My 3 Words for 2018

Published on December 31st, 2017

“Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.” This phrase is overused both in airplanes safety videos and in self-help books. It’s a simple yet important reminder that we are of no use to others if we’re unable to help ourselves. Unfortunately, despite understanding and agreeing with this philosophy, 2017 was the year that many of my closest family members (myself included) almost drown trying to save others. In fact, it was one the inspirations behind the Leaky Life Raft poem I wrote during one of my darker moments right after yet another suicide attempt.

While a part of me wants to inventory the many reasons I felt justified in taking the approach that I did, I believe that it’s healthier for me to close the door on 2017 and focus on how I can change my approach (both regarding my perceptions and procedures) going into 2018. To that end, rather than setting New Year’s resolutions, I’ve found the “3 Words” strategy popularized by Chris Brogan to be more effective. There is something about high-level intentions that I prefer over concrete goals because it gives me more flexibility when faced with life’s ever-changing circumstances. I also like to share them publicly for two reasons:

  1. To hold myself accountable after publicly declaring them.
  2. To share in the hopes that you may be inspired to follow a similar process.

Without further ado…


In short, I’m tired of saying “I’m tired.” As a former athlete that managed to practice for 1-3 hours a day for 10 years in college, it’s hard for me to come to terms that I’m not superman anymore and that I’ve pushed myself physically, emotionally, and mentally for too many years.

In the book Essentialism, Greg Mckeown tells the true story of a very successful business person that burned the candle at both ends while globe trotting to manage his businesses and help several non-profits. Despite warning signs starting to appear, this person (like me) tried to double down by trying to outsmart his body by boosting nutrition and experiencing with supplements to try and counter balance the effects of becoming more and more run down. Ultimately, it didn’t work. After finally agreeing to take a few weeks off from work, the man’s body shut down, and it took him several months of sleeping 12-14 hours a day to recover back to a normal state of being.

I do not wish to repeat this person’s mistakes, and yet, I feel like I came damn close. Through a combination of work stress and family crises compounding over the past five years, it’s time to put on my oxygen mask for my survival. To that end, setting my life up to regain my physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual vitality will be my primary focus. Sure, I still have responsibilities, and I don’t have the luxury (nor the desire) to just walk away from the world for a few months. However, I need to curb my ambition(s) and ensure that I’m in a place to pay it forward before I can move forward on said ambitions.


My spirituality has taken a back seat this past year because I was living in fight or flight for a majority of it. Ultimately, I allowed these seeds of fear to grow unabated, and the effects harmed myself, my relationships, my energy, etc. I was fortunate enough to have a few moments in my life that I would consider a spiritual awakening, and in 2017 those experiences and memories felt very distant… sometimes completely inaccessible. This is unfortunate because as I’ve learned time and time again that sometimes the “worst” things that happen to us are sometimes a blessing in disguise.

To that end, even when life throws a hurricane my way I intend to turn towards my inner world and change my choices, my perceptions, and my strategies instead of either trying to control the outside world or lust for things to be different.


This is an odd word at first glance, but I had the good fortune of spending some time up in Deer Isle, Maine with my brother performing some demolition on his newly purchased house. I like many people get caught up with the ridiculous notion that all progress must be in the forward direction and that it’s better to stick with what’s there versus ripping it all down and starting over. While I don’t plan on making rash decisions or taking reckless actions, I am going to be more open to changing course or even stopping a course of action altogether. Ultimately, just like one needs to rip apart an old yet functional kitchen to get that dream kitchen that one has always wanted, I think I’m at a point where I’ve been putting off some tough choices and taking bold yet necessary actions to take things to the next level.

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About Rick Manelius

Quick Stats: CTO of Contact Mapping. Author of Winning the Lottery Within. Graduated from MIT in '03 (BS) and '09 (PhD). Life hacker and peak performance enthusiast. This blog is my experiment in creative writing, self-expression, and sharing what I've learned along my journey. For more information, read my full bio here or contact me.