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Three Words for 2018

For several years, Chris Brogan has been using three words to help provide focus to his year. Looking at his blog, he’s been doing this since at least 2006.

This practice has spread to others, including Mike Vardy at Productivityist, and even the Huffington Post.

A Google search for “three words for the year” returns over 1 million results.

Here are my three words to help me focus in 2018:

Music

I’ve enjoyed music for as long as I can remember. I like to listen to music, I like to play music on the piano, and I like to sing along with music.

My parents were good examples for us in this area: they sang for many years in the church choir, they sang in various small groups, and they encouraged us to listen to good music.

My parents were also strong supporters in developing our musical talents, making sure that we got to take private lessons, be part of the school choir, be part of the school band, and more. In fact, my brother and I both went on to get our college degrees in music.

But lately, I’ve found myself almost taking music for granted. In part because it’s so accessible now — I have thousands of songs available to me at any time, thanks to my iPhone, my iPad, or my MacBook.

And I can frequently use music simply as “background noise” to help me focus and tune out other distractions, especially at work.

So here are my music goals for 2018:

  • Appreciation: I want to get back to appreciating music for music’s sake, truly listening to what the composer wrote, and enjoying what the artist performed. Granted, I’ll still use music as a focus agent at work, but I also want to be sure I enjoy what I’m listening to, and what is so readily available to me.
  • Practice: Some of the musical talents that I’ve developed in earlier years have declined in recent years, because I haven’t put in the time to continue practicing as I should. That will change this year.
  • Development: I want to take on a new musical challenge this year, and I think that will come in the form of learning a new instrument. I don’t have all of the details fully worked out yet, but it’s a definite goal for me with some action steps already in place.

Reading

I’ve always enjoyed reading — especially after my parents got rid of our TV when I was five years old, and reading became a major part of our daily entertainment. (I know that’s hard for a lot of people to fathom, but we honestly look back on it as a positive thing.)

Throughout my life, I’ve continued a habit of regular reading, as I believe that “leaders are readers,” and that we need to be “lifelong learners.” I’ve even done a pretty decent job of keeping track of what I’ve read.

Here are my reading goals for 2018:

  • Selection: In the past, what I’ve read has been, for the most part, the result of a random choice or recommendation. In 2017, I started out trying Tim Challies’ reading challenge, but I soon found that his recommendation format didn’t work well for me. So over the past couple of months, I’ve been gathering a list of books recommended by people that I know and like, and I’ll be working on that list in 2018.
  • Note-Taking: One thing I’ve learned over the years is that while reading a large number of books is a good thing, it’s made even better when you take good notes while reading. Notes that you can reference at a later point; notes that you can cull for recommendations and turn into action items. I’ve actually already been taking notes on how to improve my note-taking skills, and I’ll be working on improving my notes in 2018.

Peace

The last few years have not been exactly peaceful for me. The problems started several years ago when I began battling anxiety, but I took a big step forward in 2014 when I finally admitted that I had a problem and got help. Between my family doctor, a counselor, a psychiatrist, my pastor, my wife, and some key friends, I’ve made good strides in the past few years, despite external circumstances that would have previously driven me to a panic attack.

The years 2016 and 2017 were especially tumultuous years for my family, as we experienced major changes in employment, health status, and more.

But now, I feel like we’re starting to get into a stable situation again, at least from our perspective. In these past few years, I’ve learned to trust God more fully, and to look to Him for peace, but as I enter 2018, I want to be sure that I take these lessons learned and truly make them a part of my life.

  • Peace as Fruit: As a follower of Jesus Christ, I know that true peace in my life does not come as a result of external circumstances, nor as a result of my own work, but as a result of what Christ has done for me, and as a result of what the Holy Spirit does in me. I want to let that work continue so that God can develop peace in my life and in my heart.
    • John 14:27 — “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.”
    • Romans 5:1 — Therefore, since we have been declared righteous by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.
    • Galatians 5:22-23 — But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. The law is not against such things.
    • Philippians 4:6-7 — Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
  • Peace as Work: While I let God work in my life to create peace within me, I know I am also called to live at peace with others, and to make peace whenever possible.
    • Psalm 37:37 — Watch the blameless and observe the upright, for the person of peace will have a future.
    • Psalm 119:165 — Abundant peace belongs to those who love Your instruction; nothing makes them stumble.
    • Proverbs 12:20 — Deceit is in the hearts of those who plot evil, but those who promote peace have joy.
    • Matthew 5:9 — “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God.
    • Romans 12:18 — If possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.
    • Romans 14:19 — So then, let us pursue what promotes peace and what builds up one another.
    • Hebrews 12:14 — Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness — without it no one will see the Lord.
    • James 3:17-18 — For the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, unwavering, without pretense. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who cultivate peace.
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