My three words for 2019

The annual tradition of setting out my three words for the next twelve months seems to come around more quickly every year! Inspired by Chris Brogan, this is something I’ve practiced every year since 2011. I’ve found that it helps me to articulate my thoughts and ambitions for the year in a narrow, focused way.

Before I outline my three words for 2019, here is my assessment of my three words from 2018:

Belong

At the start of 2018 I found myself looking for new opportunities, which meant I never got the chance to continue building a presence within my previous role.

It was certainly a rocky start to the year, however 2019 offers a fresh new start and new opportunities to find my place and belong somewhere that aligns with my goals and ambitions.

Opinion

I believe opinion flows from confidence and I’ve found that to be an on-going challenge. I have no doubt that I know my stuff, but it can be a difficult to express my thoughts and opinions confidently when countered with an assertive, counter view (whether this is based on evidence or not).

Nevertheless, I found that by recognising this trait I was more conscious of when I was not articulating a point of view in a clear, confident way, and was able to make corrections along the way. Sometimes this worked, sometimes it didn’t, but overall I felt I did make some progress last year.

Hypothesis

The one area I was able to tackle with confidence in 2018 was testing my assumptions and broadening my mind. Whether marketing, politics, sport or business, I constantly tried to avoid getting caught in an echo chamber and questioned conventional wisdom.

A read and listened to new books that challenged my current way of thinking on politics and sociology, tried to argue for ‘the other side’ when discussing politics and the dreaded Brexit and learnt read stories about inspirational people and events (Richard Reed’s “If I could Tell You Just One Thing…” and Dave Trott’s “1+1 = 3” were particular favourites that really made me think).

I find it useful looking back at my previous three words and 2018 will be no exception. But with another big year ahead, here are my three words for 2019:

Adapt

Once again I’m starting a year looking for new opportunities. I had already considered this word but ‘adapt’ feels more appropriate than ever as I think about the type of work that really resonates with me. I need to adapt to my changing situation and be prepared to be flexible and take on different types of roles that I may not have considered previously. That might be freelancing, job sharing or even a career change.

Change is constant so I must also adapt in my personal life, too. I have a young family and the children keep me on my toes! Routine is important but they grow up so quickly and it often feels as though my wife and I are having to adapt to something different every week, if not every day!

Perspective

Whilst work is important and means a lot to me not only in terms of money but also my identity, I need to get better at putting things into perspective. When I really think about it I’m not driven by status and being the most important person in the room. I’m motivated by doing great work as part of a team and knowing that we’ve pulled together to produce something that makes everyone happier.

I’m going to take a step back in 2019 and make sure that the choices I make match my motivations:

  • Building my skills and expertise
  • Working with knowledgable, interesting people
  • Spending quality time with my family

Simplify

I have always had a habit of over-thinking even the most basic of tasks. Whether it’s following recipe, decorating the house or responding to a marketing brief, I always question myself and let a million thoughts run through my head.

I love reading about successful business ventures, watching blockbuster movies and listening to great music. Although not always the case, I’ve found that some of the best work is also the simplest. George Ezra’s “Shotgun” was one of the biggest songs of 2018 but uses only four chords. Christopher Nolan’s films, including Inception and Dunkirk, are often seen as complex but driven by a simple story structure that the director sets out from the start.

In 2019 I want to ensure I take a moment to breath and reflect when faced with a difficult project. My goal will be to break things down to their core components to simply the task and tackle it with confidence.