Three Words for a New Year

Do you make new year's resolutions? Or set ambitious goals at the beginning of the year?

I'm one who finds myself drawn to milestone days–the first of the year, the first of a month, a birthday, an anniversary. I use those milestone days as reminders to look back, and look forward, to take stock, re-evaluate the path I'm on, and make adjustments. In past years I've used the last week or so of the year to make lists of resolutions, some of which I've kept and others of which have faded before the calendar turned to February. The past couple of years I've found meaning in the “One Word” trend, with my words being grace one year, gratitude another.

This year I've modified that approach a bit. Inspired by some articles written by writer/thinker/business coach Chris Brogan, I've instead settled on three words that will serve as guides and touchstones for 2015. I encourage you to click on Chris's name (or here) for his post explaining the concept behind this approach. The gist of it is that the three words create focus for the goals I set, the choices I make, and the projects I undertake for this year.

Fog on the Alps

I spent much of December 2014 thinking and praying about this new year, and seeking guidance for what my three words should be.

The three words that I chose are: Connect. Build. Simplify.

Each of these words has many meanings and applications for me. Some are deeply personal and won't be shared with anybody. But as examples of how they are shaping my thinking, here are some of the ways I see these words being applied in my life in 2015:


  1. Connect with Mike – communicate better, travel together, be more intentional about making time for each other
  2. Connect with God – more time reading the Bible, praying, listening
  3. Connect with clients – better and more focused service, more thoughtfully targeted business development activities
  4. Connect with the TPW (The Productive Woman) community (listeners, prospective guests, other podcasters)
  5. Connect with friends – travel to visit? more intentional and consistent communications
  6. Connect with myself – my passions (what do I really want?), my fears (what am I really afraid of and trying to avoid facing?)
  7. Connect with the present – be in the moment more, celebrating and enjoying my life and experiences as I'm in the middle of them, instead of always looking for something different or looking to the future)
  8. Connect with family


  1. Build my faith
  2. Build my character – do the right things more consistently, exercise self-control
  3. Build my relationships
  4. Build my health
  5. Build a sustainable life (by being more realistic and disciplined in spending time and money)
  6. Build a business
  7. Build a writing career


  1. Possessions
  2. Needs
  3. Workflows
  4. Start weeding out stuff
  5. Focus on the people and things that really matter
  6. Identify what matters, and pursue that, letting everything else drop away
  7. By connecting with my true passions and fears (see above), I can quit filling up my life and mind and time with things that (inadequately) compensate for not pursuing my passions and that (ineffectively) distract from the things I'm afraid of

The lists above are not my goals. They are my thoughts on how each of the words can be applied in my life. These are the source–as I said above, the touchstones–to which I will return regularly as I formulate and evaluate my goals for this year.

I've written these words on sticky notes and put them in various places to remind me of my focus. I've written them at the top of the big year-at-a-glance calendar posted on the wall near my computer. I will be thinking about them often, journaling about them as I draw out exactly what each means for me, this year.

What about you?

Do you make new year's resolutions? Choose a word? Some other approach to starting the new year off right? If you want to, share in the comments so we can encourage each other. Or send me an email.

I look forward to hearing from you, and to sharing the adventure of life with you in 2015.

Happy new year!

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Dallas, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Podcast: The Productive Woman
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

The Productive Woman 013 – Getting Ready to Finish Well [podcast]


As we enter the last quarter of the year, it seems like a good time to pause, consider what we've accomplished so far this year, re-evaluate what we want to do in the time that's left, and set ourselves up for success in the remaining months of this year. We can do that by spending a little time walking through these simple steps:

  1. Even if you've let yourself get off track in pursuing your goals, rest assured it's not too late to make this a great year. Lots of things can be accomplished in 3 months.
  2. What have you accomplished so far this year? Give yourself credit for the things you've done, and celebrate the successes–both large and small!
  3. Re-evaluate the goals you set earlier in the year. Are they still valid? Do they still call to your heart?
  4. What's left to be done in the fourth quarter?
  5. It there are things left unfinished (or even unpursued), what's stopping you? External hindrances? Internal resistance? Structural impediments? What can be done to overcome them? Check out some great insights in Time Management from the Inside Out by Julie Morgenstern.
  6. What will you commit yourself to pursuing as the year winds down?
  7. What do you need in order to wholeheartedly pursue those things for this 3-month period?
  8. How will you celebrate your success? Plan for it now–and remember that effort is a success!
  9. Get accountable.

Your turn: When will you take a few minutes to set yourself up to end the year on a high note? What one or two goals will you commit yourself to in this next three months? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

Some great resources to look at:

Subscribe to The Productive Woman in iTunes or subscribe in Stitcher, and join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook. And don't forget to check out the other podcasts that make you think, laugh, and succeed at!

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

The Productive Woman 006 – Overcoming Obstacles to Achieving Our Goals [podcast]

_podcastTemplateEven if we go through an intentional process of setting our goals, we might face obstacles in our efforts to actually achieve them. Being prepared for those obstacles helps us overcome them. In this episode we continue our discussion of goal-setting, looking at some of the obstacles that may interfere and some of the things we can do to overcome those obstacles.

Tip of the Week: Use a timer to motivate yourself (or your kids?) to get started on a task you've been putting off, or stay focused on one task when many others fight for attention.

Tool of the Week: – a website and app (iOS and Android) to help you develop good habits that will move you toward accomplishing your goals.

Topic of the Week: Obstacles–and how to overcome them

  1. Choosing the wrong goals.
  2. Fear (of failure . . . or of success).
  3. Overcommitment.
  4. Perfectionism and unrealistic expectations.
  5. Disorganization and/or poor time management.
  6. Lack of support (or self-sabotage).
  7. Physiological issues.

Some general steps to help keep you on the right path:

  • Review your goals regularly — several times a day.
  • Schedule an appointment with yourself each week to review and re-evaluate your goals and the progress you've made — celebrate even the tiniest step in the right direction!
  • Keep yourself motivated
    • Put a note on your computer screen or bathroom mirror:

What have you done today to make your dreams come true?

    • Collect inspirational quotes – create an inspiration/motivation board on Pinterest. See some quotes I like on my Inspiration board and my Food for Thought board.
    • Find an accountability partner.

Your turn: What obstacles do you struggle with when trying to achieve your goals? Can you share a tip — something that helps you overcome one of these obstacles and make progress?

Don't forget to subscribe to The Productive Woman in iTunes or on Stitcher, and join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook.

I look forward to getting to know you!

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

The Productive Woman 005 – A Step by Step Process for Setting Goals [podcast]

Continuing our series on goal-setting, this week we talk about a step-by-step process for setting goals.


Tip of the Week:

Don't rely on your memory. Make it easy to write things down when you think of them, so you don't have to use energy or attention trying to remember or worrying about forgetting.

Tool of the Week:

Drafts for iOS. A great app that lets you quickly capture any thought or idea and either save it for later processing, or send it immediately to your calendar, task manager, or any of a dozen other places. It's for iOS only, but there are some Android-friendly alternatives to Drafts.

Topic of the Week: A process for setting goals

  1. Choose a time (or series of times) when you can spend some undisturbed time focusing on this process.
  2. Gather some materials – notebook and pen, calendar, beverage of choice, notes from your session spent identifying your key roles and relationships, your guiding principles (listen to episode 2 for more about this).
  3. Spend a few minutes praying, meditating, or whatever you do to calm, quiet, and focus your mind.
  4. Review your priorities/guiding principles–the areas you've identified as important. Look at the long-term objectives you've identified.
  5. Consider your calendar. Given your schedule, commitments, and obligations, how much time can you realistically devote to pursuing new goals?
  6. In each of your key roles/relationships, where do you want to be a year from now? Convert the general objective into a SMART goal.
  7. For each of these long-term (year) goals, brainstorm steps to get to the outcome you want.
  8. Take a break, then come back and review your list. Which goals to you have the resources (time, energy, enthusiasm, money, etc.) to pursue now?
  9. Choose no more than 3-5 goals to focus on at a time. Try for balance–don't focus on one area to the detriment of other priorities, but respect the season of life you're in.
  10. Make sure you have a meaningful why for each goal you choose: why this? and why now?
  11. Save the list of the others; you'll come back to them later.
  12. Write them down and keep them handy, so you can review them daily, refine them as you go along.

A helpful resource: The Front Nine: How to Start the Year You Want Anytime You Want, by Mike Vardy.

What about you?

Can you add to or improve the goal-setting process I've described? Share your suggestions, or your questions, in the comments.


Remember to “like” The Productive Woman on Facebook, and subscribe to The Productive Woman in iTunes or on Stitcher. And you can help others find The Productive Woman by leaving a review in iTunes.

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom
Email me

The Productive Woman 004 – Setting Goals That Matter [podcast]

_podcastTemplateFollowing up on our look at the big picture in episode 2, this week we begin a short series on goal-setting. This episode looks at what a goal is, and how it differs from a dream or an objective, and suggest some ways to set yourself up for success.

Tip of the Week: Keep a gratitude list, a list of both large and small things you are grateful for. This helps you remain grateful for your present even while you're working toward building the future you want.

Tool of the Week: Mini Habits: Smaller Habits, Bigger Results,  a great book by Stephen Guise.

Topic of the Week: Setting Goals That Matter

  • A goal is more specific and action-oriented than an objective or a dream.
  • Good goals are SMART
    • Specific
    • Measurable
    • Achievable (or Attainable)
    • Realistic
    • Time-bound
  • Be smart and strategic about setting goals
    • Focus on your highest priorities, and choose only 3 to 5 goals at a time to work on
    • Have a meaningful why for each of your goals–knowing why you're pursuing a goal will help you keep going when you get tired or distracted
    • Make sure your goals align with your values
    • A goal can't contradicts your other goals
    • Be balanced in your goal-setting – remember the roles and relationships we talked about in episode 2, and choose goals that reflect those various priority areas

In the next episode we'll talk about a step-by-step process for identifying and prioritizing goals. Send your questions, comments, and suggestions to, or leave a voice message by clicking on the pink tab at the right-hand side of the website.

Remember you can subscribe to The Productive Woman podcast in iTunes or in Stitcher. Click on the links here, or on the icon in the right-hand sideboard of the blog.

And don't forget to join the conversation at The Productive Woman on Facebook.

I look forward to hearing from you!

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Greenville, Texas
I Was Just Thinking . . .
Legal Blog: Real Estate Law Blog
Twitter: @LauraMcMom

Email me