In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: it goes on.
– Robert Frost
For quite some time now I have used a special technique with people to help them focus in on what they truly want in life. It starts, of course, with asking them to discover who they really are. And that begins with them giving me three adjectives that describe who they currently are. “Why three?” you ask. Well, consistently successful people have known for a long, long time of the Power of Three. Our brains are wired to readily accept and sort through things in threes. There is even a Latin phrase (omne trium perfectum) that means “everything that comes in threes is perfect.” And things that come in threes are inherently more acceptable, more substantial, and more effective. In fact, we communicate better by grouping things in threes.
By the way, I generally start with adjectives (rather than nouns or verbs) when I’m working with people because they force you to have laser-like focus. Sometimes, a noun or verb is simply too vague. Adjectives provide you with glorious perspective and most writers will tell you that the real power of their story lies in the influential adjectives. (An adjective, by the way, is a word that describes, identifies, or quantifies another word. Some examples of power adjectives are: fantastic, important, successful, excellent, and inspirational.)
So, how do you harness the Power of Three help you build a powerful 2014? We’re going to take the “three adjective” technique I mentioned and expand upon that. When we’re done, you’re going to have a knock-down vision of what 2014 must be for you. Sound good?
STEP ONE. Choose three words that describe WHAT you want 2014 to be for you. You don’t have to choose nouns, verbs, or even adjectives. And the three words don’t have to make a sentence. Just let your creativity, intuition, and reason guide the three words that you put down.
As an example, I asked a client, Kate, to give me her three words and they were: Maximize. Empower. Monetize.
If you want even more ideas, Chris Brogan has been posting something similar on his blog since 2007 (http://www.chrisbrogan.com).
STEP TWO. Choose another three words that describe HOW you want to act in 2014. As before, these can be nouns, verbs, or adjectives.
Continuing with my example, Kate chose: Powerful. Amazing. Passionate.
STEP THREE. Now you combine the two sets of words in the precise order that you just put them down. You are creating a two-word descriptor of what 2014 will be. Go ahead and tweak some of the words into nouns, verbs, or adjectives so that they work together for you. And that last hint is important. This technique is all about creating a roadmap for YOU . . . not anyone else. This doesn’t have to make sense for anyone except you.
For Kate, so far 2014 is all about: Powerful maximizing. Amazing empowerment. And passionate monetizing.
You are well on your way to creating an alchemical incantation or magic spell, so to speak, that will instantly keep you focused and serve as a reminder of what you should be doing.
And YOU’RE NOT DONE, yet . . .
STEP FOUR. Give yourself a little space and come back to the three groups of words you have created. Mark Twain once wrote, “The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug.” You want this technique to produce lightning! So come back to what you wrote and look at each word. If a word is “almost right,” get out a thesaurus and explore until you find the exact “right word.”
Kate knew almost immediately that “maximizing” was not quite accurate. She eventually settled on “Appreciate.” And she didn’t quite like “monetizing.” Some more exploration led her to “Prosperity.” Look at how much more compelling Kate’s 2014 looks now:
Powerful appreciation. Amazing empowerment. Passionate prosperity.
Kate can now instantly see HOW she is supposed to act: powerfully, amazingly, and passionately. And she also sees WHAT she should be doing: appreciating, empowering, and prospering. All of her decisions for 2014, then, can easily be made around these simple but ruling paradigms.
STEP FIVE. Take the time and write out what these three word groupings actually mean for you and the people around you. Shorthand only works when you understand what the abbreviations or symbols mean. You chose six specific words. They must mean something for and to you. Let’s get massively clear on what those meanings are.
By completing this exercise, you will easily give yourself the guidance you need to make 2014 a year you can be proud of. And you might even discover that you now have a personal mission statement that will carry you through this new year with desire, reason, and incentive.
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