What if you wanted to be a better person and there was something so simple that anyone could do it, and it would make a measurable, tangible difference in your life? What if there was a way to work towards who you want to be and what you want to accomplish that wouldn’t add guilt and pressure to your daily routine? It’s possible if you stay consistent with this life-changing method, and you’ll find that three words can change your life.
There are lots of books, articles, and podcasts out there on goal setting and personal development, but most of them are geared towards the business world. Some of them have systems and checklists and daily tasks that are so detailed and complicated, they would never work for me. Not only that, for a long time it didn’t occur to me to set goals for who I wanted to be as a person and as a wife and mother. Goal setting and personal development seemed related only to business goals, organization, and time management-type topics.
It wasn’t until I stumbled upon this method of “goal setting” that I saw real progress in just a few weeks. Now before we go any further, I realize that this is simplified and it won’t be the end-all for everyone. I only know One Person who is that. But I’ve experienced the power of this simple practice, so here it is:
- Choose an area of your life, such as your interactions with others.
- Choose three words that describe who you want your future self to be in interactions with others.
- Continually review and apply those words.
As an example, my three words for this area are Connect, Forgive and Serve.
- Connect is important for me because I can get so busy or focused that I fail to notice or interact with people. When faced with perceived rejection I also tend to withdraw. So Connect is a powerful reminder to be present, to get over myself and encourage someone else, and to show physical affection for my family.
- The word Forgive has changed my life. And I didn’t consider myself an unforgiving or bitter person. But I had some relationships in which I was judging, blaming and feeling hurt based on past experiences. When I began to speak “forgiveness and love,” and imagine sending those relationships forgiveness and love across the miles, it changed me. I thought/spoke it whenever I would have previously judged someone’s intentions or choices. I thought/spoke it when before, I would have assumed the worst about how they thought of me. Basically that word Forgive drew me to prayer and forgiveness and love continually INSTEAD of judgment, criticism and unforgiveness through reliving past hurts, assuming someone’s intentions and speaking curses over them. Speaking critically about someone is pretty much the same as cursing them. Words matter, oh man they do. So now instead I’m speaking life over them. It changed me, and it also changed and is changing the relationships. Words of life and love have traveled the miles and softened hearts.
- Serve is a word that redirects my self-focus and fear. When I want to make excuses for not taking care of responsibilities, when I’m tempted to put off doing things that will encourage others, when I start thinking it’s scary to put myself out there and be vulnerable, Serve reminds me of my purpose.
I have made real progress in my interactions with others by focusing on these three words. They inform my decisions and remind me of how I want to show up in life.
I would recommend that you choose no more than three areas of life at a time to do this with. If you have a great need in one area of your life, you could get more specific about the area (such as marriage or motherhood), but choose only three words for the area. It sounds counter-intuitive but choosing many words will dilute the effect. Three words are few enough for good focus and the ability to remember and apply. You won’t get better results by piling on the words with all the changes you want to make. More likely, you’d feel overwhelmed and fail to stick with it.
Three simple words have a powerful effect because words themselves have power. God spoke the world into existence and we are made in His image. Don’t underestimate that connection.
Your three words can give you clarity about who you want to be and how you want your life to look. Think about who your best self would be in the area you choose. Don’t overthink it–your words are not going to be carved on a tablet of stone. If it turns out that one of them isn’t a good fit, change it!
Choose your life area, choose your three words, and write them down. Post them on your bathroom mirror. Write them in your planner. Stick them on the refrigerator–whatever it takes for you to be reminded of them. As situations come up, apply your words. It’s that simple. And three words can change your life.