The Three Wins Approach: How To Make Work More Meaningful



“Win as if you were used to it, lose as if you enjoyed it for a change.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

Here is a simple way for a better day, for the best of your life.  For now, I’m calling the technique, “My Three Wins.”

It will help you focus, prioritize, and channel your energy on your highest priorities each day.

You can think of your personal victories, or achievements as wins.  It’s a fun way to hack at the outcomes that you want to achieve each day.

And it’s a way to rise above your To-Do list.  You can still do your To-Do list, but bubble up your Three Wins to the top to remind you want you are aiming for.

Plus, your your Three Wins will act as a North Star or guiding light through the chaos in your day, and help inspire and pull you forward through your day.

The Rule of Three Applied to Your Day

You can use this technique, immediately. Here’s “the making of” leading up to the idea of “My Three Wins.” 

I needed to find a way to simplify the idea of thinking in terms of “outcomes” or results, not just doing tasks or activities.

I also needed a way to automatically bake in the idea of The Rule of Three.  I also need to simplify the idea of connecting your outcomes to your values

I also wanted to make it super simple to feel a sense of progress

Lastly, I wanted to add the fun factor, and help you unleash your inner-hero.

My Three Wins

“My Three Wins” is the phrase that stuck.  It’s one phrase to bind them all.  It’s a simple one-liner reminder that is very easy to start your day with. 

Simply ask yourself the following question the question:

“What are Three Wins I want to accomplish today?”

People like to win, and winning makes it a game.  And games are more fun, when you set the rules, and in this game, you do.

Every day, you choose your adventure and you choose what your three wins will look like.

Example of My Three Wins

You can think of three wins for the day, three wins for the week, three wins for the month, three wins for the year.  For example, for today, your three wins that you set out to do might be:

  1. Win a raving fan.
  2. Write the code to change the world.
  3. Have a great day (yes, this is a challenge and a win for many people.)

Those are mini-goals and mini-adventures in action.  Whether it’s hit your high note, give it your best shot, write the song to make the whole world sing, lead your amazing team on a SWAT-like mission,  make somebody’s day, or simply savor the parts of the day that make you feel alive, YOUR world is your oyster.

Set Your Focus for the Day

The beauty of calling out your wins for your day up front, is that you set your focus and you add clarity to what’s important to you.  You also make it easy to deal with and respond to the ambiguity and anything that comes your way, throughout the day.

When you think about Getting Results the Agile Way, simply think “My Three Wins.”

If You Set the Rules, You Win the Game

If you remember that, then you instantly and immediately take control of your destiny and each day is a chance to write your story forward.

This is also a simple way to set the rules for your success, and if you set the rules, you can win the game.

Use My Three Wins for Your Weeks, Months, and Years

You can also use My Three Wins for your weeks, your months and years, too.

This will help you use The Rule of 3 and think in Three Wins:

  1. Three Wins for your day
  2. Three Wins for your week
  3. Three Wins for your month
  4. Three Wins for your year

This will give you the ability to zoom in and zoom out.

If you want to zoom in, simply focus on your Three Wins for today.

If you want to zoom out, simply focus on your Three Wins for the week, or Three Wins for the Month, or Three Wins for the Year.

With that in mind, go ahead and ask yourself…

what are your Three Wins for today?


  1. Every night, I sit with each of my kids and we talk about their day before I tuck them in. I love the idea of asking them what were their “three wins” that day.

  2. Thankd J.D. for this simple and effective rule !
    I’ll keep in mind setting the rules of the games I’m in.
    The nice things is that this can be easily applied to almost anything.

  3. hey Jd
    very nice post 🙂
    you are right, some people don’t even know how to enjoy their day
    even that’s a simple goal it can certainly provide a very good mood boost:)

  4. I really like this idea, I’m always one for simple yet practical. I’ve noticed that writing down your goals on paper increases the probability of them happening dramatically, at least for me. I’m trying this…now just need to figure out tomorrow’s three.

  5. @ Vered — You’ve got them off to a great start, for life.

    @ Patrick — You really can apply it to anything. It’s a way to chunk things down, while staying focus on the end in mind.

    @ Alik — I think every platform needs an app, and the beauty is it’s principle and pattern-based, so the practices ride above platform nuances.

    @ Farouk — Thank you. It’s simple but powerful, and I think it’s a reminder how deciding what our experience will be goes a long way toward shaping it.

    @ Nick — You’re not alone. I know a lot of people where writing things down makes a big difference, myself included.

    I think it works because it forces you to turn stream of conscious into a statement you can articulate. Once you can state it, it’s easier to remind yourself, both verbally and visually, and if you attached some emotion to it, then emotionally.

    And the fact you wrote it down gives you a visual reminder and a mental snapshot that plays in your mind, whenever you ask yourself the question … “So what was it I was going to get done today?”

  6. Hi JD .. love this – so simple .. I used to play the game in London – gettting to work .. I used to work out the easiest and simplest way for me to get there (or back) .. sometimes I walked the whole way .. or just waited for the next bus (perhaps two or three next ones) .. then I’d get a seat and a comfortable ride! Not too keen on the tubes in the rush-hour. Then I’d always ‘win’ and be relaxed and not stressed.

    I was thinking we all need this approach to life – especially when people get ill .. yes we first have the shock, then we should mix in & help others through their troubles, as that will feed off to uplift our own sadness … and help us through the duration of those times and not treat it as a pain: it’s not the patient’s fault …

    Everything has a sunny-side up – just turn it over … cheers Hilary

  7. @ Hilary — So true — one of the best ways to lift ourselves is to lift others … and helping people when they need it most, helps the best.

    > Everything has a sunny-side up – just turn it over
    I like that … it’s like turn that frown, upside down.

  8. I like this idea and see it’s application in a classroom. Even if I am the one decding what the three wins are (however this could be allocated to a student from time to time) it would be great to have daily or weekly ‘wins’ to focus on. I see them possibly being individual and group ‘wins’, especially for the students who may have very few ‘wins’ or the ability or behaviour to reach few ‘wins’ yet can share in a group win. As a teacher I have seen many (and used) many tools and strategies to reach this same end, yet I see this as being so simple and achieveable for all students, across all areas of the curriculum. Thanks.

  9. @ Jodie — That sounds like a great move. I bet you will create a great arena of passion and fun. Kids love to win, and it helps build confidence for life.

  10. Hi JD,

    I’m using this information.

    I wrote a much longer explanation, then accidentally wiped the slate clean. Arrgh.

    Anyway, one of my 3 wins for the month is to help build great Christmas memories for my grandkiddos.

    A win for (next) week — enjoy a “special” time with the oldest grandchild

    A task I completed today was to make a reservation for my granddaughter and me. We will enjoy Christmas Tea at an English Tea Room next Friday.

    So, I think, from your explanation that next Friday, one of my wins will be — Wow (granddaughter)with her first English Tea Room experience.

    Am I getting the concept right?

  11. @ Yvonne — You are getting the concept right.

    Defining what success will look like up front helps us on many levels. It helps us do a quick check on whether it’s worth it. It helps us carve out a more fruitful path. It helps us know when we’re done.

    Most importantly, it helps us create, capture, and share the stories in our life.

    Best wishes on your English Tea Room experience with your granddaughter.

  12. I have only been doing this for a couple of days but wow! how it has helped give purpose and value and organization for my purpose (thanks for the reference to Canfield). I can hang my goals on making 3 wins each day and feel I have accomplished something and be proud the next day and feel I am moving forward. Thank you for that! Chip Kelly former coach at Oregon had WTD win the day. My 3 wins is how I win my day. This has been especially meaningful but I get something from almost every post here. Thank you for this idea and thank you for generously giving through this site. I hope to make a difference in the world too…..

    • Hey Paul, great to hear!

      I like to think of the Wins as a way to set a simple “Vision” for my day. It gives me a quick picture, or simple scenes of success to guide my actions throughout the day, toward something that matters.

      That helps me get through the tough stuff.

      It also helps me make smarter trade-offs as things come flying at me as I navigate my day.

      And then to make the journey more meaningful each day, I try to connect my Wins to my values. For example, in almost any scenario I can connect it to learning, which fuels my passion as a lifelong learner.

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