My 3 Words for 2021 – Room, Render, Rally

I ended 2020 looking back. I am starting 2021 looking up.

I’ve been doing my 3 words since 2011 thanks to Chris Brogan for introducing me to the idea. As Chris describes the concept in his post:

The My Three Words idea is simple. Choose 3 words (not 1, not 4) that will help guide your choices and actions day to day. Think of them as lighthouses. “Should I say yes to this project?” “Well, does this align with my three words?”

Chris Brogan

In 2011, my first 3 words were Create, Move, Matter. I was turning forty that year and it was time to set a plan, make sh&t happen and find my passion. In 2020 my 3 words were Build, Brand, Balance. 2020 was all about seeing things through by staying true to myself and my team and our convictions and finding an actual work life balance, so I can be the best dad, husband and friend I could be. I had a daughter entering her last year of college another leaving home and starting college. We were becoming empty nesters, so balance felt right. The only problem – I never found it. Despite a global pandemic and working from home full time – physically being closer to my family, like many of you, I worked longer hours, nights, weekends. Maybe work was an escape. Maybe a coping mechanism for dealing with uncertainty. The uncertainty of the pandemic. The uncertainty of my daughters’ high school graduation, college experience, career opportunities. Who knows. All I know is that I failed to find balance. I failed to use my third and arguably most important word – balance – as a lighthouse.

Well, no change, no change. That’s one thing I love about starting a new year – it’s not really starting over, but it is an opportunity to reflect and hit reset on things that matter most – to establish new lighthouses and start fresh. That said, after some serious full focus planner reflection on 2020 and looking ahead to 2021 with all the optimism in the world and a ton of momentum – I landed on my 3 words:

  • Room: Room replaces balance and rises to the top of my 3 words. I’ve been doing a ton of reading on productivity and leadership. I recently riffed on a 2021 goal to take my time back and it dawned on me. Balance is not something you find. Who is this day and age can find time? It’s not about finding time to find balance, it’s about consciously, purposefully and deliberately making room. It’s about taking the time to make time matter. It’s about ruthless prioritization and making the room for what’s most important in life and work. Make the room and I’ll create the life work balance I’ve been searching for.

  • Render: Render is my output or outcomes word for 2021. It’s to “provide or give” and to “cause to be or become; aka make.” It spans everything from reading more books to writing more content to finishing home projects my wife and I have put off. Render is helping my girls explore and discover their passions – to render whomever, whatever, wherever they want to be and go. It’s about doing the same for my team and teammates at work and my community. Gone are the days complaining about Zoom meetings and feeling like I got nothing done. If I make the room, every day is filled with output and outcomes. Every day about rendering.

  • Rally: Rally is my action word. Nothing beats a great Nadal-Federer rally in tennis, or a bottom of the ninth, two-out Cubs rally and walk-off win. A rally is exciting, energizing, euphoric. It’s filled with purpose and passion. When done with conviction, a rally sparks confidence and becomes contagious. A rally creates experiences, milestones and memories that live much longer than in the moment. If I make room and always render, then 2021 will be filled with some great rallies that will move more than myself forward.

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