Three Words – 2012


Maybe you’ve heard of this exercise, maybe you haven’t.  It’s something that my friend Chris Brogan started several years ago as a way of replacing New Years Resolutions with words that would serve as guideposts to the various goals that he wanted to accomplish that year.

I use them similarly, in that they serve as reminders to stay grounded in my goals.  They can serve to inspire me as well as smack me in the face when I need them to.

I have to say that I didn’t use last year’s Three Words as deliberately as I am setting out to do this year, thus one of my words speaks to that, speaks to not only the process of having and keeping goals, but the work that needs to be done to accomplish them.

One of the things that I like the most about this exercise, is that it’s not about choosing the best words or choosing something that sounds like something I want to happen in 2012.  They also aren’t goals in and of themselves.  These Three Words emerge from time spent reflecting on last year and setting clear goals (I have 100 for 2012) that I can measure and hold myself accountable to.  These Three Words serve me and my goals as both a guide and reminder of what’s important.

So, without further ado; My Three Words for 2012

Reclaim – In 2012, I will be accomplishing goals that serve to reclaim various aspects of my life.  I have several specific goals that are served by this word.  For example, I want to reclaim my physical and financial health for myself and my family and I have specific goals in each of these areas.  The word serves these goals, because it is a reminder that my health is mine to own, both financially and physically.  It is something that is directly affected by personal choices and actions I make to create that health.  The word Reclaim is also an acknowledgement that it is my fault for poor choices made in the past.

Set – Last year I read the book, “The Happiness Advantage” by Shawn Achor.  In that book he shared a story where in order to accomplish the goal of learning to play the guitar, he literally put the guitar in between the couch and the television.  This was to ensure that when he sat down after a long day, he didn’t create the excuse that his guitar was too far away to practice.  I have come to call this “Putting Success In Your Way”.

The word Set will serve as a reminder that I must continue to set up the circumstances for my success.  Again, it ties to Reclaim in that I have to own this.  Set also requires an understanding of the goal and what it will take to accomplish it.

Do – As in, DO the work.  I have some substantial goals for 2012.  This is going to be an enormous year for me as you’ll likely learn if you continue to come by here.  Everyone of my goals requires work to be done.  I cannot accomplish them without this last word.  I can’t run a 10K or more if I don’t log the miles ahead of time.  I can’t publish anything if I don’t write or more than that, do the research on what I’m writing about.  Do is a call to action that says, ‘it’s really great that you’re Reclaiming and Setting the stage and all that, but get moving and do the freaking work’

I’d love to hear what your Three Words are and don’t think it’s too late either.


  • Jim Connolly

    January 1, 2012

    An interesting and nicely balanced set of words / objectives there, Rob.

    It’s been engaging, to watch people share their 3 words today – Nice idea by Chris.

    Best for 2012, sir!

  • rob

    January 1, 2012

    Thanks, Jim. I have come to appreciate this exercise enormously. Not unlike Chris’ description of Practice, the process of discovering which 3 words will serve you best is part of the fun.
    Best to you in 2012, sir.

  • Peggy

    January 1, 2012

    I like your exercise. Funny, Jeb Bush gave this exercise to agency heads to define their mission statement. Power in brevity I guess. Working on my three. I”ll get back to you. Nice blog.

  • rob

    January 2, 2012

    Interesting, Peggy. I haven’t moved this from guideposts to personal mission statement, but that might be something to think about some day. Thanks for stopping by and commenting

  • Valerie Deveza

    January 2, 2012

    Great words Rob! My three words are plan.. clear.. test..

    Best to you in 2012! :)

  • rob

    January 2, 2012

    Valerie, thanks for sharing your post. I love reading how others approach this project and how they will be using their words. Have a great 2012.

  • Tara Jacobsen

    January 4, 2012

    Okay, this was really fun…here are my three:

    Focus, Goals and Planning (I KNOW, a theme is developing right?) I am great at implementing so that is not a word I have to focus on, now making sure I am headed in the right direction is the key…:) 90% off track is fine if you are headed in the right direction, just terrible if you are headed toward (dum, dum, dum) certain doom!

  • Rebecca

    January 4, 2012

    Really nice the way you have yours set up to back the other up. I loved reading your post. I love hearing everyone’s 3 words. Mine are Product, Redesign and Focus and you can read the descriptions of them here:

    Good luck to everyone on their individual successes in 2012, I can just feel it is going to be a successful year!

  • rob

    January 4, 2012

    @Tara I love that you know and understand that implementing is a strength of yours. Oftentimes with goals and exercises like Three Words, we forget and maybe don’t understand the role that our strengths play in the equation.

    So, how will you use your strength of Implementation to support you in your Three Words? Imagine putting the action word, Implement before each of your Three Words; Implement Focus, Implement Goals, Implement Planning. I’ve not thought of that before. Holy cow, that becomes something different.

    Thanks for sharing.

  • Love it Rob. Reclaim is POWERFUL.

    Mine are Discipline. Determination. Destiny.

    You know me a bit – so you can probably read behind all that those mean. It’s my 40th year. My 20th anniversary. And now, D3 ;) These 3 words will make for a pivotal year, I am certain.

    Thanks for sharing. You have my full support, you know that! xo C

  • rob

    January 4, 2012

    @Rebecca I love the learning that occurred for you in 2011, particularly around your third word, Focus. Realizing that saying yes, even to something that pays you, may not be the right thing both for your business and personally, is important stuff.

    I’m also a big fan of Redesign…it reminds me of Set. : )

    Thanks for coming by.

  • rob

    January 4, 2012


    You and your personal story are part of the “Reclaim” storyline for me. You’ve been a great example of that. I appreciate your support and know it is there.

    Thank you.

  • Deanna

    January 4, 2012

    Great 3 words! And I love the idea of Putting Success in My Way! My words are CONNECT. CREATE. TEACH. I chose these words as I pondered my passions and how I wasn’t using them as powerfully as I can be.

  • Joni Humphreys

    January 4, 2012

    Wow! Your 3 really spoke to me as well! RECLAIM – that is GYNORMOUS for me to accomplish!
    I have really struggled with my 3, but I think you have cleared my thinking. This is the first year I have heard about Chris’s exercise. I found your blog thru his newsletter!
    Thanks for the inspiration and thanks for a great blog! I’ll be back!

  • Travis

    January 4, 2012

    My three:


    Great article! Thanks!

  • Eric

    January 4, 2012


    Discipline – encapsulates focus and the absolute need to stay the course and get things done

    Daring – far too often I chicken out or lack the confidence to do something truly out of the box; this needs to change in 2012 to achieve many of my business and personal goals

    Relentless – get knocked down; get back up! never stop, never give up, don’t get discouraged by failure.

    - @EricGlazer

  • Elizabeth Cottrell

    January 4, 2012

    Focus — because a major demon for me is getting distracted or spread too thin.

    Connect — my actions with my intentions; Connect with others in my genre; Connect with Self, God, Nature. These essential connections are woven into every aspect of my best-lived life.

    Play — Stop being so damned serious and let things go. It gives me balance, stimulates the other side of my brain, and opens me up to more creativity.

  • rob

    January 4, 2012

    @Elizabeth I need to Play more myself. Your words feel like they will serve each other well.

  • rob

    January 4, 2012

    @Eric –

    Your comments about Daring remind me of Julien smith’s new book, “The Flinch” It was a great read that talks specifically about what you described. Oh, and it’s FREE on Amazon…so you don’t Flinch from buying it. True story. : )

  • rob

    January 4, 2012

    @Travis – Very grounding words. I’m a huge fan of simplicity.

  • rob

    January 4, 2012

    @Joni –

    Thanks for coming here and I’m glad they resonated with you. Please come back and share your Three, I learn so much from what everyone is sharing.

  • rob

    January 4, 2012

    @Deanna – Your words sound very generous. Sounds like one of your Passions is helping others. It’s amazing how personal Passion can be fed by that.

  • John Leavy

    January 4, 2012

    Rob I am so there….or should I say here? Three words have been banging around inside my head for months…when I attended a grow summit last month I added a fourth word “value.” It was interesting to see Chris Brogan’s newsletter arrive in my inbox where he talked about starting the year out with three words…Confirmation…Divine Providence…Karma…Coincidence? Who knows…my four words for this year are profit, results, order and value. I plan on incorporating these words (actions) into everything I do in business, family and life. And good luck meeting and surpassing your goals for 2012. Blessings!

  • Kjell

    January 4, 2012

    Hi Rob,

    First time here and I enjoyed reading your post and all the comments. Like others, I came because of Chris’s email today. It feels good to be a part of something like this and to share …..

    My three words are based on a theme of “Do”. I want 2012 to be a year of even more change and for the better. So I am challenging myself not to procrastinate, stay balanced and lead more.

    Fearless – anything that scares me I’ll turn and run at it head first and see if there was anything to really fear

    Invest – in myself to be a better person, in others to help them achieve what they yearn for, in my relationships by giving more than I get

    Presence – This is last year’s word (I only had one for 2011) and chose it again because it supports the other two. And I’m not there yet.

    I have to say I particularly identified with @eric word, “Relentless”. I’ll use this one to help me work on the other three.

    I look forward to reading your blog in 2012.


  • Rohana

    January 5, 2012

    Your blog is a great resource! Glad Chris sent me here. My 3 words are: renew, harmony, promote. Blessings to you in the New Year.

  • rob

    January 5, 2012

    @John – Thanks for the reminder about Family and Life in general. So often I bring my Three Words to the forefront when I am at my desk and this year they have to be everywhere, they have application across all facets.

  • rob

    January 5, 2012

    @Rohana Thank you. You are kind to say that and thanks for sharing your Three Words. All the best.

  • rob

    January 5, 2012

    @kjell I can see why @eric’s words resonated with you. I can’t underscore enough how much of a fit Julien Smith’s book, “The Flinch” is for what you are describing. Definitely check it out.

  • Casey Wheeler

    January 5, 2012


    My three are:

    Connect – establish new and reestablish past relationships in a meaningful way.

    Listen – as I connect I want to actively listen to the challenges, successes, hopes, etc. in order to better understand my connections and determine how best I can support their efforts.

    Grow- continue my own self development by putting into practice the things that I run across that I find interesting (business and personal) and not just thinking that they are interesting and doing nothing.


  • rob

    January 6, 2012

    @Casey I always appreciate the reminders and focus on Connecting and Listening. Is your business focused on supporting the efforts of others, or is that part of your nature and it adds value to your life and business in other ways? Just curious.

  • Kristy

    January 8, 2012

    I’ve been creating simple slogans each year that serve as my guide posts and reminders. The slogans sometimes start in reference to something specific but often connect in surprising and meaningful ways to events throughout the year. I’ve also found that past year’s slogans can continue to guide (I’m still following 2010′s ‘Consume the Consumables’ and using up the things I already have)

    My slogan for 2012: Bite-Size & Improvise

  • Casey Wheeler

    January 10, 2012

    @Rob It is part of my nature and I’m applying the principles to my business.

  • Maria Alexiadou

    January 25, 2012


    thank you for this great article, my problem as a multitask person is to focus
    and I really think that’s the key to everything!

    …“Putting Success In Your Way” is just what I wanted to read!

    Best to everybody for 2012!

  • learning the guitar

    December 1, 2012

    Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post.
    Many thanks for supplying this information.

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