The three words that will define me in 2024 (What are your words?)

If you caught Tuesday’s newsletter you already saw the “future reflection” exercise that I do instead of New Year’s resolutions to drastically increase the likelihood I actually follow through with my goals (and avoid “Quitter’s Day”).

But I get it..this exercise feels like homework. A lot of it. And who wants to do this much homework the first week of the year?!

So how about instead of writing 1000 words about your goals this year, you instead only had to write 1?

What Word(s) Will Define You In 2024?

In addition to the future reflection exercise (I left all the questions at the bottom of this email for you), I also intentionally choose a single word (or three) that will define my year. I make sure these words are placed in front of me multiple times every single day so I reprogram my brain to actually believe I am these things.

The key with this exercise is to choose words that do not define you yet.

It would be super simple (and lazy) of me to say that the words Ambitious or Focused will define my year. But those are already adjectives I feel confidently describe me. All I have to do is more of the same….except more of the same will only lead to the same results.

However, I have goals for 2024 that require me to step well outside my comfort zone and stretch my capabilities. And I’m willing to make the necessary changes – however much discomfort they may create – because I know outside my comfort zone is where my potential is waiting.

Here are the three words that will define my 2024 and why I chose them.




I chose LIGHT because 2023 was a Heavy-Ass year. So much stress, so much uncertainty, so many new burdens. I’m physically, mentally, and emotionally tired of feeling like I’m wearing a 100 pound weighted vest all day long. So I choose to become light this year.

I chose FLEXIBLE because with the heaviness of 2023 has come a lot of lethargy and inertia. And years of progress very intentionally improving my mobility & flexibility specifically for my ninja warrior training has all but disappeared. I’m dealing with more chronic pains, more tightness, more cramped muscles. And I feel like I’m trapped inside my own body. So this is the year I choose to become flexible again.

I chose CONSISTENT because I’ve been anything but. I know you probably assume from my newsletters & podcasts that I’m Mr. Consistency. Showing up to every workout. Only eating what I’m supposed to with no cheating. Getting the right amount of sleep every night. But because of the relentless stress of 2023 many of my healthy habits have fallen apart. So this this is the year I choose to become more consistent again.

So I ask again, my friend:

👉 What word(s) will define you in 2024?

Remember 👉 the key to this exercise is answering everything in the past tense as if you’re writing one year from today.

  • What is the date today, how old are you, and how do you feel about where your life is right now?
  • Describe the current state of your health from the following perspectives: Physical, Mental, & Emotional.
  • How are things going with your career? What accomplishments are you the most proud of this year?
  • How would you describe the current state of your finances? What financial goals did you achieve this year?
  • How would you describe the quality of your most important relationships? (Spouse, family, close friends, etc)
  • How would you describe the quality of your social life outside of work?
  • What hobbies/interests/passions did you pursue this year? Any notable accomplishments to share?
  • Regardless of your specific beliefs, how would you describe your relationship with your spirituality/religion this year?
  • What positive impact have your actions had on the world this year?
  • How would you describe the current state of your work-life balance?
  • What regular habits & behaviors (whether daily, weekly, or otherwise) contributed to all of the areas above?

Zack Arnold (ACE) is an award-winning Hollywood film editor & producer (Cobra Kai, Empire, Burn Notice, Unsolved, Glee), a documentary director, father of 2, an American Ninja Warrior, and the creator of Optimize Yourself. He believes we all deserve to love what we do for a living...but not at the expense of our health, our relationships, or our sanity. He provides the education, motivation, and inspiration to help ambitious creative professionals DO better and BE better. “Doing” better means learning how to more effectively manage your time and creative energy so you can produce higher quality work in less time. “Being” better means doing all of the above while still prioritizing the most important people and passions in your life…all without burning out in the process. Click to download Zack’s “Ultimate Guide to Optimizing Your Creativity (And Avoiding Burnout).”