Continuing with a tradition that is now several years old, in 2012 I’ll again focus on my three words. The value of mindful focus into a narrow niche has been powerful, more so than any goal setting theory I’ve tried throughout my life. Here’s why: smart goals are specific destinations, and smart goal setting requires focus to weed out attractive distractions that might detour progress.
Chris Brogan is a prominent blogger who keeps this annual tradition of selecting three words; in this post he shares the choices of others in his community who follow along. Other bloggers that I read, like Ali Edwards, are devotees of “One Little Word.” Ali explains the value this process has for bringing focus to your activities:
Most of those using the three-words concept are choosing three separate words. My three words have presented themselves to me in phrase form, which is a little different. Just as Ali described, my three words have shown up in serendipitous or even random fashion. “Drink more champagne” came about while reflecting on a happy family holiday and listening to an inspiring story of a real achiever. “Only what matters” was the realization that more meaningful things would happen if we simplified our focus, approach, and expectations.
Whether its talismans are three words or one, a phrase or separate words, smart goal setting contains a combination of setting career goals and personal goals that balance meaningful purpose with business success. My three words have become somewhat of a value statement throughout the course of the focus year. “Only what matters” became a policy to which I could point when presented with an opportunity or someone else’s expectation. To whom did this matter? How long would this matter? How much attention did this situation deserve?
Likewise, “drink more champagne” allowed us to celebrate more. Instead of saving up enjoyment and special feelings for rare occasions, we live more in the moment. One of my dear friends recently said, “Betsy is the kind of friend who reminds you to drink champagne more often.” What a compliment! Finding something to celebrate every day has led my normal optimistic nature into a different value statement altogether. I continue to work very hard, harder in many ways than I’ve ever worked, but I am enjoying life more, too, and it’s infectious!
This year’s three words presented themselves several weeks ago, about the time we sent out our November “Attitude of Gratitude” newsletter. Inspired by Joshua Becker, who delineates gratitude as a discipline, rather than an emotion, I resolved at Thanksgiving to be more fully aware of the thankfulness in my heart. In the background while I was writing and editing that newsletter, I kept hearing my three words.
In just over six months of location independence, we’ve been able to redefine success more along the lines of Thoreau‘s definition: “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.” Pete and I have created this kind of wealth by simplifying. We no longer worry about many of the things that consumed us in the past. With fewer responsibilities, come fewer distractions from the present moment. While the process of simplifying may have exacted its own price, we have gained much more clarity and purpose.
There is a Zen quality to simplification, and our personal goal setting is geared toward keeping things as simple as possible. We’re rich, in that we have fewer worries and cares. A steady flow of opportunities presents itself from which we choose from based upon our value statement of simplicity and freedom in work and life. Because we remain aware of these opportunities, we’ll continue to enrich ourselves, financially, spiritually, and intellectually.
Along with this richness, an optimistic outlook fuels our ability to look beyond to new horizons. Smart goal setting incorporates present reality, but also contains a motivational component. What would happen if we reached beyond to a new benchmark? Keeping things simple makes further progress attractive and attainable. We can literally look beyond to a new horizon and set forth.
Finally, smart goal setting establishes a benchmark from which we can gauge our progress. Typical goal setting theory identifies these benchmarks as quantifiable. In our experience, this has been true – we’ve achieved significant revenue records, we can point to a hefty increase in number of products available for sale, the client roster has increased, etc. – but, any dashboard must also address the non-quantifiable aspects of smart goal setting. There are many. From the general feeling of well-being, to accessing creative work-flow, to smooth transitioning between the various activities and demands of the day, measure takes on a layered meaning. It’s not sufficient to measure numerically, you must measure using a general awareness of overall well-being. “All’s right with the world” is something that can’t be priced.
Our life now is comprised of awareness of how we are enriched, not only by our own actions, but with our interactions with others. This sense of well-being and flow has exceeded anything we ever expected. While we are still using smart goals and objectives in our planning, we realize that measurability isn’t always quantifiable, but instead can be established within an overall happiness and contentment spectrum. Even though we’ve weathered a tempest of personal challenge, together we’ve emerged and are forging ahead. We are:
“Rich. Beyond. Measure.”