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Intention Drives Action

"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”. -Benjamin Franklin

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In this article I will share, How I set Goals using “3 word goal setting” by Chris Brogan.

‘My 3 Words’ was first created by Chris Brogan, a fellow author and also an early pioneer in social media.  This technique was created to ensure that the actions you take during the year are encompassed in 3 valuable words that align to your goals.  These words are just the tip of the spear, and must be followed by authentic desires, actions and progress.He also emphasizes by choosing 3 words (no more, no less) you create a compass for yourself, which will help you make decisions faster and reflect more regularly.

In real terms, anytime you are at a crossroads or need to make a tough decision, like should I take on this project, or new client, you must first ask yourself, “does it fit in my 3 word set for the year?”.  The answer should arrive sooner rather than later.

From talking with clients, I have understood that goals which fail or fade away are often too vague, can be misinterpreted or do not align with the person’s authentic self. There is literally no point in saying “my goal is to get a promotion” when you hate your job.  

The opposite of this is to create three clean and clear words.  If your actions do not contribute to these words, then they are false goals and a one way ticket back to the next “December feeling”.


Before I get into the 3 words I created for myself this year, let me tell you about some of the new years resolutions that failed for me in the past.  One year I planned to get fit by exercising for 20 mins daily. However, i had not made it a goal nor did i write it down. And so I never achieved it.  The same can be said about the year I planned to read a book a month.  These terrible underachievements stopped when I started using the 3 word technique to guide me.  I have been using the method for the last few years, but for today’s example, let me start with 2021, and the three words I selected for this year.

My 3 words for 2021 were Serve, contribute and Strength. Let me elaborate what they meant for me and how I achieved them. 

Word 1 – Serve – I chose this word to help me ensure I published my book “Come Alive, don’t just exist” by the due date in Feb 2021. 

The intention of the book is to Serve fellow humans through a better understanding of self love.  For me, the best manifestation of the word “serve” was releasing this book, and so it was inherently linked to the launch happening on time and becoming a success.

Word 2 – Contribute – After publishing and launching the book, I had planned to start coaching as a contribution. As mentioned in the book, All the proceeds from my coaching and book sales go to 2 foundations: Palmon Foundation that supports scholarships to students in India, Bangladesh and Nepal and Harmony House India, a day shelter for children. 

My book is a momentary expression of my thoughts.  The word “contribute” was there as a reminder to take action on my thoughts and to support the causes I believe in.  

Word 3 – Strength – The journey of a coach and author was a new one and additional to the roles i am playing in my life currently, I knew I needed mental strength, physical strength and emotional strength to progress on this journey and so this word is something i request the creator to bestow upon me everyday   

How will you choose your three words?

Some tips I picked up studying Chris combined with my own experience implementing his approach are mentioned below – 

  1. Don’t make your 3 words into a phrase. For example, “Publish the book” is a terrible choice. The word “The” is wasted.  Publish and any of the acts involved it in, can be summarised in an umbrella word like “Share”
  1. Make the words actionable. “Expand” is better than “bigger.”  The more utilitarian the word can be, the better. Remember, these words have to become your compass.
  1. Stick with the same 3 words all year. Every time I’ve changed a word a month or two later, the year mucks up. I can’t explain it, but once you start making changes, the results start to dilute.
  1. Keep it simple.   The years where I’ve tried “fancy” words with layers of meaning, I lost my way. Use plain words.

5) Make it meaningful.  For clarity, I mean the words don’t have to mean anything to anyone but you. Don’t worry about explaining them to others, don’t seek approval of your words.  Once generated, tattoo them on your heart and let them guide you.

Furthermore, To give me a head start I have chosen 3 words for 2022 and they are Love, Joy and Rise. 

Love – Love is my highest value and it is a value at work and home. I intend to practice more unconditional love with myself, my family and my stakeholders at work. I want to embark on new levels of Love in Leadership. Which is also the theme of my second book. The ability to become Love, irrelevant of the circumstances and events that take place is my goal for 2022

Joy – The year 2021 was filled with challenges at work and my personal life where I was questioning myself for the work I was putting in to maintain a happy home and a successful organisation. I often had a question that am i giving my best to my work as obstacles kept appearing and we were unable to see the results.

During my reflections the message i got is something i would like to share from ‘The Bhagavad Gita. it is the learning that Krishna gives Arjuna that acting with detachment means doing the right thing for its own sake, because it needs to be done, without worrying about success or failure. 

At the same time, Krishna repeatedly reminds Arjuna not to give up the role his destiny demands of him. In a sense, the Bhagavad Gita is one long teaching on how to act with maximum grace while under maximum pressure

The pressure is so big sometimes that we forget to enjoy the journey and when in fact it’s all about the journey. This month, this realisation shifted my focus from an outcome driven approach to focusing on the joy of the journey. In business this is a tough one but I will work to make it more important than the outcome. 

3 – Rise – with great pressure i also felt all the feelings that i had worked on for 4 years, surface a little. And I started working to rise above the situation with all the work I had done on my beliefs and myself. I felt my ego surface up, I felt some expectations surface up and when I realised that the discomfort in me is caused by such feelings, I started working on rising above the feeling and situation to understand the core issue. I will hold on to the word rise for the coming year as this is something that will guide me in most painful situations.

To conclude, I chose these 3 words keeping in mind my learnings from this year and something that will help me grow to a better version of myself next year. We are all work in progress and the more we work on ourselves the more we will progress on this journey of life and evolution.

As soon as you decide your 3 words, you need to note it down and keep it where you can see them. Like, a post-it in the office or on the fridge at home. By keeping them somewhere you can see them often, you allow them to subconsciously direct you. Every year we have a chance to rewrite our destiny on our terms, if we are mindful about it then we will yield the results we desire and move in the direction of our purpose.