For the ninth time, I begin the New Year with 3 carefully chosen words meant to remind, motivate, and guide me on my road to making the New Year my best year yet. It’s the My 3 Words exercise.
My 3 words are printed at the top of my Daily Outcomes sheet (my prioritized to-do list) so I see them multiple times a day.
By being thoughtful when I identify my 3 words and reviewing them daily, I have an inescapable reminder of my key focus points for the year. These words help me stay on track, on plan, and on point.
In today’s post, I discuss how well I executed on my 3 words from 2023 and then reveal my 3 words for 2024.
Past 3 Words
Here are my 3 words and their associated blog posts from previous years.
2018: Spark, Community, Savor
2019: Practice, Voice, Test
2022: 4 Filters Exercise: Deep Learning, Content Creation, Flexibility, Look Forward To
2023: Wind, Wayfind, Sense
Review of My 3 Words for 2023
I prefaced my 3 words for 2023 by saying “They are not particularly ‘work’ related. Instead, they are more about a ‘way of being’ than a way of doing.”
My hope was to continue the feeling from a British Virgin Islands (BVI) sailing trip in December 2022 that inspired my words and go even deeper with my connection to nature in all its majesty.
We can’t see wind, but we can feel its effects. Wind was designed to be my reminder of the power of things we take for granted and to be both metaphorical and practical for me.
On the practical side, my goal was to take 4 sailing classes and become certified to skipper a catamaran in the BVI. And to do that, I have to understand wind in all its nuances.
So, I started out strong on this one. My wife and I completed the first 3 American Sailing Association accreditation classes of the 4 we planned to take in 2023.
The fourth class was a weeklong “sail and learn” on a catamaran in the San Juan Islands scheduled for October 2023. Unfortunately, 3 days before the trip was scheduled I hurt myself while working out and had to cancel the trip. Fortunately, no broken bones, but I was banged up in three places. Today, I’d say I’m 98% recovered with just a lingering sore wrist.
Outside of the sailing, I also spent intentional time feeling the wind, trying to sense its direction on my face, and learning about wind and weather as it relates to seamanship.
And while we didn’t make it back to the BVI in 2023, we do have a weeklong offshore sailing passage scheduled for February in the southern Caribbean where my wife and I will be paying crewmembers under the guidance of two professional skippers.
Overall, I’d give myself an A-. It would have been an A if I hadn’t foolishly hurt myself and missed that last training class.
As a sidenote, I bought trip insurance and was fully reimbursed for the missed class and have now rebooked this same class for June 2024. This is the second time in two years that trip insurance paid off.
I spend way too much time in front of a screen and in 2023, I wanted to partially shed my reliance on technology for daily living and become more adept at navigating through natural means. As I wrote last year, “Wayfind is my reminder to learn how to use everything around me to navigate, to set a direction, a course, and then use the clues of nature to guide me home.”
This was my weakest performance of my 3 words. Most of my wayfinding was more book education than navigating out in nature. I read about celestial navigation, charting using nautical maps, and using natural clues to find my way around, but I didn’t put this books smarts to test in nature as much as I’d hoped to.
On the positive side, between the three sailing classes and an amazing climb of Mount Olympus in Washington back in July, I was able to apply some of my wayfinding learning in actual situations.
Overall, I’d give myself a C+ here. I gained some knowledge through books, had a handful of outdoor experiences to test the book knowledge, but I did not incorporate wayfinding as part of my daily way of being. I didn’t embody the idea of wayfinding.
As I get older, I want to get better attuned to the signals my body and the natural world are sending me. Choosing sense as a word was my way to stay focused on paying attention to my internal state and everything happening around me and to deepen my ability to discern through natural means.
Over the past year, I continued to deepen my morning ritual that includes breathwork and meditation. I was more conscious of my connection to nature while out on my 75 hikes and bike rides this past year.
And I went out on a limb (for me) and participated in 3 immersive sound baths that included guided mediation, gongs, essential oils, and Tibetan singing bowls. For a guy who’s usually stuck in his head, I clearly felt the vibrations and these were electric experiences.
Overall, I feel good about this one and give myself an A.
My 3 Words for 2024
Fifteen years ago, in my second book, Avalanche: The 9 Principles for Uncovering True Wealth, I wrote, “What struck me was how climbing breaks life down to its most fundamental level–everything you need to live fits neatly in a 50-pound backpack. When you break life down to its essentials, it doesn’t weigh much.”
Over time, I’ve found it easy to lose sight of the idea that the essentials in life don’t weigh much.
In 2024, I want to lighten my load and shed more of the nonessentials in my life that prevent me from being light on my feet. This includes certain material things that no longer serve a meaningful purpose as well as any leftover mental baggage that limits me from my highest and best thinking.
As it relates to work, I plan to focus on fewer types of work and go deeper on the activities that remain.
Shed also relates to the four podcasts that I host. I’m doubling down on the advice Jack Otter, Global Head, Wealth & Asset Management Group at Barron’s shared with me when I started co-hosting the Barron’s Advisor podcast.
Jack said, “Edit ruthlessly.”
For each episode, I’m going to cut all the extraneous chatter that does not move the podcast forward in supporting the theme of that episode. Your time is valuable and I will do my best to cut every word that does not meaningfully add to the show.
With that in mind, I edited a transcript last week and cut 50% of the content before sending it to my editor who will apply the finishing touches. What was a 60-minute recording got cut to just under 30 minutes. Ouch!
What’s left after I shed, I will focus on embodying.
Embodying something is about making it tangible and real through my actions, words, and presence.
It’s about making it an integral part of who I am and how I interact with the world.
Yes, it may sound a bit flowery, but my intention is to continue to deepen my experience of life. To embrace and be with what is, to embody the idea that everything is connected and really lean into that idea.
This is essentially the next step from last year’s sense word. What I sense, I now want to embody.
I also like the idea of a dynamic tension between my two words—shed and embody.
Shed is about letting go; embody is about embracing.
Much of my life so far has been about accumulating. Whether that’s things, or experiences, or knowledge. From a systems viewpoint, it’s been about increasing my stock of things.
Now I’m moving into a stage of life where rather than focusing on increasing my stock of stuff, it’s more about allowing things to flow to me and through me.
So, embody is about striking a meaningful balance between embracing and appreciating what comes to me while not becoming so attached to it that it causes pain when it inevitably flows away from me.
Over the past 3 decades, I’ve created a massive amount of content, concepts, frameworks, and resources. Unfortunately, it’s not structured into an organized system.
This year, I want to start organizing all my content into a coherent system that makes sense and is easy to access, use, and benefit from.
I plan to approach this from two angles.
First, I’ll sort through my material and do two things, 1) determine what I can shed because it’s no longer relevant, and 2) with what’s left, determine how I want to structure and codify it in a way that makes sense.
The second angle is I’m hoping I can use AI to train it on my content and then make it easy to access by simply prompting the AI.
This is a big undertaking and likely a multi-year project given that I have a full schedule already with my coaching, podcasting, and ROL Advisor work. My goal in 2024 is “to get started on organizing…” and develop a roadmap to make it happen.
My 3 Words Tips
Here are 3 tips to consider when you complete your My 3 Words exercise.
- Choose 3 individual, actionable words.
- Make them meaningful. They could be code words that trigger a story or special feeling that is deeply personal, but not too esoteric.
- Do more than see the words each day; allocate some time every couple weeks to hold yourself accountable for following through on them. Take 10 minutes and ask yourself, “How well am I living up to my 3 words, where did I fall short, and what can I do to get back on track?”
Now it’s your turn. Take a first pass at your My 3 Words exercise for 2024 and then set it aside. Revisit the next day and see if they still feel good. You can use this list of 500 words for some ideas.
There’s no reason to keep this exercise a secret. Share it with your family, friends, and even your clients. Remember, the right word or short phrase can drastically change your life.
Tweet or “X” your 3 words with #my3words and make sure you @stevesanduski in your tweet, too.
Let’s make 2024 a great year!