Debbie’s Three Words for 2014


I’ve procrastinated, painfully, on this blog post. Here’s what happened.

For the past several years I have selected three words as guides for what I want to accomplish and how I want to change in the new year. It’s a way of setting goals that I stole from several well-known bloggers (see here and here if you are interested).

This approach to goal-setting enables you to think about the upcoming year in several dimensions and with a spirit of intention. There are no absolute rules. It’s easier if your words are positive and motivational and it works better if they are verbs. I wrote about my three words in 2013 and in 2012.

This exercise seemed like a perfect fit for a Gap Year blog so I assigned it to Sam (see here). And then to myself. Here are the three words I initially chose for 2014: Write, Embrace, Ship.


You will notice that Sam chose write also. We did this independently. Writing – and subsequently publishing – is what means the most to me. It makes me sane and it makes me whole. So just write goes at the top of  my list for 2014.

Here’s an inside peek into my approach to writing: rather than focus on big goals, I have turned this intention into a daily ritual. My commitment is to write before 9 AM every day and – this is key – before checking email or going on the Web, the ultimate addictive activities. So I sit down, apply fingers to keyboard and free write (i.e. write anything that comes to mind). For five minutes or 50 minutes. Whatever works that day.

Free writing (some call it journaling) is not a waste of time. It’s a proven way to break through resistance to writing. Typically, resistance springs from an inner critic (call it your “inner editor”) saying don’t bother; why start; it will be crappy; people will laugh at you; etc.

In fact, the secret of writing is that you have to write through the bad (the junk and the dreck) before you get to the good. Free writing does exactly that. It’s the painful reality of being a professional writer. But once you turn writing into a no-fail activity, it’s a lot easier to make it a daily habit and to make progress.

Embrace Honesty

Here is where the hang up in my three words exercise began. I wanted to choose the word embrace because it works on a number of levels and because it’s part of the tagline for this blog. But I cannot. That is a big admission seven months into this gap year: I have been unable to embrace uncertainty.

I have been unable to wrap my mind around the idea of selling our house in DC even though it would offer us a significant degree of financial freedom. I have been unable to embrace the wintry weather and the isolation on the coast of Maine even though we have missed some of it by spending five weeks in Europe. And I have been unable to embrace the leisureliness of Sam’s self-discovery.

I have been so paralyzed by embracing the word embrace that I have delayed, and rewritten, this post for days. Therefore I am admitting that change is uncomfortable for me. I am selecting self-honesty as a better watchword for the next six months.

I will try and be more honest on this blog.


Shipping is a word with a very physical connotation (to ship a package). But it’s also shorthand for “going public” or “putting something out into the world and not just talking about it.”

In that regard, it relates to honesty and to decisiveness. Procrastination, perfectionism and fear have kept me from shipping more in the past.

Choosing ship means that I will free myself from editorial perfection (although I reserve the right to demand perfection from my clients) and I will procrastinate less. Together, this means that I will ship more.

Specifically, it means publishing several eBooks this year (one based on this blog, another on a topic related to my book writing business and another as a fundraising project). It means getting more speaking engagements, launching a new online program for Voxie Media and so much more.

Write, Honesty, Ship: I can embrace that.

Photo: the view from the top of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park. Honest disclosure: we did not climb up. We drove to the top and I clambered up onto this boulder.

4 Responses to Debbie’s Three Words for 2014

  1. robb bunnen January 8, 2014 at 3:10 pm #

    Love how honest and out there you are . not easy stuff. I’d throw one more word out there for you : brave!

  2. Debbie Weil January 8, 2014 at 9:40 pm #

    Robb, cringing a bit about this post so really appreciate your feedback. xo


  1. What We Can Do On a Rainy Winter Day | Gap Year After Sixty - January 11, 2014

    […] by this prospect? Because I’m trying a new approach for 2014. I wrote about it recently. My three words for 2014 are Write, Honesty and Ship. As I explained, I was going to use Embrace as my second word and tell […]

  2. Incremental Change: Debbie’s Gap Year Wrap-Up | Gap Year After Sixty - September 3, 2014

    […] – began as an aspiration. I struggled with it, especially “uncertainty” (see this January post). The biggest realization for me is that I can honestly say our tag line is now closer to the […]

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