My three words for the new year

I have a tough time with New Year’s resolutions.  Not that I don’t have room for improvement. But before I get around to committing my good intentions to paper, I’m several days down the road with the status quo in tow.

Which likely explains why blogger and social marketing guru Chris Brogan’s three-words solution to the resolution conundrum has captured my imagination. As Brogan says: “The three words idea is built so that you can have something to reflect upon. . . something that would take more than a sentence to describe, but that when you think about it, the ideas explode out to fill your head with thoughts of how you might want to conduct yourself.”

Hmm. This may just work for me. But first there’s the challenge of honing in on the right three words, or in Brogan-speak, the “guiding pillars for what I will focus on in the coming year.”

As I’ve pondered the possibilities, a phrase from Psalms 46 has bumped around my mind.  “Be still and know that I am God.” Not exactly the highfalutin, put-yourself-out-there trio I was expecting. But it seems Someone is telling me something. So here goes.

My three words for 2012 are


Be. There’s never been a time in my adult life when I wasn’t busy, but 2011 takes the prize for over-the-top, nonstop activity. Life has become a blur, as I rush from one sphere of responsibility to another. A jam-packed schedule of doing has resulted in a be deficit in my life. It’s all good stuff — that’s the problem. If I’m to have a ghost of a chance with “be,” some worthy things will have to go.

In 2012, I want to focus more on being than on doing in all areas of my life – to ask tough questions about purpose and to sometimes say “no” even when my heart (or more often, my ego) drives me to say “yes.”

Still. When friends rhapsodize about getting away for a spiritual retreat, a leisurely weekend at the shore, or an afternoon at the library, I think, “I need to get me some of that.” Then I don’t. I’m seldom still for a moment, even though I know the non-stop activity isn’t healthy – physically, emotionally, or spiritually. All my doing not only gets in the way of being, it makes “still” a near impossibility. Looking at my already bulging 2012 calendar, this one will be tough.

In 2012, I want to bring “still” into my life — to carve out time for reflection, prayer, and listening to the Holy Spirit’s stirring in my heart.

Know. My strengths as a learner and futurist could be my biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to this third word.  I love ideas and facts and data. The more I know, the more I know I don’t know. The quest for new information drives me, invigorates me – and wears me out. It’s true that I learn a lot through what I do, but now I’m excited by what I’ll learn as I try to “be” and “still.”

In 2012, I want to be more intentional about what I cram into my mind – to become more selective in what I seek to know and how I use that knowledge.


If you like this three-words idea for framing the new year, I encourage you to choose your own. While you’re thinking, here are my three words to you. Happy.  New.  Year.

See you in 2012.


  1. Brilliant idea! My style is to see what pops out at first…write it down…and then wordsmith it later. With just two cups of morning coffee, I landed on: DREAM. DISCERN. DO. Thanks for the prompt!

    • Thanks for sharing your three words, John. I like the alliteration, and to think, it only took two cups of coffee to get you there. We can monitor our progress in sticking to the words as we work together on the Murdock Trust project. Happy New Year.

  2. Discover. Reflect. Act.

  3. Thanks, Mark, for posting your three words. Keep me posted on how it goes in 2012.

  4. my 3 worda are care, mer cy, love if I hold to those 3 words I can have a good year

  5. You’ve chosen three great words, Mom. If we all held to these three words, 2012 would be a good year all around.

  6. dorothy gish says:

    I just discovered your blog….yeah, some of us are slow-discoverers. WOW! Do I resonate with your 3 words….couldn’t have said it better nor find better ones for myself.

  7. Hi Dorothy. So glad you found your way to Generous Matters and that you think I chose three good words for the new year. I’ll be delighted for you to spread the word about Generous Matters to all your board friends.


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