My 3 Words for 2013

Inspired by blogger Chris Brogan, my wife and I select three words to live by for each year. Here are mine for 2013.

(In case you hadn’t guessed already, that’s my cat, reluctantly allowing us to indulge in some holiday dress-up!)

First of all, let’s get this out of the way. Happy New Year! I hope you and yours had a most excellent time over the holidays. I happen to have a birthday that falls on the second day after Christmas, and my wife Rosemary’s is earlier in December, so basically I felt like we were just having one party after another for a couple of weeks. Whew!

Now, like so many people, I’m recovering from a head cold and trying to get back on track with my routine and the tasks at hand. I’m actually running an experiement with my schedule for the new year, but I’ll blog about that at a later date.

Today I want to share with you briefly what my “3 words” are for 2013. Blogger Chris Brogan has been doing this for several years, and I just started last year, and I can tell you it made a profound impact on my creativity and productivity. Here’s how Chris explains it and what his 3 words are for 2013.

My 3 words for 2013 are:

Value, Amplification, Creativity

Before I go on to explain further, time for a scorecard. Last year’s 3 words were: Storytell, Innovate, Prosper. How did I do? Well I definitely believe my ability to craft a compelling story (and I mean this in a branding/marketing sense, not a fiction sense) greatly improved, and in addition, the launch of my web publishing platform Mariposta enabled others to tell their stories. What about innovation? Again, I feel that goal was achieved in the work I did on Mariposta as well as a couple of other exciting projects I was fortunate to work on. Did I prosper? Hmm…the first part of the year was rather shaky, but as 2012 progressed our fortunes improved. I wouldn’t say we’re entirely out of the woods yet in terms of our household cash flow, but it’s an obvious improvement over 2011 and trends look promising. :)

So, here we are at 2013. What are my 3 words all about? I’ll break it down for you:

  • Value. I really want to maximize the value I bring to the table, whether it’s in regards to my business, personal, or spiritual relationships. I feel like I’ve done a ton of work over the last few years but the impact that work has generated has in many cases been minimal. Now I wouldn’t go so far as to say that’s entirely my fault, but I certainly believe I can do a better job of focusing on work that is truly valuable to others, as well as communicating the value I can bring so that I invite projects or situations where who I am and what I do is seen as valuable. Am I worried this goal will cause me to have an inflated ego and an overconfident sense of self? Frankly, I’m more worried I’ve shortchanged myself over the past couple of years. The key to remember is this: the value I’m talking about isn’t the value I’m getting from others, but the value I’m bringing to others. That’s the difference.
  • Amplification. If I could draw you a box with a vertical arrow pointing up and a horizontal arrow pointing in both directions, the vertical arrow would represent value and the horizontal arrow would represent amplification. In other words, I not only want to maximize the value I bring to others in 2013, but I also want to amplify my reach. What this means is, I will constantly be trying to determine if the value I’m generating is reaching as many people as possible. To riff off an old Chinese proverb, you can give a man a fish or teach a man to fish. But what if you could teach many men to fish at the same time? Now instead of only one person not going hungry, you have dozens, hundreds, perhaps thousands of people not going hungry. That’s amplification. This blog is an excellent example of how that works. Instead of writing this in a letter sent to only one individual, I’m broadcasting it to the world at large.
  • Creativity. It may seem odd that after a year in which innovation was a primary goal, I’m longing for more creativity in my life. Why do I want to focus now on “creativity” and how is that different from innovation? I would spell it out like this: I had very little margin last year. I spent almost all of my free time (and some of my not-free-time!!!) working on Mariposta, and my main job demands were pretty strenuous at times. While I was accomplishing good work and both the frequency and quality of my output I think were fairly high, it felt very “samey” after a while. I spent a lot of time in the same codebase, with the same files open, and on the same project, day in and day out. I had almost no time to work on music, my life’s love, or photography, a hobby that’s important to me. I only started writing/blogging again in earnest towards the end of last year. In short, I did a lot of work in 2012 but I’m not sure I made a lot of art. I want to make much more art this year, and to enjoy flexibility to broaden my horizons and try out new ideas and new expressions. Not only is this a personal growth goal, but I believe it will ultimately improve my career and my relationships with others as well.

So there you have it. My 3 words for 2013. What are yours? I’d love to hear from you. And, once again, Happy New Year!

Jared White