There’s something fun I’m trying for 2018, but first we need to address the giant elephant in the room.

I failed.

Remember how I set a goal to release four EP’s in 2017? I didn’t make it. I only released three — Someone to Blame, Rain, and Fighter. (Click here to listen to all of ‘em.)

The truth is I let the holidays sneak up on me. We also moved into a new house in November, so life was crazy, and I didn’t plan accordingly.

But was it really a failure? Of course not. Do I wish I had released all four EP’s? Yes. Did I miss the goal? Yes. But I released way more music than 99% of musicians out there. So that’s still a win.

I still plan to release that fourth EP, it’s just going to be late. 🙂

Setting goals is great, but only if the goals force you to do things you really want to do, like make music. I missed my goal for 2017, but I made a crapload of music, and I’m proud of that.

My 3 Words for 2018

Chris Brogan does this thing every year where he chooses 3 words for the year. He writes:

“The words that you select for My 3 Words are meant to serve as lighthouses to guide you through foggy moments. To that end, it’s important to pick words that have enough meaning that you’ll snap your perspective into alignment with them and build out your days, weeks, months, and year accordingly.”

I love that idea. Goals and resolutions can get tricky. I have a lot of the same goals I had in 2017 (Play the Ryman, get to my goal weight), so I don’t really need to set new goals. But I do need to adjust. I need to take a look at 2017. What worked? I want to do more of those things in 2018. What’s broken? I want to fix those things in 2018.

With 2017 still ringing in my ears, I sat down yesterday and mapped out my 3 words for 2018. Here they are:

STORY — I really connect with Don Miller’s writing about the elements of story, and how a good life is made up of the same components as a good story. There are parts of my life where I could be living a better story. Connecting more deeply with people. Taking risks. Dancing with my fear more than hiding from it. I want to live a better story in 2018.

BUFFER — A lot of the stress I experienced in 2017 came from poor planning and execution. I have a hard time working on something today if it’s not due for another month. So I put it off. And I put it off. Until the thing is due tomorrow and I’m scrambling to finish it. I’m a big fan of working under pressure and setting deadlines, but there’s a difference between working well under pressure and being lazy. I need to spend more time doing the important things BEFORE they come urgent (Stephen Covey’s Quadrant 2 concept). Life feels so much less stressful when I finish things well ahead of time, giving myself a buffer, room breathe. This will help with stress, but it will also make me far more intentional and proactive, allowing me to accomplish more of the things I want to accomplish.

HEALTHY — This one is pretty cliché, but I need to focus on being a healthy person in 2018. I realized recently that I first need to think of myself as a healthy person before I can really make lasting changes to how I approach food and exercise. I want believe I am a healthy person — emotionally, spiritually, and physically. If that can sink in, the behavioral changes will happen. But no amount of behavior modification will change my heart, or change how I feel about myself. Gotta work from the inside out.

Story. Buffer. Healthy.

Those are My 3 Words for 2018. What are yours?

Leave a comment and let’s make 2018 a great one.

Joe Gilder
Home Studio Corner

  • Ben Holmes

    Hi Joe. Great idea to start the new year.
    For me the 3 words will be. Focus: Connect: Share

    the deadline and make sure that it doesn’t slip. As you know i want to
    release my new album in March but that looks like it is going to be
    tight due to work deadline so it is time to FOCUS. Work wise too, Jan
    to March is going to be crazy busy…time to FOCUS

    I want to use 2018 to collaborate with as many people as I can both in
    business and music. Every time I work with someone else I learn new
    ideas in the process. It is a like a double win.

    age old adage still runs true….”The more you give the more you shall
    receive”. I aim to do as much as I can to help others in the knowledge
    that by doing so, at some point, I will receive that help in return.
    Don’t forget VIPers I am still available to record drums for you, free of charge, if you are a signed up HSC VIPer.

    Have a great start to 2018 everyone.

  • Dave Komel

    All right, I’ll play too..
    My 3 words for this year:
    1 – Practice. Not only in skill building, which is always a good thing, but also doing what I say to its best possible outcome. Lets see how THAT works!
    2 – Finish. All sorts of projects, both musical and otherwise, are kickin’ around the house. “Yeah, I’ll get back to them.” Well this year, There will be a constant effort (and struggle) to actually finish what I start in a much more timely manner.
    3 – Simplify. Lose all the “extra” stuff. I’ve been “spring cleaning” forever! Time to put the pedal to the metal. The wife is actually looking forward to this one…

    Thanks for all you do for us Brother! Makin’ music this year is gonna be sooo much fun!

    • Love the idea of Finishing stuff. It’s powerful! Focus on ONE project at a time. Don’t let yourself work on any other projects until that one is finished. Have fun!!

      • Dave Komel

        Did you get the album I sent you?

  • Dewey Paul, Jr

    Hey Joe,

    I love it. I really like that you are not always focused on just music. You have a lot of really good “Life Hacks,” I like to call them. They always challenge me, and make me think. My three words for this year are:

    1. “Direction.” I want to be less concerned about my perfection, but really paying close attention to the direction that I am on as a man, husband, and father.

    2. “Community.” I really want to make an effort to be a bigger part of my community. Whether it be my church community, my neighborhood, or around my city, I just want to be more involved with encouraging people to connect with one another.

    3. “Real.” This year, I want to make myself a lot more transparent with those around me. So often, we all put up walls around who we are, because we struggle with junk, and are afraid that if we expose ourselves, people will not accept us. I have found that when we open up, it is usually a great suprise how many other people in our lives start learning to be vulnerable, and we learn that we indeed, are not alone. Great article, Joe.

    “Stay Inspired,”

    Dewey Paul, Jr

    • Love this, Dewey. And everyone has junk they struggle with. You can be the brave one who brings it up first. 🙂

  • EJ Velez

    Only one word for me so far: healthy.

  • Art Davis

    3 Words to Define 2018 Goals

    Act – I have an amazing ability to over plan and
    strategize. I live in Texas and there are a million “sayings” in Texas. One is
    “fixin’ to”. It means preparing to
    act. I spend a ridiculous amount of time
    “fixing to” release my first EP, launch my mixing and mastering business, setup
    a true website …. The list goes on and on.
    For 2018 I will set some specific goals and ACT. Make them happen.

    Own – It is a cliché I know but I need to own my expertise.
    I spin in circles afraid that I’m not as talented or knowledgeable as, say
    Andrew Scheps about mixing. Well guess
    what. I’m not. But that doesn’t really matter. I have been making music for 57
    years, been playing professionally for 48 years, I’ve composed music for
    orchestra, chamber ensembles, jazz-rock fusion, written music for 6 plays and
    many dance ensembles, written over 100 songs, and play trumpet, piano, guitar,
    and sing. I hold a Bachelor of Music degree
    from North Texas State University focusing on analog and digital synthesis and
    taught the Graduate Seminar in Computer Music. I’ve spent the last 2 years
    studying recording and mixing. I am an expert covering a very broad array of musical

    Commit – I need to commit. I’ve spent way to many years waffling
    around dreaming and scheming and playing it safe. The only way goals turn from dreams
    to reality is by committing to willing them into existence.

    • Love this, Art. And I grew up saying “fixin’ to” in Mississippi. 🙂

  • Mark Young

    Hi Joe. My three words are:
    Health – I really need to take control of my fitness and what I put into my body as well as exercising more effectively
    Stoicism – take control of the controllable and worry less about what might never happen
    Ship – Finish my music and get it out to the world. Stop aiming for the impossible, get it done and move on

    • “Stop aiming for the impossible.” Love that, Mark.

  • Joe – thanks for the inspiring words. You may have missed your 4 EP goal, but man the three you out out kick ass! I put Rain on in the car yesterday and my 9 year old son was like, “oh, I love this song!”… well done, cuz at our house you’re competing with Taylor Swift, Niki Minaj, and John Mayer!

    My 3 words for 2018 are:

    1. Basics: do what works – sleep, walk, moderate consumption (of everything), and stay on the path that I know works for me.

    2. Connect: in person, be intentional with my relationships and listen to people. Put the phone down and listen.

    3. Forge: continue to make the life I know that I want to have down the road. Relates to Basics in that I need to continue to do what works! Home Studio Corner is part of that.

    Thanks for what you do, what your write, and the music you make. Happy new year!

    Chris C.

    • Tell your 9-year-old I owe him a fist bump. 🙂

  • Don Hamer

    Great article Joe. This makes me want to put my 3 words down. Also I signed up for you new business course. This year is the year I finally take the full plunge into my home recording studio business! Thank you for all you do and I hope 2018 is a great year for all of us!