“Lack of direction, not lack of time, is the problem. We all have 24-hour days.” - Zig Ziglar
Setting goals can be really motivating, but they can easily get out of hand. If you’re like most people, you may take some time at the beginning of the year to set a resolution or major theme that you plan to drive the rest of your year.
By April or May, it’s likely that goal is a distant memory.
There’s a better way! Aiming to reach the finish line in 90 days, instead of 365, is more effective at ensuring your goal isn’t forgotten and you actually follow through.
Like a yearlong goal, planning is key, which is why we created the Ink+Volt 3-Month Goal Planner. It’s specifically designed to help keep focus on a small set of goals over a focused 90-day period.
Why does a 90 day goal planner work?
Many of us are guilty of taking more time to daydream about our goal than actually following through. Planning is fun! But the follow-through can be overwhelming, causing us to abandon it completely after a while.
Focusing on a shorter period of time is like a sprint instead of a marathon. We tend to think about that metaphor in the opposite way most of the time. Be the turtle, not the hare. But focusing on the sprint has its benefits:
- You probably have a better idea of what your life will look like in the next 3 months than the next year. Focus on what you know and stick to that.
- It’s less likely you’ll lose steam if you set a 90-day deadline. You can see the finish line from here!
- You won’t bite off more than you can chew. If it feels like you’re setting more achievable goals in 90 days, it’s because you probably are. We have a better concept of what is realistic in the shorter amount of time.
Planning out 3 months instead of 12 will really help you to define the goal and be super clear about what’s possible -- which is essential to setting an achievable, realistic goal.
Strategic planning in a 90 day goal planner
Creating a focused plan for the next 3 months can be intimidating. When we set a resolution at the beginning of the year, we figure we have 12 months to get there — that’s a long time! But if you reduce that timeline by three quarters, you can’t just sit around and hope that things happen. You have to start working right now in order to hit your timeline.
Strategy is crucial, so when you sit down to outline exactly what you want to accomplish, ask yourself these questions:
- How am I defining this goal? Sometimes we lose sight of what we’re doing because we didn’t adequately define it in the beginning. Be clear about what you’re setting out to do, so that you take the right steps to get there.
- What are my recurring tasks? If you can nail these down and plan them out, you can better organize your time for everything else that will come up.
- Where am I right now? Take some time to acknowledge your starting point. It’ll make reaching that finish line that much sweeter. Sometimes we don’t fully grasp how much we can grow in a short period of time.
- What does this achievement look like, both in a perfect world and in reality? Nobody ever talks about the grey area that exists with goals. We’re often hard on ourselves, and see our work as either “success” or “failure”, without regard for the many great things that can happen in between.. Explore what the ideal outcome looks like, but also the entire realm of possibilities. Maybe you set a realistic goal and a stretch goal, so you have the chance to succeed -- or succeed even more.
Next, set regular check-ins
Each week, make some time to reflect. This is even more important when you’re on a time crunch. You can’t afford not to spend time reviewing and planning the next step. It doesn’t have to take hours and hours each week. A 15-minute thoughtful review of progress and plans can get you on the right foot for the week.
Ask questions like:
- What did I achieve last week?
- What did I do that wasn’t helpful?
- Where did I lose time?
- What areas need my attention this week?
- Does my plan need to change?
Check-ins should help weed out what's not helpful, and keep us on track doing what is. Even in three months time it’s okay to change course or drop something that doesn’t really seem to make sense. We are always learning and evolving, and that can change our plans. Successful people are willing to adapt when needed.
When you’re monitoring your progress, think about these factors:
- What does my next week look like? What about the next 30 days? The next 60?
- What kept me motivated this week? How can I continue that?
- What key milestones have I reached? Are they leading in the right direction?
Perhaps the trickiest part about working on a 90-day timeline is setting deadlines.
Because you’re on a stricter schedule, you won’t be able to put them off like you would if you had a longer timeline; your deadlines need to be viewed as more urgent and will require dedicated, consistent effort to reach.
This can work in your favor, however, because the timeline and urgency will force you to be precise and specific about each step of your process. You’ll need to be clear about what needs to get done, and by when, so that each step can roll into the next.
You may want to set buffers around your deadlines, to avoid one small setback disrupting your entire 90-day schedule. For major milestones, it helps to give yourself a little flexibility in exactly when it will be achieved; however, daily tasks should be carefully plotted and the times you set for work should be carefully guarded.
Parkinson’s Law, a time management theory, says that an event will fill the time you allow for it. If you want to meet a deadline by the end of the day, carve out some time specifically for it. No one else will prioritize your goals; you have to be the master of your hours.
Setting a timer is a great way to keep yourself accountable and work through any distractions.
Wherever you’re keeping track of your tasks, deadlines, and goals, make sure to take detailed notes. You’ll be glad you did when life gets a little hectic.
Using a 90-day goal planner is smart because you get a built-in system to help you plot out your process from start to finish. However, you can record your plans and notes anywhere that will be useful and accessible to you. The most important part is that you store your information in a way that is easy for you to refer to and build on.
Achieving a goal in 90 days is all about accountability, so keep good notes on the steps you’re taking to get there! Record what you’re doing that’s working, what’s not working, and what milestones you’ve reached.
Consistent daily progress is the best way to achieve any goal. Fast-track your progress by using a 90 day goal planner to achieve a short term goal, or to speed ahead on an aspect of a longer term goal.
You can accomplish big things, even with limited time. What is your goal?