Marathon, Sideways, Backpack: 3 Words For 2010

3 - Flickr - Leo ReynoldsI first read about the 3 words on January 1, 2009. I left a comment on Chris Brogan’s blog where I listed my (4) goals for 2009 – BEEP: Breathe. Engage. Energize. Prioritize. Re-reading his post and mapping that to what I wrote in the comments, I’m not sure I really got it. I mean, those were definitely words and goals and all, but they didn’t capture the essence of the exercise. I didn’t “extrapolate” as Chris said.

I’m still not sure I’ve got it right, but I think I’m getting closer. Also, I realize I’m a bit late as we’re nearly a month a half into the new year. Such is life.

My 3 Words For 2010

  1. Marathon
  2. Sideways
  3. Backpack

Marathon: We’ve all heard analogy before. It’s a marathon, not a sprint. I’m not claiming that this concept is unique, but it really applies to me and my life – especially the past few years. It’s been a bit nutty. Add the fact that in 6+ weeks, we’ll go from a couple (me and Kristina) to a family (me, Kristina, and Baby Waldow) and – holy crap! So, I’m working on positioning this year as one long race with an end goal and small milestones (each mile) along the way. Benchmark. Create goals & objectives. Measure. Review. Tweak. Celebrate. Continue forward, peek sideways.

Sideways*: It’s important to reflect, to look back and learn from the good & bad. However, it’s also critical to not dwell too long. When I think of setting goals and driving towards them, one must be focused – looking forward. That being said, it’s okay to also see what is happening on the periphery. This includes taking some risks, experimenting, etc. I’ll be doing a bit more of that looking to the left and right in 2010.

*No relation to the movie, Sideways. I like wine but prefer beer.

Backpack: I’m not a big-time camper. However, about 10 years ago I did hike the last 114 miles of the Appalachian Trail with my good buddy John Dobbins. I’m also not a backpacker – yet I also spent 7 weeks in Europe with a big pack on my back (also with John). The key to the backpack is that you can only put in it what can fit. Translate this to life and you can’t do it all. I’m not sure this relates entirely, but I think about this clip from “Up In The Air” when I hear the word backpack. In 2010 the major contents of backpack will be family. Kristina and Baby Waldow will fill most of the pack. Continuing with the analogy, I’m going to use the backpack to help get more organized & to eliminate distractions. Finally, the backpack symbolizes travel – meeting new people & reconnecting with old friends.

What did others – those I follow – choose this year? Chris picked Ecosystems, Owners and Kings. Amber Naslund chose 4 – Discipline, Canteen, Chords, and Fleet. Chris Penn “broke convention” when he used a phrase as his 3 words: Unleash your potential.

What about you? What are your 3 or 4 words? Your phrase? It’s not too late!

Image Credit: Leo Reynolds

DJ Waldow

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Ryan Miller
Ryan Miller


I really liked this post. Thanks for sharing, especially the analogy of the backpack. That's something I struggle with a lot (thinking I can do everything). Here's a thought for my 3 words:

Backpack - (totally stealing this from you) - I will do a better job of prioritizing and also make sure that travel is one of the things in my pack

Lego - I am going to try to keep my goals top of mind and do one small thing each day that brings me even a tiny bit closer to accomplishing them.

Ask - Sometimes the only reason you don't get to where you want in business or in life is because you're afraid to ask. But if you don't ask, you'll never know what the answer would have been.


DJ: Always a good reminder that you can't do everything. I have to remind myself of that every day and allow myself not to get worked up about not reading the Google Reader, or not writing on my blog, or not getting something at work that can actually wait. Good stuff here.

Can't really think of three words at the moment. May have to go with three phrases, one of which is "Celebrate Victories."

Kristen Gregory
Kristen Gregory

I can't come up with my words this minute if they are really going to have value, but I really dig the concept of holding onto some important goals/priorities/mantras if you will, to remind you what's most important. It's very easy to get sidetracked. Thanks, DJ!