My Three Words for 2021

Every year, I pick three words to give me some guideposts for the upcoming 365 days. I stole the practice from Chris Brogan (the first person I saw use it) and Anthony Iannarino (whose 3 words practice is always so creative).

My words: Clarity, Focus, Courage

A story from while I was writing this little post…

I was watching a football game and after writing the first paragraph above, I got up and went to the fridge to grab an orange.

Then I came back to the couch, wrote out the three words and got up to make a cup of coffee.

I’m finally back on the couch and am committed to finishing this little article before I get back up again.

What I need to do so is focus (sit here until it’s done and don’t pick up my phone at all), clarity (some clear idea about the purpose for writing), and courage (to take what’s in my head, type it out, and hit publish).

I didn’t need the orange. I didn’t need the coffee. I just needed some clarity, some focus, and some courage.

To Break It Down Further

These three words make up what is required to get most important things done.


I chose this word because in a world of competing priorities and projects, confusion and overwhelm can deter progress.

Clarity cuts through overwhelm and confusion. The practice of gaining clarity works from the smallest tasks (deciding about what I wanted to write about today) to larger goals (making decisions on careers, parenting, financial future, or health initiatives).

The first step with anything is making a clear decision of what you actually want to do.


Focus has never been so necessary as it is right now. From our own tendency to distract ourselves (see also how I just had to have an orange and a cup of coffee before writing) to the fact that nearly every piece of technology feeds off our willingness to stop what we’re doing and respond to a notification, distraction is enemy number one.

After you get clarity on what you need to do, you need enough focus to see the task to completion.
Again, this can be something as simple as writing a short piece for a blog or focus can be important on a larger level – maintaining focus on a certain relationship that needs to be nurtured.

Focus is required for a 5 minute task or a lifelong mission.


Finally, without courage, all the focus and clarity in the world is useless.

For smaller tasks, sure – clarity and focus are all you need. But when higher stakes are involved, courage is the final piece of the puzzle.

Courage is needed to have difficult conversations. It takes courage to embark on any effort to change your health, finances, or relationships. Courage is required for making any kind of art or starting any kind of business or making a stand on something that those around you might not agree with.

Courage allows you to sign on the figurative dotted line even if you’re scared. As you know, having courage doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. It just means you’ll do the thing anyway.

Why I Picked These Words

I picked them for the same reason I normally pick words: I sense that I need to work on all three for this upcoming year. I know that clarity, focus, and courage will be required of me this year in order for me to knock out my goals and make headway in areas of my life that I’d like to work on.

These three words represent the raw material that will allow me to be successful. That’s why I picked them.

If you had to pick a word or two or three, what would they be?


A few resources worth looking into at the beginning of the year:

Free to Focus – Michael Hyatt
Atomic Habits – James Clear
Boundaries – Cloud and Townsend
Total Money Makeover – Dave Ramsey

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