3 Words and 12 Commitments for 2012

The Time Is Now 2 - calligraphy art by Melissa DinwiddieIs it just me, or did all this recent reflecting about The Year That Was and intentionizing about The Year That Is Yet To Be — before The Year That Was was even over — feel a little weird?

Nope — it’s not just me. The amazing and wonderful Havi just pointed out this very thing in a recent Very Personal Ad.

Ahhhh… Recognition!

And validation for the fact that, hey, I just need a little more time to process, thank you very much. And that’s okay. (Chris Guillebeau, how do you do it all by December 26?)

Seriously, if one has a goal of being more mindful throughout the year (and I do!), resting all one’s hopes and dreams on intentions set in late December feels a bit manic anyway, you know?

Deep sigh.

So let’s take a moment for some more reflecting and intentionizing, shall we?

3 Words for 2012

Every year since around 2006, superstar blogger Chris Brogan has been challenging people to come up with three words to help you define your goals and experiences for the coming year.

Last year, my then business partner, Heather, took this idea and assigned all of us working with her the task of choosing three words of our own for 2011. My words were Reach, Abundance, Serenity.

All well and good, except that I didn’t really do much to keep those words front-of-mind, and honestly forgot all about them until I re-read last year’s post

Still, I like the idea of three words, and I’ve been thinking of what mine will be for 2012.

Self-compassion, for sure. But the others? Mull, mull, mull…

Then I happened to see Chris Brogan’s recent post, My 3 Words for 2012, and I had my answer. (More on that in a moment.)

12 Commitments

First, Chris shared a link to Jacqueline’s post, 12 in 12, that got me all excited. What a brilliant idea!

In short: 12 month-long daily commitments, one for each month of the year. #12in12.

I like it!

As I mentioned in The Great Bedtime Experiment post, time-limited challenges seem to work very well for me. I may pick some goals with the intention of using the month-long challenge to make a habit permanent, or I may choose a month-long goal purely as an experiment, to see if I even want to incorporate this practice/thing/habit into my life in this way. Or I might use it as a way to accomplish a closed-ended project.

Whichever, it’s a great way to create an arc to my year, and hopefully make some awesomelicious transformation!

Wanna join me?

If you need some ideas for what to do daily for an entire month, try one of Jacqueline’s suggestions:

*Any physical fitness activity (pushups, running, yoga, pilates, weight training, boxing, crossfit, walking, biking…) It can be the same one for the month, or a mix.

*Read everyday for a specific length of time (15min, 30min, 1hr…)

*Give up something (TV, sugar, complaining, alcohol, the elevator, twitter/facebook, coffee, texting, Starbucks/Dunkins, eating out…)


*Write (Keep a journal, start a blog, hand write letters)

*Say hello/compliment a stranger

*Wake up 30-60min earlier

*Take one photo a day

*Meditate (if only for 5min/day and work your way up)

*Try one new food a day

*Learn one new word a day (or five!)

*Unplug by 7pm

*Cook all of your meals

*Look in the mirror and say “You are perfect. You matter. You can do achieve anything. I love you”

*Check your email only at set times of day

*Take public transportation

*Try a different eating philosophy (Vegan, Raw vegan, Paleo, Mediterranean, Vegetarian)

*Do cartwheels and handstands

My first commitment is The Great Bedtime Experiment: lights out by 11pm every night of January. (Quite a little band of “bedtime buddies” is forming around this commitment! Seems I’m not the only one who wants to change her relationship to sleep!)

I’ve also got some other commitments — including a top-secret pilot program I’m running with members of my Creative Ignition Club (one of the benefits of Club membership is getting to help me develop new programs and offerings). But I’ll keep those private for now…


Back to My 3 Words

To determine my goals for future months, I’m following Chris’s example and using my three words as a starting place.

I’ve already got Self-compassion, as I mentioned. Which means that I will treat myself with utmost care and compassion. This includes adequate sleep (Great Bedtime Experiment!), and it also means giving myself yoga, walks and other exercise. Eating well and mindfully. Being mindful of where I invest my time and energy, and what media I consume. And, of course, forgiveness, and humane (rather than Super-Human) expectations.

My other two words I’m stealing directly from Chris Brogan, because they captured so exactly what I want for this coming year:

Untangle — What a perfect word to express the desire I have to streamline, to create and build from a place of authenticity and groundedness. To unhook as best I can from my frozen need for external approval. To get rid of stuff I don’t need, both physical and mental. To (as Chris so aptly put it) “stop acting like I have ADD and focus on a few things and do those well, instead of a lot of things and just barely succeed.” Yes. Ahhhhh. Exactly. Thank you, Chris!

Practice — As Chris Brogan says, “the practice is the reward.” I discovered this viscerally when I embarked on my rediscovery of my art with my 15 Minutes-a-Day creative challenge. Hell, I’ve known it for a loooong time. Yet maintaining practice is hard for me! I fall off the wagon continually, and have to practice getting back on. My intention for 2012 is to keep coming back to practice — in my art, my business, my music, my writing, my physical practices. (Thank you again, Chris!)

Self-Compassion. Untangle. Practice.

Last year, my words felt like a patch. A last-minute scrambling to fulfill an assignment.

This year, my words feel true. Emerging from a place deep inside. These are the three major themes that I need right now. My intention is to use these words as a touchstone throughout this year. It’s hard to imagine I would ever choose any other 3 words, but we’ll see how I feel in another 360 days or so. 😉


What 3 words will define you and/or your challenges and intentions for 2012? What is your commitment for January? Let’s talk about them in the comments, or blog your own 3 words post and leave links in the comments. Let’s make 2012 a year of amazing action and creative abundance!

xo, Melissa <3
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  1. daphne says

    fabulous and so in line with what I’m doing this year – a theme a month. This month: desire and cleansing. But you’ve upped the game with three words. Here are mine:
    pleasure, presence, authentic

    And I totally agree with you about trying to plan the whole year while the last is still going on. My husband came up with a new plan: spend December acknowledging the entire last year. Spend January planning for the new one.

    • Melissa Dinwiddie says

      Ooh, I love “desire and cleansing,” and your three words are soooo resonant! I totally love your husband’s new plan, too. YAY for allowing time for both acknowledgment and planning!

  2. says

    Oooh, yes. I like the feeling of the word “untangle” as a theme for the upcoming year. 2011 seemed to do a lot of tangling, so to use 2012 to sort it all out seems appropriate. And you’ll need a buttload of self-compassion to do it.

    I have four words: I want to feel affluent, tapped-in, sovereign, and dynamic. These are the essence of my core, and it’s a shame that I only discovered them recently. I can’t even imagine what amazing things will happen as I devote my energy to them!

    • Melissa Dinwiddie says

      Isn’t “Untangle” awesome? When I saw that in Chris Brogan’s post, it just encapsulated so much of what I want more of in my life — ie, fewer tangles. 😉

      I love that you focused your words around the feelings you want. Sometimes I forget to think about feelings, but it’s really a smart way to organize things. :)

  3. says

    Fantastic post! I have only picked 2 words this year, but they work so well together it feels like more. Simple Appreciation, or Appreciate Simplicity. Very much like your ‘untangle’ it just feels like exactly what I’m looking forward to!

    • Melissa Dinwiddie says

      Ooh — I really like your words, Pam! I can never have too much Appreciate/Appreciation and Simple/Simplicity in my life. :)

  4. Erin @ Wild Whispers says

    Three words, twelve commitments. Hmmm…. I have one word, but it’s a challenging one, and it embodies much of what your words picked. My word is “grace.” Grace to myself, to others, extending it out of me to the world around. Grace of the Creator in me… GRACE. That said, if I were to adopt another, I love your “untangle”. But I think grace does the untangling for us, if we let it, huh?

    As for the twelve? Not sure if I am going to do twelve… maybe six?

  5. Da prince says

    This is a great way of starting the year. I love the word creative it has been a theme4me but this year my three words wil be established, network and fulfil these are d core of what i want as my theme for,i wil be committed to it. Am a young African moti

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