Focus, Finish, Follow-Up: My Three Words for 2016

Perhaps Pablo Picasso said it best: “What one does counts. Not what one had the intention of doing.” I would hasten to add, however, that our dreams are much more likely to happen if we set and state our intentions.

Start to FinishIt seems that clean slates, fresh starts, and big dreams are the buzz as we enter the New Year filled with hope and high expectations. I’ve set resolutions in the past – broken them quite quickly – and moved on without hesitation.

So…why am I devoting my first blog post of 2016 to something akin to publicly announcing New Year’s resolutions? It’s all Chris Brogan’s fault. Brogan has set his three words for the year each January 1 since 2006 and encourages the rest of us to join him. It’s easy enough. (Easy meaning it’s a logical approach. Choosing words that fit my life and following through are up to me.) Here’s how it works:

Pick any three words that will guide you in the choices you intend to make for 2016. They should be words that let you challenge yourself as to motives and decisions. They should be words that help you guide your actions.

This seems a much better fit for me than resolutions. Semantics? Maybe, but the way I see it, selecting three words allows for missteps, pivots, and life in general throughout the year. The three words are chosen to guide activity through the year to meet goals. I’ve set intentions for the year in a number of areas of my life. Here is how I see My Three Words moving me forward in both my personal and professional lives this year.

Focus. I never have a shortage of ideas bouncing around in my head. The issue for me is which idea(s) to take action on. Then, of course, once action has been set into motion, there are sooo many shiny objects vying for my attention. It’s easy enough to stay on task: shut down social media windows (what?!?!?), turn off that phone, avoid those pesky distractions, and identify short-term tasks to be completed in support of long-term goals.

Finish. Once I select an idea to act on, I’ll outline what the finished product will look like. No stopping mid-way through project. Eye on the prize of completion. Since I’ve identified the areas I want to concentrate on, it’s easy to say no to proposals that won’t move me forward in reaching my goals. I’m looking forward to doing the happy dance in celebration of project milestones and completion!

Follow-Up.  Input along the way can also open up a variety of possibilities that can be incorporated into a project or put on hold for a later date. When a project / idea reaches the finish phase, follow-up on opportunities that have been presented (versus those distractions that have been kicked to the curb).

Since I’m writing this post on January 4, we’re four days into 2016; and, yes, I’ve begun to put these three words into practice. I’ve identified some goals for 2016 and have accountability partners to help keep me on track. I’ve moved the needle a bit in each of these areas over these four days:

  • Shifting business to health coaching
  • Publishing my book
  • Fitness

What’s your plan for 2016? What’s moving you forward this year? It’s not too late to choose three words to help you have a happy, productive 2016. What do you say?

About Deb

Deb Nelson, principal of deb nelson consulting, is a creative storyteller. She designs and implements communication plans that leverage strategic partnerships and provide innovative solutions for her clients. You can find her on twitter at @nelliedeb.


  1. Way to go Deb! I think this is going to be a great year for you.

  2. As you already know Deb, I had already started planning for 2016 way back in early December. I usually do a The Word for the year and my word for this year is Phoenix. I love your 3 words and your post has given me much food for thought. Now to sit down and think how I can achieve my word. Happy New Year!
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  3. My 3 words are: Sensitive to Excellence. It’s a phrase that will help me slow down, be present, pay attention, check my work. I’m not striving for excellence. Big difference in my choice of words. So far it has been very useful & enlightning.

  4. I love the idea of choosing three words, Deb, and I also love how you have clarified your three for yourself. I made my deck of angel cards the other day and am going to do a process to choose (or let the angel choose me) one to accompany me through the year. A few words that have come up for me though, are clarity and enthusiasm and although I do understand that value of focusing on one thing at a time, the Multifacetist© that I am, is still challenged by that. I do have two very defined areas I am committed to for this year though….writing and helping others share their stories, plus like you, health and nutrition coaching. Seems so many people have ongoing issues with health, weight and overall wellness. An area I know all too well by virtue of my own life experiences! Wishing you great success in 2016 and look forward to seeing and hearing how your wishes for yourself unfold!

    • Clarity and enthusiasm suit you to a T, Beverley! And, yes, like you I love to have a lot of things going on at one time. By having focus as a guide this year, I’ll still have a few things that I’m working on, but need to ignore the chatter and identify and complete tasks. Love that you’re entering the health and nutrition arena. So many people need assistance meeting their goals, getting back on track, etc. Cheers to you!
      Deb Nelson recently posted..Focus, Finish, Follow-Up: My Three Words for 2016My Profile

  5. First, happy New Year, Deb!

    Wonderful post, Deb! I love the three words that you have chosen for 2016. I have been giving mine a lot of thought and haven’t come to a decision yet. One goal I have set is to work smarter.
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  6. Hi Deb 🙂
    Excellent post for the start of the new year!
    You are definately off to an awesome start!
    Thinking about my 3 words for this new year:
    Consistency, Content and Commitment
    Thanks for sharing 🙂
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  7. Deb – this a great reminder; I’ve chosen words before; thought I was only limited to one! I like Chris’ idea of 3. Focus is one I have; though I do like the 3 words I chose when I received my Master’s Degree: Aspire, Attain, Surpass – to me, the mean to Focus/Plan, Receive and Grow. I also decided that with every question of “will you join this group or do this thing?” For me to say YES, the opportunity has to provide me with something to move myself or my business forward; so I need Friendships, Connections or Clients. It’s been working well – I’ve already gotten rid of some “dead wood” that I’ve just been hanging onto for habit sake and to keep “busy” not productive.
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  8. 3 great principles to guide your life. I choose Being the best version of you, integrity amd discipline. Thank you for sharing!
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