My Three Words for 2014

January 7, 2014  |  Personal Development, Study Hacks

Of course, 2014 has already started, but I don’t think I’m too late for defining and publishing my three words for 2014.

This exercise is something I picked up from a Dutch friend, who learned of it from Chris Brogan.

The exercise is not very simple and requires some deep thought beforehand, something I did during a flight of a couple of hours.

Chris puts it like this:

“The idea is that the words you choose will go past being a simple goal and will become part of the way you identify yourself, and thus, a guiding light for your efforts.” – Chris Brogan

The idea is that you define three words, which will function as a daily reminder of your goals. So they can remind you to take a certain action, or be a certain way.

My Three Words

No. I have a tendency to say yes to everything. Help everyone, do work on projects and work out every idea I have. This goes against my pretty lazy nature and it results in a lot of work on my part. I want to say no more, so I can focus on the work which I do right now and choose what I want to do later. Another part of this is say no more to simple urges, like checking Facebook, messengers and watching television shows before going to bed.

This no doesn’t mean negativity, it means more thoughtful choices of where I spend my time and valuing my time appropriately.

No: Work with attention on the current task and choose consciously what to do next.

Deep. Although I am definitely satisfied with what I accomplished in 2013, maybe even proud, I feel like I’ve been lacking ‘deep work’. Deep work is a concept described by Cal Newport where you work with attention on a mentally demanding tasks:

“Deep work: cognitively demanding activities that leverage our training to generate rare and valuable results, and that push our abilities to continually improve” – Cal Newport, ‘Knowledge Workers are Bad at Working (and Here’s What to Do About It…)

Most of my work was fairly shallow, with quick results. I feel the lack of deep work shows both in my online life (StudySuccessful for example) and in my academic/offline life. I want to create a habit of working deep two or three times a week. Where I will read a scientific article, or where I think about a concept for a blog post.

Deep: Practice with cognitively demanding activities.

Structure. In the end of 2013 I started using the ‘Weekly Review’ where I go through all my inboxes, calendars and notes of the past week and review whether I am still on track. This gives me an up-to-date feeling every week and I love these little 30-60 minutes in my week. (More on the weekly review including a detailed list on what I review later.)

This little extra piece of structure in my week helped me a lot in finding continuity in my projects, being up to date on meetings and follow-up with these meetings (emails to send, people to connect with on different networks). I love it. Although spontaneity is great, and a lot can be found in chaos, structure is needed to deliver great work. Structure can be a foundation on which you will personally excel.

Structure: Finding a structure in my daily life on which I will excel.

What are your words?

No, deep and structure are my three words for 2014. I hope to be reminded of them on a daily basis and I hope they will remind me to be a good person. What are your three words?

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About the author

Stefan Knapen is the founder and big boss of StudySuccessful.com. As a 23 year old med student he is trying to become more productive, more successful and more awesome overall in life. Stefan loves coffee, but tea as well. He is currently busy building niche sites and start to create a full-time passive (student) income on the internet!


1 Comment


  1. Great article, I came to the same conclusion when deciding on my resolutions for this year. Previous years I’ve gone with many small goals and always failed, but this year I decided on three words which at first I called ‘vague’ but after reading your post I realised they are better described as things I want to become part of my identity. So my three for the year are positivity, kindness, and strength.
    Tasha´s last blog post ..Reading Bingo Challenge

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