The 3 Words That Will Guide Me in 2020


Happy New Year!

I hope your 2020 is off to a great start!

Mine started off a little bumpy with some illness, but I’m getting over the hump and I’m back in the office (even though I still sound a little funky). So, thanks for bearing with me.

One of the things I do leading up to the new year is to identify three words to serve as guiding principles for my year. 

These are not resolutions, but words or themes to help guide my actions in an effort to achieve my goals – both personally and professionally. In fact, I typically add these words to my bulletin board and keep it up all year to serve as a reminder.

I modeled this after Chris Brogan’s three words exercise. This is my ninth year doing this. You can read my words from the past eight years here.

My Three Words for 2020

My Three Words for 2020


This year, I want to focus on building strong habits. And the first place I’m starting is with my morning routine.

For years, I had a healthy routine in place. I got up early to run, read my devotional and I would write most mornings. However, those habits got knocked off course during my pregnancy and I never got a routine back in place after my son was born almost two years ago.

This past year, I’ve made some progress in getting some of these habits back. I’m proud to say that I was pretty consistent in making it to the gym in the morning three times a week. 

But, on the days I didn’t work out, I allowed myself to “sleep in” an extra hour. 

While that might seem like no big deal, it meant I didn’t have a good rhythm in place. It made it harder to wake up on the workout mornings. And, if my son happened to wake up early on the mornings my husband was still at the gym, I struggled to get everything done and get us out the door in time. Not to mention, I wasn’t consistent with my devotional time and I definitely didn’t have time to write.

Shifting my morning routine

All of this came into focus for me a few weeks ago when I was listening to Rachel Hollis on the RISE podcast when she talked about the importance of a morning routine. She shared that parents, and especially women, tend to give themselves their “me time” in the evenings after the kids have gone to bed. 

The problem with that is you are tired. As Rachel put it, you are giving yourself the leftovers… the LAST drops of the day. That statement really hit me.  When she said that, it was the wake-up call I needed to make a change.

You see, as she said, the evening the worst time to try and do things that fill you up. And yet, that’s what so many of us do. But, because we’re tired, we lack the motivation or energy to do much of anything, so we scroll on our phones or watch TV and inevitably, we stay up too late, which is why we don’t want to get up earlier.

To combat this, Rachel suggested starting your bedtime routine after your kids go to bed. Focus on winding down so you can go to bed on time so you can wake up early with energy.

One of the other recommendations she made around this is to get up if you wake up before your alarm. She said her rule of thumb was to get out of bed if it was any time after 3 am and she woke up. 

I’m going to admit, I thought this was absolutely crazy. But, a few days after listening, I was up with my son around 3:30 am. I came back to bed at 4 am, but I was wide awake. After laying there for a few minutes, I decided to give this idea a try.

So, I got up. Went through a series of exercises and stretches and listened to a devotional while doing so, I wrote nearly 1000 words, made breakfast, packed the kiddo’s lunch and got ready all before my son woke up.

It was awesome. And after that morning, I was sold. Now, I don’t plan to wake up at 4 am every day. But, I do plan to get up at 5 am on a consistent basis. And even after doing this for a week or so before the holidays, my body had already started to adjust to the new routine and was waking up before the alarm every morning. 

Other habits I’m adopting

In addition to creating habits for my morning routine, I’m also working on habits to support the goals for my business and for other areas of my life. I’m asking myself – what habit would help me reach this particular goal? 

For instance, I want to read 24 books this year. What habit do I need to adopt to achieve this? I am reading 30 minutes every night to do this. 

Another goal is to write a book. I will never get there if I don’t write. So, for me, it’s about writing a certain number of words every day to get in the habit and build this muscle. 

If I can get really good a building solid habits, I know that I’ll be able to move things forward with my business and achieve some goals in my life.


My second word for 2020 is mindset.

As I was writing down words and phrases I wanted to focus on this year, I ended up with a laundry list of attitudes, ideas and motivations I wanted to adopt. All of them seemed important, but disparate. I wasn’t seeing a theme emerge amongst the words, nor was any one word rising to the top in importance.

That’s when I realized these words were really a list of mindset shifts I want to make. Essentially, I want to adopt a growth mindset. I want to get more comfortable with being uncomfortable. 

If you listen to successful people, they will often tout the value of mastering your mindset.

Plus, there’s a ton of research to back up the power of mindset. Carol Dweck is the top researcher on the subject. She explains that people either have a fixed mindset or growth mindset. 

To explain the difference, here’s a summary from an article Professor Dweck wrote for Harvard Business Review:

“Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning.”

For me, this is a lot of what bravery looks like––being willing to do things I’m not good at and risk failing or looking foolish in the process.

You see, I’m someone who cares a great deal about how I show up to the world. I’m working to unravel a lifelong battle with perfectionism. So, for me, failing and looking like I don’t have my act together are some of my greatest fears. 

I know that I will never grow if I keep playing it safe. I’ve got to get more outside of my comfort zone. And mastering my mindset is a great place to start. 

Here are just some of the mindset shifts I’m going to focus on making this year in my effort to be braver and focused on growth:

  • Embrace imperfection
  • Own my brilliance 
  • Push boundaries 
  • Be a beginner and try new things
  • Fail forward
  • Encourage others
  • Choose gratitude
  • Give self-compassion 
  • Positive self-talk

A lot of the battles I fight are in my mind. I often say that I’m my own worst critic. And it’s time that stops. I know that if I can steer my mind in a better direction, a lot of growth will come from it. 


Okay, now for my third word of the year. It’s Play!

I once had a business coach who asked me this question – “what would be fun for you?” 

Honestly, it’s a question that flummoxed me for awhile. FUN? How could I think about what would be fun to do? I was so worried about growing my business and generating revenue, that the idea of doing something fun never even crossed my mind.

However, there is a ton of value behind this idea. When we are doing things that light us up and allow us to come alive, it shows through our work and in our attitudes. People want to be a part of it and they want to be around you.

So, this year, I’m taking more time to play and answer the question of “what would be fun for me?”

One way I’m doing this is setting up some time to make some art with Beth Inglish, the first guest on the show. I can’t wait to do that! I’m not an artist, but I’m excited to learn, explore and create!

I also want to make more space to do fun things with my husband and son. We often go on weekend adventures and I want more of that. It is so fun to watch how my almost two-year-old plays and see how his mind works. Watching him play and playing along with him helps expand my mind too.

I started this very podcast in part, because I thought it would be fun. In fact, I pulled up a document from almost three years ago. The very first answer to the question of “what would be fun for me?” was this – “Conversations / interviews with interesting people – change-makers, creatives, innovators, disruptors, etc.” Does this sound familiar? That’s EXACTLY what I’m doing now with this podcast.

But, it took me a long time to finally rip the band-aid off and do it. I thought it would be fun, but I wasn’t sure it would be productive. I’m trying to let go of the idea that everything has to have a purpose or agenda. Sometimes, it’s really okay to do things for the fun of it! 

That’s a big reason I’m doing this podcast. But, I also hope a lot of learning and growth comes from it and that’s it’s valuable to you in the process. 

And, I’ve got lots of other ideas of things I want to play around with just to see where they might lead. I want to spend more time playfully creating and curiously exploring ideas. Because I think in the joy and fun of life is where our best ideas and work happen. 

What are your words?

Those are my three words. I’d love to know – do you choose a word or series of words for your year? I’d LOVE to hear what you’re focusing on so we can encourage each other. 

Feel free to shoot me an email at and let me know what you’re focusing on. Or, you can join the conversation on Facebook or Instagram. You can find me there by searching Make it Brave. 

Thanks, as always, for listening.

I’m so grateful you are here! If you enjoyed the show, would you leave a review? Your reviews help others discover the show and it gives me great feedback too. Heck, I might even give you a shout out on the show if you leave a review! 

I’ll be back on Monday with another fresh, new episode. I’ll look forward to being with you again then. 

I hope you have a great day and a tremendous start to 2020. Here’s to making this YOUR YEAR.

And don’t forget, whatever you do today friends, don’t forget to make it brave. 


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