!). And in the business world, I’ve kept score too, but not to the extent that I’ve tracked my personal financial situation and my exercise routine.

Steve and Mitch Anthony at their annual planning session.

Steve and Mitch Anthony at their annual planning session.

This year, I have a renewed focus on keeping score in my business.

I have a detailed business plan with metrics (the same one I use with my coaching clients) and I am reviewing the plan and the metrics on a regular basis.

I have a half day blocked out on my calendar for the last Friday of every month to review my results and make any needed adjustments.

I have a full calendar with product launches and a great plan with my business partner Mitch Anthony.

So those are my 3 words for 2017. Discipline. Deliver. Score.

I am totally fired up for the year ahead and look forward to using these 3 words to keep me on track for a great year

My Challenge to You

Now I challenge you to do the same thing.

Write down your 3 words for 2017. Put it on an index card and keep it front and center on your desk for the whole year.

And add your 3 words to the comments in this blog post.

This exercise works for me and I know it can work for you too.

To continue reading the rest of this post, please register below with your email address and gain unlimited free access to all posts, podcasts, and show notes.