Three years ago, it was a brand new year. A lot like today.
Flipping the calendar to a new year made life feel so much more wide-open than it had just a few weeks prior.
Dreams and options received new breath. Ideas that had felt impractical and unachievable now had a place at the table of “maybe we could.”
So I began to dream about all that we could do that year. All sorts of possibilities came to mind, but with it came the overwhelming question of where to begin on it all.
Slightly intimidated, I shifted gears from a big, hairy audacious dream list to the idea of selecting one word for the year.
You know, the concept where you choose one word to marinate on the whole year. It sounded super zen and ultra-spiritual. The idea left me wanting a more tangible option of marking progress and achieving something greater than having a one-word caption for the upcoming year.
Finally, I came across Donald Miller and his three things list. On his blog, he explained how he realized that he could focus in on and, therefore, achieve only three things in each year. Any more, and he would fail.
I felt like a literal light bulb clicked on over my head at that moment. Aha! Three things. Just three things? I can focus in on three things.
So over the next few weeks, I journaled about ALL THE OPTIONS of things we could do with our year as a family: homeschool, sort out my photography business, have a baby (p.s. we checked that one off already), plan to sell our house, prepare to foster or adopt. The list went on and on with both practical ideas and crazy ones.
After lots of scribbles, prayers and crossed out items, I finally settled on three things for that year. Of the three goals from that new year, I can still remember two of them.
Prepare our oldest to transition into public school from homeschool. Help our youngest daughter mature from being the baby sister to a big sister. (I think #3 had to do with my photography business. But since I haven’t taken the time to look them up, we may never know.)
One thing I do know for certain, though, is I accomplished what I set out to do that year. And that alone made it a very productive year.
If you haven’t chosen a word yet or made any goals list for this new year, then I encourage you to get started today. Because whether you have 12 months or 12 weeks left in this year, today is always a good day to get headed in the right direction.
What I liked about the three things concept is that it kept me limited and that helped me to live with greater purpose and focus than I ever had.
If something lined up with and helped me achieve one of my three goals, then I said yes. If it distracted or hindered the progress of one of my goals, then I said no.
As Donald Miller says, we have “to let go of great opportunities to take advantage of even better opportunities.”
Saying no can be hard. It can feel mean, selfish and uncaring.
But it’s not.
It’s quite freeing and opens you up to invest even more into the relationships and endeavors within your three things.
By saying no, you are giving yourself more energy, more resources and a greater passion for those things you are saying yes to. I know because I did just that for a whole year, and it was pretty darn amazing.
If you are ready to have a year where you remember your goals come December 31st AND you have made legitimate progress toward achieving them, then do these five easy steps and Achieve More in the next 365 Days:
- Grab a scratch pad (it can be digital if you prefer).
- Write down all the things you could say yes to.
- Begin crossing out the least important opportunities until you have narrowed your list to no more than five items.
- Consider carefully, then circle the three things that will have the greatest impact on your work, home, key relationships and personal self-care.
- Filter all other commitments through those three things for the next 365 days.
And in case you’re curious, here are my three things for the next 365:
- Clear the clutter. Physically from my home. Socially from my calendar.
- Change my mind. Continually re-focus my mind on the best way to interact with and utilize digital devices (i.e., my smart phone, social media platforms, Netflix) in my daily life.
- Establish holy rhythms. I function at a much higher level of productivity and motivation with my life has routine and rhythm. I want to figure out the best ones for our season of life and establish them as sacred.
While these are a little more conceptual than my first list from three years ago, I am confident that I can consistently reflect back throughout the year to see if I am growing in each of these areas or not.
Because actually accomplishing my goals IS my ultimate goal.
JOIN THE CONVERSATION
Have you made goals this year or chosen a word? If so, leave a comment below and tell me about them. I’d love to help cheer you on!
by Donald Miller (Author)
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