My 3 Words for 2020

  • Jeff Gibbard
  • 6 min read

If you’re not familiar with My Three Words yet, please read this page for more context.

It’s that time of the year again!

This year, I have some pretty big things happening.

  1. I’m expecting my first child.
  2. I’m starting a new business.
  3. …is that not enough? Are you not entertained?

I’m sure plenty of other things will crop up over the year to challenge and exhaust me, but having a newborn human and a newborn business is going to make 2020 quite an eventful year.

So, this year I need to really get dialed-in and be at my best in all areas of my life. I need to make sure I maintain my income, my marriage, my friendships, my health, and my sanity…all at once. I think I’ve found three perfect words for the occasion.

Embrace

I’m no idiot. I know that a newborn means less sleep. I know that a newborn means that my entire life is about to change. I may not know exactly how, but I know that it will.

I also know that starting a business is not the same as showing up to your first day at a new job. I’ve done this before, I remember what it took to get my agency off the ground and pay my rent. There is no paycheck coming every two weeks. There is nothing to eat unless I hunt it down.

I am in for a year that will push me to my limits.

So, this first word is an acknowledgment of the chaos that my life is about to become. It is a stand. It is a choice to boldly stare directly at the chaos and not only courageously run right into it, but to welcome it with a warm embrace.

I’m under no illusion that I will somehow avoid being frustrated, scared, and exhausted. But, I made all of the choices that led me here. So, it is up to me to choose how I respond to the challenges I can foresee and those that I cannot.

Outspoken

In 2007, I decided that I was going to be a leader in the world of Social Media. I made a commitment to learning everything I could about it. I had committed to mapping this uncharted territory and guiding companies through ethical strategies that would make the world a better place. I was optimistic about the immense potential that these new platforms offered us.

For a while, it was good.

I was a believer. I wrote blog posts, lots of them, including regular guest contributions around the web. I was very active on Social Media. I spoke at conferences. I promoted Social Media as a way to amplify your company culture, encouraged businesses to see it as the reason to embrace their employees, and espoused my belief that it was the single biggest opportunity for companies to engage their customers.

After several years of running at full speed to grow my business, I looked up to realize that what I thought Social Media would become, was the naive dream of a bright-eyed optimist.

So, I grew quiet.

I stopped posting online as much. I retreated from different platforms under the weight of their various privacy violations, unethical decisions, and amplification of toxic discourse in service of engagement and profit. The comments section became too much to deal with. Civility appeared to be gasping its last breath.

But dammit, I’m a Superhero! That means that with great power there must also come—great responsibility! I’m done being quiet.

I fight for truth, justice, and the American way (the idealized one, not the one that happens in practice). Further, I have a lot of value to offer and my keeping quiet is not serving anyone except fear.

So, in 2020 I will be more outspoken. I will stand up and speak up when I see something wrong, and I will do my best to keep civility alive as I do it. I will share what I have to offer in hopes of helping as many people as I can.

Disciplined

Every few years, I seem to refocus on something having to do with consistency. As someone who has struggled my entire life with attention issues, it’s no surprise that I keep coming back to this. I also have a habit of trying to take on too many things at once. In some cases, this is a function of constant ideation, and in other cases, it is just a fact of life that there are often more things to do than there is time to do it all.

Discipline is about making choices and sticking to them.

I’ve been “writing a book” for 4 years now. It barely even feels that long. I started in 2016, and right out of the gate, I wrote 18,000 words in one day. 4 years later, I just crossed 40,000 words. Had I been disciplined, I might’ve been published already.

In 2014, I hit 155lbs. My lowest weight since high school. I was eating the paleo diet, going to the gym, and working out at home. I tightly controlled what food entered my body. I figured out how to run more than a 5k. I lifted heavy things and then put them down. I quit smoking, cold turkey. I was committed to feeling good, and probably more importantly at the time, looking good. Now, I’m 185lbs and my doctor just told me that my cholesterol is dangerously high. Had I remained disciplined, I might not be 3 months away from a daily dose of Lipitor.

So, discipline is the word to specifically guide a few different things in my world.

1. Disciplined about my health.

I need to be more thoughtful about what I eat. I need to make sure I’m moving my body regularly. I need to be a good example for my daughter and make sure that I’m healthy enough to live a long and healthy life to see her grow up.

2. Disciplined about publishing

I used to write on my day in the life blog 1-5 times per week. I used to make videos. I used to seek out podcast guests and record interesting interviews. No matter how good or bad the final product of that activity was, I know that it helped me improve as a communicator. It helped me learn. It helped me grow. It’s about time I got back into that and it’s about time I finished this book.

3. Disciplined about my connections

My network is amazing but I haven’t done nearly enough to let them know that. I don’t reach out to people who matter to me often enough. I don’t promote the great work of my peers often enough. I don’t follow up with new people I’ve met who are really awesome. In 2020, I’m going to get better about this.

So, this is what I’m focusing on this year. If you’re reading this, I hope that you hold me accountable.

Have you started doing three words yet?

If not, why not? Are you still doing resolutions? How’s that working out for you?

Do you just need a kick in the ass? Post a comment below if you want some help.

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