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

Gratitude on Purpose

The last couple of years I've seen what appears (to me at least) to be a new trend of replacing new year's resolutions with a “word of the year”–a word that creates a focus for the year. I don't go out of my way to look for one, but rather suddenly in the week between Christmas and New Year's Day I felt like a word had been given to me for 2014.

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That word is gratitude. But I haven't really told anybody or talked about it. Yet in the last few days I've had more than one reminder to be grateful. At one point when I was struggling with sadness and frustration, a friend reminded me to not focus on the things I lack, but to instead be grateful for the blessings I do have. At the end of his text message he said this:

“Then, just focus on all the good you have in your life. Be grateful for all your blessings. . . . If you want more then that's ok. However, one doesn't usually get more until they accept and appreciate what they already have.”

This was a profound and much needed reminder at just that time.

Then as I was scrolling through my Twitter feed Sunday morning, I came across a tweet with this question:

“What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked God for yesterday?”

I couldn't help wondering what would be left in my life. What did I thank God for yesterday?

My inclination is to look at what's missing in my life. Not so much in terms of material things, because I'm well aware that I'm blessed. My focus tends to be on the intangibles, including what I lack in terms of character, what I need to improve in my mind and behavior, what perhaps I feel I'm missing in terms of friends and free time. I have to be reminded constantly to be thankful for what I have. To look for something to be grateful for in every circumstance and situation. I tend to see how far I have to go and forget how far I've come.

A few years ago when I was in that frame of mind a friend assigned me the “homework” of starting a list of things I'm grateful for, and look at it every day for a month. The exercise changed my attitude and my life. I still have that list. I don't look at it every day, but from time to time, especially if I'm feeling down, I pull it out, read it over, and add to it.

No matter the situation, there is always something to be grateful for. As Abraham Lincoln supposedly once said, “We can complain because rose bushes have thorns, or rejoice because thorn bushes have roses.”


This year I am on a quest to look for the roses, even when I'm feeling the thorns.

Your turn: If you woke up this morning with only what you'd thanked God for yesterday, what would you have left? Does that question change your thinking about what to thank God for today? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And if you have any secrets for remembering to be grateful no matter what, I'd sure love to hear them.

Best wishes to you in the coming year. Let's keep in touch.

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

Email me