Reflection is such an important part of the learning process. There was a time in my life when I was all about speed and moving forward—getting to the next thing, checking it off, completing the next task. As I’ve gotten older and wiser, I’ve learned to focus on the balance of slowing down to go faster. I prioritize making time to reflect on what’s been learned or how a skill was executed. I think about what needs to be learned so that I can be and do better.

As I have reflected on the end of each year since 2014, I decided on three words to guide me through the next year. This is a practice I learned from Chris Brogan, and one that has proven to be beneficial to me both personally and professionally.

Here’s what Chris writes about choosing your three words:

Choose any three words you feel will guide you forward. I can tell you a few things about this:

  • Don’t make it a phrase. “Publish the book” is a terrible choice. “The” is wasted.
  • Try to make the words actionable. “Expand” is better than “bigger.”
  • The more utilitarian the word can be, the better. These words have to be your compass.
  • Stick with the three words all year. Every time I’ve changed one a month or two later, the year mucks up. I can’t explain it. But I can report it.
  • Years where I’ve tried “fancy” words with layers of meaning, I lost the thread. Use plain words, maybe.
  • The words don’t have to mean anything to anyone but you. Don’t worry about explaining them.

My mission is to encourage and empower others along their journeys, and I’m excited to do more of that in 2020. I’ve chosen three words as my guideposts for the year, and I’m excited to share them with you.


In April of 2018, I turned 50 years old. I was feeling old, soft, and not at all like the college athlete I once was. I bought myself a birthday present, a diet template from Renaissance Periodization. I had seen the amazing transformations on Instagram and wanted to give it a shot.

On the Monday after turning 50, I started the template. I followed it for four months and lost 15 pounds. It wasn’t the weight loss that was my greatest accomplishment. The battle that was won was a mental one. It was sticking with something and seeing it through, even when it was challenging and emotionally draining.

Once school started, I got off the diet plan a bit and working out became less consistent. Here we are about a year later, and I’m ready for a new challenge. On January 6, I started the #75hard mental toughness challenge. It will require great consistency to complete it.

For the challenge, you have to follow a diet, work out, drink a gallon of water, read, and take a progress picture every single day for 75 days straight. If you miss a day, cheat on a day, or don’t fulfill the parameters of the challenge, you have to start over. To learn more, check out Andy Frisella on Twitter or Instagram, or the hashtag #75hard on both social media channels.

I’m ready for a mental challenge that will also challenge me physically, and I’m planning to journal during the challenge so that I can reflect on my journey after the fact.


The second word I’ve chosen for 2020 is Empower. As I reflected on 2019 and thought about what impact I want to have in 2020, my commitment is to be very intentional about my mission to empower others.

How do I define “empowering others”? I want to help other people believe in themselves by encouraging and equipping them with what they need to be successful. I want to see potential in others, find the gap, and help them acquire what they need to reach their potential. By empowering others, I will give them an opportunity to lead and help them to advance.

Brian Tracy prioritizes those whom we should want and need to empower on a regular basis:

  1. Those closest to us—family and friends
  2. Those we work with—bosses, employees, and colleagues
  3. Those we interact with in our daily lives—bankers, people in stores, stakeholders, and others

I don’t want to overlook any opportunity to make a person feel validated and important, and I will create opportunities to share my wisdom (from mistakes I’ve made and lessons I’ve learned) and help others to uncover their awesomeness.


The third word for 2020 is one that I’ve been working on for most of my adulthood. Growing up, my parents didn’t talk to us about money. In fact, I still don’t know very much about investing, and I’m just learning how to really budget my money. While I’ve never been someone to spend extravagantly or on luxury items, I’m in a place where I want to save as much money as possible for investments, emergencies, and retirement.

I’ve been reading and following bloggers for a long time who write about frugal living and ways to create and stretch a budget. It’s almost like a game I want to win or a treasure hunt to be solved, and I’m finding ways to decrease spending and increase income. I’ve been more like the person on the bench, enjoying the close-up view of the game—and now I’m ready to get in the game. I also recognize that my focus for 2020 on consistency will also be valuable in making budgeting successful in the new year!

I hope these words have inspired you to create and share your own words for 2020. If so, please share them in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook

Jennifer Hogan is an assistant principal at Hoover High School in Hoover, AL. She is the 2018 Alabama Assistant Principal of the Year and one of three finalists for the 2018 National Assistant Principal of the Year. Visit her blog, The Compelled Educator, and follow her on Twitter at @Jennifer_Hogan.


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