“It is good to have an end to journey towards, but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” — Ursula K LeGuin

If you want to have your best year ever, take a look at using Three Wins for the Year.

Three Wins for the Year is a technique I share in my best-seller, Getting Results the Agile Way.   It’s a simple way to get clarity around the 3 big things that you really want out of this year.

What if you could look back a year from now and say with confidence that you achieved the three most important changes that you could make in your life right now?

This could be anything from getting to your ideal weight, to finding your dream job, to taking an incredible journey.

That’s the big idea behind Three Wins for the Year.   It’s about helping you identify and achieve three key meaningful changes in your life, that really help you make the most out of the year.

So when next year rolls around, instead of wondering where the year went, or how it flew by so fast, you have Three Wins for the Year under your belt, that really changed your life.

The Story of Three Wins for the Year

It was the new year and I was setting my goals.  I had spent a lot of time sorting and sifting through all sorts of fancy ways to set and plan my goals.

When I finally got clarity, I pushed all my thinking aside and asked a very simple question:

“If this were next year, what are three great results I would want under my belt?”

Without hesitation, I answered: (1) get to my fighting weight; (2) finish my book; and (3) take an epic adventure.

Since it sounded almost too simple to be useful, I had to question whether this was how I was going to set my goals for the year. Something inside me told me that I finally found the secret sauce for significant change. I would feel a sense of fulfillment if I turned the page of another year of my life and found that I had achieved these three things for the year (or at least come really close).

Why “Three Wins for the Year”?

You can think of the Three Wins for the Year as three stories of personal change that you’d like to be able to tell at the end of the year.

Does it get any better or more simpler than that?

Three Wins for the Year helps us dream big and play out “what if” scenarios in a simple way.  It gives us a way to very quickly, and very easily re-imagine what we can achieve this next year, before we get bogged down, or over-engineer, or over-analyze our goals, or lose site of our bigger picture.

Step 1.  Identify Three Great Wins You Want for this Coming Year

Identify the three most important changes you want in your life at this time. These could be related to your work or personal life. These could be about making your dreams happen, such as starting your own business, or they can be about getting yourself out of pain, such as getting out of debt. Think about your Life Hot Spots: mind, body, emotions, career, finance, relationships, and fun. What are the three most important things you want to achieve?

The simplest way to get to some insightful answers is to ask yourself the tough question:

“If this were next year, what are three things I would want to be different?”

For my example, the very first time I did this exercise, I picked three things:

  1. Fighting weight – because I want the feeling of freedom and flexibility.
  2. Epic adventure – because I want to test myself and create great experiences to look back on.
  3. Book – because it’s the greatest gift I can give others—the gift of results.

If you struggle here, then try another approach.   If you had a genie, what would be three things you would wish for?  Sometimes we have to come at this from other angles before we ring the Three Wins for the Year that really ring true.  Fear gets in the way.  Limiting thoughts get in the way.   If it helps you uncork the possibilities, then by all means imagine a genie and grant yourself three wishes.  What are they?

Step 2. Identify The WHY Behind Your Three Wins for the Year

Once you have chosen your Three Wins for the Year, the best thing you can do is find out why they matter so much.

The simplest way to do this is to just start writing down why they matter.

Take each result you want to achieve and write a hearty paragraph about why it really matters to you. Ask yourself the following question:

“Why do I need to achieve this?”

Don’t critique your thoughts. Instead, just pluck your reasons as they flow and plot them down. Think of it as your personal manifesto, and if you should forget why you do what you do or get knocked off your horse, this will be your reminder. If you can’t write at least a paragraph of why each one is so important to you and why you need to make it happen, then consider whether you picked your three most important results for the year.

After all, when you’re designing your year, you really want to invest your life force where it matters most.

This is also a great chance to help you separate ends-goals from means-goals.  Use this as a chance to get clear on what you really want to achieve.  Don’t get stuck on how you get there or confuse a means with the ends.

By separating the ends from the means, you also give yourself flexibility in how you get there. For example, you might think you want a Ferrari. What you might actually want is to feel free or to feel strong. There are plenty of faster, less expensive, and more effective ways than buying the Ferrari. If you think you really need the Ferrari, then try before you buy—rent one for the day. Experiment with your dreams and test them to figure out what you really want.

Remember the adage, “Be careful what you wish for, because you just might get it.”

Step 3.  Put Your Three Wins for the Year Where you Can Easily See Them

Write your Three Wins for the Year on a piece of paper and stick it somewhere that you glance often.  While your Three Wins for the Year are on your mind, so are a lot of other things.  You need a simple way to keep reminding yourself of your three precious, personal victories that you want to accomplish this year.

Having them in your field of vision will be a quick and easy reminder of the three most important changes for you this year.

If you keep your Three Wins for the Year front and center, you will find yourself constantly finding ways to make them happen.  You’ll find little ways.  You’ll find big ways.  Your mind will be on your side, and when your mind really wants something, it gets resourceful.

In fact, the most useful and most powerful thing you could possibly do, is shape your schedule to match and support your three priorities, whether that’s adding an appointment each day or each week to focus on those priorities.

We get what we focus on.  And, we focus on what we spend our time on.

The World Conspires with You

This is perhaps my favorite part of the whole exercise.   It’s what happens in the world around when you, when you suddenly create clarity around what you want for this coming year.

When you have your big goals in front of you (and you will because now you can easily remember your Three Wins for the Year), YOUR world suddenly conspires with you.

You’ll find yourself noticing all sorts of things that you didn’t before. Have you ever bought a new car, only to suddenly see the same car on the road when you never noticed how many there were before?

Your mind is an amazing filter. By setting your sights and living with focus, you expand your awareness. You start to realize how many people and resources, in addition to your own abilities, are available to help you. In fact, a useful exercise is to simply make a list of all the people, resources, and skills that can help you make your dreams happen.

Dream big.

Enjoy the journey.

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Image by Nuno Duarte.

Sources of Insight