My friend Chris Brogan, is fond of choosing three words to provide a focus for the new year. I tend to see these words as themes rather than specific goals, and I’ve spent the last few days trying to narrow down the words I would choose for 2011. Words I’ve considered include:

Synergy: The most interesting things seem to happen at the overlap point between discrete fields. For example, I think teachers can learn a lot from business and marketing. Likewise, my business colleagues can learn a lot about how to break things down into smaller tasks and how to train employees by understanding education and teaching methods better, themselves. These overlaps are chock-full of opportunity, if you can only see past the silo walls that usually exist.

Leverage: Using one series of success to help you gain success in other areas, or using one skill to benefit another area is the key to leverage. It helps you maximize the utility of your skills and resources to vault ahead and accomplish new things. It means not being afraid to use all the tools at your disposal to gain maximum success.

Closing Loops: This is not a single word, but it represents wrapping up obligations and not leaving anyone or anything dangling in the lurch. It[‘s finishing projects, completing goals, and facing the projects you’ve been procrastinating about head on. It can mean overcoming fear, or just getting something done already. But this is key to success, and it’s an important goal of mine for 2011.

Triage: Triage in the medical field is all about sorting tasks based on priority and need. Being effective means being able to sort out work and opportunities based on need, priorities and potential outcome, and even passing on opportunities you cannot use to others, so they can make the most out of them as well. Triage is sort of like a clearinghouse, and I love being able to help others by sorting through and passing on great opportunities that they can accomplish even if I can’t.

Acceleration: This one is about getting up off one’s butt and getting moving on whatever the project may be- personal fitness, personal goals, business goals- but it’s about keeping momentum going, and not coasting. It’s about active not passive participation. It’s about pushing onwards.

Mindfulness: This one is about being in the moment, and not constantly rehashing what has happened, or thinking about the future. Being present in one’s life is a very buddhist concept, and one I hope to get a better handle on this year. It’s so easy to get caught up in looking ahead that we forget where we are, or even where we’re going, let alone how we are actually going to get there.

Goals: This year, I want to reach specific goals and push through whatever is necessary to obtain them- failure is not an option kind of thinking. Goals alone doesn’t really sum it up enough though- I need a word that says Do It or Fall Off A Cliff. As Jon Stewart said in an interview with Terry Gross, “I moved to NY in order to get in trouble, because if I didn’t, I would never do the thing I needed to do to succeed.” (Or something similar to that). I always see this as purposefully painting yourself into a corner that you then need to get out of, and your creativity comes to play n getting yourself out of that intentional trouble.

Guilds: To best reach goals, sometimes we need to band together.  Each person contributes what they do best and supports the others, while still moving their own skills forward.  Together, all ships rise.  I’m a part of at least two such groups currently, and I think they’re key to helping everyone succeed.  You can’t often know or do everything yourself, but if you form a guild, you may just be unstoppable.

So, I’m interested in what you think.  What three words from the above would you choose?  Do you think others are even more important?  While narrowing the focus is important, is it necessary?  Which words would you remove from the list and why?  I’d love to hear what you think.