How To Use Three Wins for Change and Transformation



“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.” — Andy Warhol

One of the most common questions I get with Agile Results, is whether to keep listing the same Three Wins each day, each week, each month to reinforce them, or to change your wins (which changes what you focus on.)

The quick answer is — name Three Wins you want to focus on. 

This may be a repeat, or it may be something  entirely new.   The power is when you use Three Wins to focus on change and transformation.

The Value is in the Change

Your environment is constantly changing.  There are always new things to work on, whether at home, at work, or on yourself.  The Three Wins or outcomes are there to provide you focus so you can get specific. 

Setting your Three Wins should really be a dynamic thing where you achieve your wins and move on. 

Your Three Wins help you keep your eye on the prize. 

You will do a bunch of things each day, whether you list them or not.  Chances are you don’t have to list “brush your teeth” on your “To Do” list, but you’ll do it anyway. 

Use your list of Three Wins to help direct your attention to where you need it most and to remind you what’s important.

Change is a moving target, by its very nature.

An Example of Using Three Wins to Change in a New Direction

One of my readers asked me about how she could use Agile Results to be a better housewife.  I gave her an in-depth answer, and I figured it would be worth sharing in raw form here …

The most important thing to remember is these are wins or goals, not your tasks.

I’ll elaborate a bit so that you can really do this well … it’s important.

You are close, actually, when you say you would like to focus on different things next month.  That’s really the key. 

The Three Wins or outcomes are there to provide you focus.

Example of Three Wins for the Month

What would be your three wins for the month?

For example, maybe your Three Wins for the month are:

  1. Be a better housewife
  2. Learn the Tango
  3. Make More “Me Time”

By writing them down, you give them focus.  They aren’t tasks. 

They are your inspired goals.

Example of Three Wins for the Week

Now, let’s try a week.  Let’s say that your three wins for this week might be:

  1. Daily chores take half the time
  2. The living room is a great experience
  3. The house is a clean and pleasant place to live

They all support your bigger goal of “Be a Better Housewife”.

Just having your three wins you want to achieve for the week written down, will help you focus and direct your time and energy.

Example of Three Wins for the Day

Now, let’s really dive in to the day.  Let’s say that today is the day you really want to tackle cutting your chores down to time. 

Your To Do list might look like this:

  • Make breakfast
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Do the laundry
  • Clean the kitchen

But then you add your goal or win to the top:

  • Daily chores take half the time

<< Notice the “space” here – it’s some breathing room between your wins and your tasks >>

  • Make breakfast
  • Clean the bathroom
  • Do the laundry
  • Clean the kitchen

With your goal at the top, it will help guide your tasks. 

Use Your Chores as Chances for Improvement and Change

The real beauty is that not only do you create clarity around what you want to achieve, but you can use Three Wins to help you improve anything you do.

For example, if you want to cut your time down, you might use timeboxing.  Maybe you decide you’ll spend no more than 20 minutes on the bathroom because after that it’s diminishing returns. 

So then you ask yourself, if you only have 20 minutes to spend on the bathroom, what are the best things to do to clean the bathroom.

Along the same lines of cutting your time down, you might decide that if you re-arrange the kitchen, you can optimize it for the things you use the most, and again, save a lot more time each day by doing so.

No matter all the tasks you do throughout the day though, your key checkpoint is that your chores take half the time.

The key is to simply identify the three wins you want for the day, and work towards those.  They are your wins (not your tasks) so use them to inspire you. 

Use them to help focus your energy and prioritize your time.  Use them to feel a sense of progress and to feel good about your accomplishments.

Break Down the Bigger Things into Smaller Chunks of Change

When one of your wins is really tough, you might have to break it down.

While certain tasks may not go away, you simply use your wins/goals/outcomes to add focus, and to help create more value.

The value is in the change.  That’s the big idea.

There are bunches of things you do on a daily basis that you don’t need to focus on.  For example, even though it’s not on your list, you brush your teeth or get dressed.   The idea of writing down the Three Wins you want to achieve is about getting intentional and helping remind you what you wanted to accomplish.

Use Your Three Wins to Rise Above the Noise and Stay on Track

It’s easy to get distracted throughout the day, so your simple lists of Three Wins will keep tugging you back to what you really care about.

The way to stay on track is to have your simple list of Three Wins:

  • Three Wins for the day
  • Three Wins for the week
  • Three Wins for the month
  • Three Wins for the year

The more you practice identifying three wins and trying to achieve them, the better you will get.  You will also start to get creative in how you do your tasks because now you have a goal in mind. 

When you have the goal in mind, and you know what’s valued, you can find short-cuts. 

Value is the ultimate short-cut. 

You basically stop doing the things that distract you from what’s valued.   This will gradually free you up from self-imposed burdens or chasing things that just aren’t worth it.  Again, you’ll get better at this with practice.

In this way, your three wins should be a dynamic part of your life. 

They are always changing because you are always asking yourself, what’s are the three wins I want to accomplish?…

and those Three Wins help you shape your destiny on a daily basis.

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  1. Keys here for me are:
    1. The quick answer is — name Three Wins you want to focus on.
    2. The value is in the change. That’s the big idea.
    3. The more you practice identifying three wins and trying to achieve them, the better you will get.

    The crown jewel is this: These “…are your wins (not your tasks) so use them to inspire you. Use them to help focus your energy and prioritize your time. Use them to feel a sense of progress and to feel good about your accomplishments.”

    Booyah, baby!

  2. I simply love the idea of The three wins for the day/week/month. I am usually upbeat, JD – but the last two-three weeks have been somewhat overwhelming. This post will help me regain my balance.

    Thank you so much for the motivation!. Happy holidays!

    Love, Vidya

  3. @ Jimmy — Great precision.

    I think that once you know that the value is in the change, and the story is in the change, then carving out wins each day, each week, each month, each year makes a lot more sense.

    For example, a win would not be “exercise today” (unless, that’s the change.) For me, the win would be to “complete a set of burpees with good form” (since so far, I haven’t done either, and that would be a change.)

    @ Vidya — When I’m down, sometimes my best wins are as simple as “have a great breakfast” or “find a story that lifts me.”

    Sometimes I just let things run their course, until I’m ready to spring to action again.

    The quote that often helps me weather the storms the most is, “This too shall pass.”

    Best wishes on regaining your balance.

  4. This is an interesting twist to what I have seen before.

    I think people often don’t consider the more short term wins, and now when I think about it that may be what holds the more long term wins back. Correct focus at the correct time, that’s what you need. So if the short term focus is not there then maybe the long term focus suffers.

  5. @ Frederik — Well put, it is often the lack of short-term wins that holds the long-term wins back.

    There are three things that work well together:
    1. Segmenting by time or chunking achievements
    2. Stacking up achievements to get the compound effect
    3. Balancing the long term view with the short term actions

    Chunking up wins helps you gain more along the way, and enjoy the process. And, by taking the long-term view, you can stack the wins up along a path. That’s how you compound your efforts.

    Momentum is also a powerful thing.

  6. JD,
    This was a fantastic way to begin a Monday. I’ve got a long day and important week in front of me, and now feel oriented. Thanks for always getting down to where the rubber meets the road. And you’re right that this definitely gets better with practice – it does!

  7. @ Aaron — Thank you.

    A long day, and important week is quite the combo.

    You reminded me how each week is a challenge, a choice, and change.

    That’s transformation in action.

  8. J.D., great post as always!

    Just to mention that Jason Selk in his book Executive Toughness: The Mental-Training Program to Increase Your Leadership Performance
    writes about Three Wins.

    It’s about 3 that you focus on for prolonged period of time, and measure your performance for each of 3 every day.

    And BTW, J.D. I’ve just sent you an email to your gmail address, hope you’ll find it interesting enough to reply.


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