Chris Brogan started a tradition a number of years ago, to find three words to use to focus goals for the New Year.  Many friends have adopted this practice as well, as it’s a great exercise to find out what’s really important to you, at least at this point in time.  Last year, I set out three mission statements instead of three words, and they were:

1. I will not take on any more volunteer projects without dropping one that I already have (one for one switch)

2. I will do a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) analysis- written down and saved to Evernote- before accepting new projects.

3. I will do a list of things to be accomplished, at least once a week, and hold myself accountable for getting them done, one by one.  No more leaving things on the back burner indefinitely.

Looking back on things, I did fairly well on these goals.  I also set out to try at least one new thing a month, which included making cheese, making my own mustard and butter (yeah, it was a little like Amish Fantasy Camp around here for a bit…), trying french press coffee, yoga, ordering new things at restaurants, going new places.  Looking back on 2013, what I think I learned most is that change isn’t always comfortable, but it’s inevitable and necessary.

By experimenting, we try something outside our comfort zone and end up figuring out what we really do like, or at least appreciate things that aren’t the best a bit more in the process.   I actually had a couple of epic culinary fails this year, and while that hasn’t happened in a very long time, I learned a lot in the process.  (Let’s just say my mustard could go head to head with straight wasabi, and let’s not really discuss the multiple bean chili-soup incident ever again- that pot will never be the same.)

For this year’s three word/mission statement exercise, I’ve been mulling over choices for a few weeks.  This is what I’ve come up with:

1. Run My Own Race, or Pacing:  I can get really competitive sometimes.  But comparing myself to others and holding myself up as either more or less isn’t really all that useful.  I need to be able to set my goals and achieve them steadily, day to day, without being so worried about the competition, but instead about being consistent and persistent on my own path.

2.  Building:  It’s time to start building and sharing resources, new habits, relationships, and projects.  It’s time to get my hands dirty and make things happen.  After a year that was defined by change, including my first child going off to college, it’s now time to build more for the future.

3. Exploring: Like last year, I’d like to continue exploring new options, and adding them into the building part of my goals.  Exploring and experimenting are closely related, but I’d like the exploration to feed into building more directly.  I like the sense of fearlessness that exploration incorporates, and I want to continue to have the guts to go “all in” on projects that are worth it, even if they don’t all work out.  In the end, I can say I don’t have any regrets, because I did my best and didn’t hold back.

I think I can live with that.

What are your goals for the next year?  Whether they are words, or sentences, or even feelings, taking a moment to write them down is powerful, and helps me, at least, to be accountable.  Being accountable to yourself for your hopes and dreams is probably the most important thing of all.  Otherwise, you might just find you are selling yourself short or let yourself off the hook, and that’s  one way to make sure that you fail to move forward to where you really want to go.