My Three Words for 2021

I have kept this practice since 2013, one shared with me by Chris Brogan. The idea is to select three words to theme your New Year. The terms for me have always been personal, even though I have never failed to share them here on the first day of a new year.

For the first time, I will not go back and list all the past selections here, but you can visit my post of January 1, 2020, if you want to see the progression. The three words I chose in past years served their purpose, but 2021 feels like a beginning, a new start, and a new decade, even though the decade started last year (the 20’s).

A year is 8,760 hours. We perceive time as scarce because we overestimate what we can do in a day (and by a wide margin, deluding ourselves about what is possible in twenty-four hours). However, we underestimate–by an even wider margin–what we can accomplish in a week, a month, a quarter, a year, or especially a decade.

December 28, 2020, marked eleven years of posting here daily, and an average word count of 500 words daily is the equivalent of writing 35 books (the number of words is some number over 2,000,000). You can stack results over a year if you are intentional and do meaningful work. You might be surprised by the results you produce by doing something for an hour every day.

Here are my three words for 2021 with a short description.

  1. Deepen: The charge here is to go deeper. To read deeper. To think deeper and produce works with greater depth, work of greater import, and weight. It’s also an intention to improve by working on the internal, to be more introspective, to deepen all my practices.
  2. Polish: Polish commands that one make something smooth and shiny. It is to refine something, and by doing so, improving it. Apple is an excellent example of a company that excels at “polish,” where even the box that contains a device is beautiful, positively contributing to the experience. “Polish” also speaks to the surface of things, making it the perfect counter to deepen. Every holon has an inside and an outside.
  3. Slow: There is no mystery around this word. Productivity, a measure of work, is often confused with tasks and busywork. Real productivity is a measure of the value of the work you complete, the work’s outcome, the impact of the work, and the contribution it makes towards your goals. Going slow gets more done at a higher level of quality, increasing your effectiveness.

Here is my contribution to Chris Brogan’s exercise. Whenever you set a standard, it’s worth writing down a set of questions to test whether you are meeting it.

  • Is this work deep enough to be both meaningful and useful?
  • Is this work polished? Is it beautiful?
  • Does this work need more time?

By the time you read this post, you will have a little less than 8,760 hours in 2021. Make excellent use of them by doing good work and making this New Year your best.

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