Forget New Year’s Resolutions, Use a 3-Word Plan for 2013

Toss your new year’s resolutions. You probably won’t stick with them.

top new years resolutions

I’ve been getting lots of email newsletters with tips on how to plan for 2013. I’ve found that Chris Brogan’s 3-word annual theme is by far the best approach. It’s simple. You just have to remember 3 words. And each of the words you pick will have meaning to you.

I expanded my list of 3 words to have one set for my personal life and one set for my business. Here are my personal growth words for 2013:


My old boss used to say that gravity is the most powerful force in the universe. Over the years, everything gravitates to the storage room in the basement. My storage room has been cluttered for too long. During the holiday break, my wife and I got rid of the junk we collected. It appeared to be a daunting task when we started so we took it one section at a time, removing unwanted objects to haul off. By the end of the day – and it was a long day – our storage area was completely cleaned out. Everything was on shelves and fully organized. The best part: it decluttered our minds. I’ve got lots of other areas at my home and office that could use a clean-up so the term “declutter” to me in 2013 means to work on something every weekend until I’m satisfied. This week, the target was my email inbox, which is now fully decluttered. My goal is to be completely decluttered by March 31.


I try to exercise regularly, but sometimes I allow myself to slip on my routine. I’ll then feel guilty about it so it’s a no-win situation – I might as well just do it. Between managing work and a family life with young kids, time can easily escape. Of all of the different types of workouts I’ve done, I’ve found running makes me feel the best. It also provides me with the best return for the time invested. Every time I jog, I feel like I cleaned my body from the inside. I breathe better, have a stronger focus and bubble with creative ideas. It makes me happy and productive. Run has a dual meaning. When I set my eyes on a goal, I want to make sure I don’t put obstacles in my own path or subconsciously slow down. So, “run” in 2013 to me means two things: 1) physically run every week, 2) keep pushing myself hard until I achieve a goal I set.


I love reading. It’s the fastest way to building new skills. I read magazines and blogs all the time and pick up a lot of new ideas that help in growing my business. I find that I do most of my book reading over the summer. My weekends are slower then and I enjoy going out on my deck in warmer weather to relax with a tasty beverage and a good book. So I got to thinking: if I enjoy that feeling so much, why don’t I do more of it year-round instead of in the summer? It prompted me to put “read” to round out my top 3 words for 2013.

Here are some other words and possible meanings that you can use as you develop your own 3-word plan for 2013:

  • Start – stop just talking about starting a company, do it
  • Analyze – evaluate detailed metrics for my business so I make informed decisions
  • Content – write articles to share my knowledge with clients and have a long lasting impact that showcases my expertise
  • Publish – write a book and get it published on Kindle
  • Fund – pitch investors and get financing to grow my business
  • Mingle – join an online dating site to meet my match
  • Laugh – throw at least one party every quarter to enjoy a glass of wine with my friends
  • Hawaii – save for and plan a vacation to Hawaii
  • Participate – find out about openings on local boards or commissions in my county and apply to become a member; plan a strategy to run for a local political office

So forget your new year’s resolution. Create a theme instead. It’s only 3 words so it will be easy to remember. Paste your words on your bathroom mirror so you are reminded of your theme every morning and night. Want something a little longer? Read my big list of sample goals. You will have an amazing 2013!

How to Plan for 2012

It’s time to plan for 2012.  The slow time between Christmas and New Years often gives me an opportunity to reflect on the past year and figure out where I want to be one year from now. This goes well beyond making New Years resolutions.

Here is the process my company uses to plan 2012.  This works well for setting personal goals, too.

  1. List accomplishments and shortcomings of the past year. This provides a good baseline as we develop our 2012 plan.
  2. Review our core values.  What is important to us colors how we look at new opportunities and decide which goals to pursue. The problem never lies in having too few opportunities. It is in narrowing down the best ones. This often overlooked step causes people to pursue activities that are scattered.
  3. Create specific goals. We break this down by category like new products and features, infrastructure, marketing, sales.
  4. Prioritize goals. The outcome of this dialog is in an ordered “to do” list for next year. It is a key element of our 2012 plan.
  5. Identify who will do what and by when. You can have the best plan in the world. It only works if have accountability. Take the time to create milestones and identify everyone involved. The more detailed your 2012 plan, the better your chances of success.

No plan goes without course corrections along the way. We build in quarterly reviews into our process so we can see what is on track and what needs to be adjusted. Sometimes, we abandon activities that we were initially very excited about because we find out that they will not get us to where we want to be financially. The review process helps keep us from drifting.

Try to apply this simple 5-step process at work or in your personal life to create your plan for 2012.  The result will be a more satisfying year full of accomplishments.

For further reading, check out this free ebook: The Naked Business Plan: How to Strip Your Idea Down to the Bare Essentials