My 3 Words: 2024
Every year, I select 3 words that act as guideposts for the year ahead. Here's how I did in 2023 and where I plan to grow in 2024.
For those wanting to know more about this process, follow Chris Brogan. He shared this technique about 15 years ago; I've been doing it ever since.
Last year, I picked the following words:
I did well on #1 and fantastic on #2 but fell flat on my face for #3.
In terms of community, I made some solid headway.
I joined a peer group of startup CTOs.
I joined another peer group as part of the Flow Research Collective.
I became more engaged and active in the web3 space.
Unfortunately, these were all online and remote relationships. I failed to make friends in my local community. I'd still like to improve that in the near year.
In terms of mentors, I leaned in hard:
I hired 3 different coaches (writing, sales, and leadership).
I read Tim Ferriss's book Tribe of Mentors daily (a mental mentor check-in).
I mentored a Techstars’ cohort (Dallas, Fort Worth).
I contacted a few former peers and mentors to stay in touch.
I leaned on my investors and board members for help and advice.
This was fantastic, and I leveled up across the board due to this guidance. I'm going to carry this momentum into 2024.
And for Joy, well, this was a rough year.
Depression hit me hard a few times.
We lost a family member after a long, multi-year health battle.
My industry tanked, and the stress of navigating that was a lot.
Still, I kept these 3 words in mind, even during the dark times. They helped me keep on the straight and narrow, and I'm set up for a great 2024.
Here are my words for the upcoming year.
1. Higher Power
For anyone who knows me, it's no secret that I'm in a 12-step recovery program. I grew up in a large, extended family with rampant alcoholism. Only in my adult years did I realize how much this negatively impacted me. Fortunately, I discovered Al-Anon, which has been a godsend in helping me identify these issues and offer potential solutions.
One of the parts of the program I need to embrace is the concept of a Higher Power. Why have I resisted this? My ego hates giving up control because of my need for safety (probably because I didn't feel safe growing up). And to believe in the concept of turning one's will over to a higher, spiritual force can be downright terrifying.
For the longest time, I thought I could outwit my problems. I took a my-way-or-the-highway on how I tackled them.
However, life has forced me to reconsider this approach (and that's okay). I don't always know what's best, and maybe there's a better solution than what my ego thinks is best.
There's the life you plan and the life that emerges. I still hold onto my dreams from my early 20s, but life is quite different in my early 40s. In many ways, it's better than expected. In other ways, it is devastating.
I can fight and resist, or I can try a new approach. This year, I'm choosing the latter. It's time to lean harder in, trust my Higher Power, and give my ego a much-needed vacation. So, this is my top keyword for 2024.
2. Emotional Stamina
I learned this phrase in Brian Johnson's book Arete. In short, Emotional Stamina is the ability to bounce back from adversity. Essentially, it's the opposite of learned helplessness, where one collapses at the first sign of adversity. With emotional stamina, you double down on doing the right thing, even when it's the last thing you want to do.
Steven Kotler had a great way of describing it. "How can you perform your best when you're at your worst." Okay, so you're tired. Can you still do what you need to do? Okay, so you're grouchy. Can you still show up and give it your best?
I know what most of my triggers are and what conditions make me feel like I'm at my worst (lack of sleep, lots of multi-tasking, lots of distractions). So, I've created my list of ideal responses for these scenarios. Now, it's a matter of memorizing and putting them into action when I don't feel like it (especially when I don't feel like it).
This one is straightforward. We all know the benefits of small actions building up over months, years, and decades. Many of the people I most admire have kept up daily habits of writing (Seth Godin) or creating (Beeple) for over a decade. It seems impossible, yet it's just a daily commitment to do the work without fail and without excuses.
As Charlie Munger wrote, "Never interrupt compounding unnecessarily."
I've had many failed attempts at long-term compounding. I wrote on my blog for years, but then life got busy. I wrote two books but then failed to promote either of them. I have much to teach my kids during their formative years, but I only sometimes dedicate the time to sit down with them and share what I know.
This year, I'm determined to not have false starts. I will be careful to avoid taking on what I can't commit to long-term, but I will keep a few habits going without fail.
So there you have it. My 3 words, guideposts for 2024. I'm sharing publicly not only to sharpen my thinking but also to hold myself accountable.