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by David N Johnson

January 6, 2020

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Goals are hard. We’re wired for instant gratification, and if we don’t get what we want, we get tense and anxious. As humans, we act upon the pleasure principle, which is the driving force behind our desires, needs, and urges.

A goal is something that we typically want in the future, such as weight loss, a better job, or starting a business. However, we have to delay the gratification of seeing our goal by taking steps to achieve them today.

In the past few years, I’ve been doing Chris Brogans 3 words exercise and have noticed that I’ve been better equipped to accomplish my goals. Goal setting in the traditional sense is important, and to reach them, you should set SMART goals, write them down, and refer to them often. There are a lot of courses and books available that will help you set goals, but that’s not what this post is about. It’s about themes.

Once you’ve set your goals, take a close look at them, what is common amongst them? What thread is holding them together? What do you feel will help you achieve those goals? One more question, what are you lacking (or need more of) in order to reach them? Is it self-confidence? Kindness? Love? How about follow-through?

Put some effort into this and come up with three words that will help theme your next year. Last year I chose the words Value, Courage, and Love. You can read more about my three words for 2019 here.

In coming up with my theme using just three words, I found myself mourning my three words from last year. I set them as an alarm on my phone three times a day, every day. I’ve lived with them, and while it may be strange to say, I fell in love with those words. However, this is a new year, a new me, and it’s time for a new theme.

This year, I’ve chosen action, follow-through, and obedience.


I have a lot of ideas. I spend about 4 hours a day, every day, commuting into and out of NYC for work. During that time, I do a lot of thinking and meditating. However, I don’t always take action on some of the ideas that I should take action on.


This is a close cousin of action, but it goes further than that. This year I’m determined that I’ll stick with my ideas and follow-through on them no matter how hard they may be. If it’s worth starting, then it’s worth seeing things through to completion.


This is a spiritual theme for me, and since I’m Christian, this is about being obedient to God’s words and living a principled life based on biblical teachings.

Now It’s Your Turn

What three words will be your focus for the upcoming year? What common themes do you see to you goals and what kind of person do you need to be to accomplish them? Knowing the answers to those questions will help you come up with your three words.

When you discover them, reach out, I’d love to hear them.

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David N Johnson

About the author 

David N Johnson

  • In 2019, my three words were based off Earl Nightingale’s old “Formula, Goldmine, Attitude” – changed my life! By the time I hit June, my mind was thoroughly conditioned. Here, in January of 2020, it is no longer a daily uttered practice. I now AM those three words, each and every day. So, I think it’s time to try three new ones in 2020. Gonna have to do some thinking.

    • David N Johnson says:

      You’ll miss living with them, but after a year of doing so you’ve become them. Its time to become three more. Make sure to share them with me when you discover them!

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