If you are a resolution-maker and goal-setter, you might be terrified of coming up with just three scant words to build your New Year’s vision.  I know I was – how could three simple words sum up a year of great intentions?!

However, after reading social media advisor Chris Brogan’s post Wiring Yourself for Success,  I’ve been inspired to play the game of choosing just three words to guide my actions, frame my thinking and measure my results for 2010. It’s a scary exercise for someone used to writing many words and describing things in greater detail – but here we go.

First, a clarification on Brogan’s process, which he began in 2006. The selection of three guiding words for the year is different from setting resolutions and goals since those two things have end points – meaning once you accomplish them, then what? You have to continually come up with more, better, etc. The use of three big-picture words as a compass point allows there to be constant growth, improvisation, interpretation, adjustment, etc. – similar to Keith Ferrazzi’s concept of performance goals vs. learning goals in his best-seller “Who’s Got Your Back?”

Here’s an example Ferrazzi gives:  You want to lose 10 pounds.  That’s a performance goal – you either hit the mark or you don’t.  Which means if you lose 9 pounds, you potentially could feel that you “failed” and fell short of your goal?  (this is why many people fail on diets!) The other side of the coin would be to set a learning goal of taking classes to cook healthier meals.  This has a long-term effect that will likely allow you to achieve your performance goal, but even if you don’t hit the 10 pound loss, you still have gained a valuable skill in your life with long-lasting health benefits. So, we want learning goals, yes?

Without further ado, my words for 2010 – Balance, Improvement, Perspective.

Balance – this is an concept I think about a lot, and continually strive to achieve. Am I playing more than working? Am I eating enough of the right kinds of food? Does my client load make sense and support my overall company goals? Do I spend too much time watching reality TV?

By choosing balance as a compass point for the year, I can measure virtually any idea/option/choice against its alternative.  The cool thing is, the definition of balance will be different on any given day (depending on the circumstances), which will allow me to live more “in the moment”, a concept previously not well-known to me! This will be a big change, for sure.

Improvement – isn’t this something we all hope for, in most areas of life? And therefore it makes a great barometer; instead of setting unreachable numerical goals, there can be satisfaction by at least being “better” than yesterday, or last time we tried. It seems many resolutions are blown the first time you do (or don’t do) something, so there’s no way to really satisfy the intention.  But if there was a continual raising of the bar over time, isn’t that a better measure?

Obviously, change doesn’t just happen.  It’s a process, slow but steady. In the book “Good to Great”, Jim Collins talks about successful businesses and how continual 1% improvement has such a significant cumulative effect.  For example, If you could improve a behavior or accomplishment by 1% per day (a small feat, right?), you’d be 50% better in about 7 weeks.  It’s hard to be motivated to go from selling 100 widgets a day to 150 per day, overnight. However, continual incremental improvement makes the goal possible, and worth working towards.

Perspective – whoa, this is a big one for me…and maybe for you too. As the saying goes, everyone just wants to know the WIIFM – What’s In It For Me! We all have our unique perspectives of life and what transpires, and it’s often so hard to put yourself in another shoes and wonder how it is for them. Or is that just me? Also, keeping perspective as an over-arching theme this year will help minimize the “woe is me” attitude or “life isn’t fair” feelings from creeping in. 

As author and marketing whiz Seth Godin noted in a recent blog The problem, of course, is that people don’t always think like you…If they only thought like you, of course, and knew what you know, then there wouldn’t be a problem.”  Isn’t that the truth?! I often find myself feeling overwhelmed by some minor detail or small thing that isn’t going the way “I” thought it should, or someone who doesn’t agree with me, so a little perspective should do wonders for my actions this year. I can’t wait to see what life looks like through someone else’s glasses!

So there you have it – 2010 is all about B.I.P.  Balance. Improvement. Perspective. I’d love to know what your three words are, if you’d care to share in the comments. This is going to be a fun ride – hang on!