Do you have big goals or dreams for 2019? Goals that may take multiple steps and many months to work toward? Let’s try to intentionally plan the next 90 days so that we can reach those goals and still focus on the things that we love most.
I have a lot of big goals for 2019. But trying to move those goals forward right now and come up with a timeline can be daunting. It’s hard to predict how long some steps will take. Plus, if I try to plan everything out until 2020, I won’t be able to adjust as easily if (when!) the unexpected happens. It’s easy to get off track, get discouraged, and give up altogether.
So instead of planning my projects and calendars for the whole year, I’m looking at the next 90 days. I’m keeping my 2019 goals in mind, and using those to work backward, but focusing on the short term. Taking a big project and breaking it down isn’t rocket science. But looking at what can be accomplished in the next 90 days, and making challenging, but realistic, deadlines within that timeframe? Well, that’s a new way of looking at things.
Instead of haphazardly working on what seems important on a particular day, or what demands our attention this week, there’s a deadline that forces us to think “What am I working toward? What would help me reach that deadline today?”
But this isn’t only about reaching a goal. This process aims to help you intentionally plan your time, so you can focus on the things you love. By planning ahead, you will make space on your calendar to schedule time with friends, to schedule the date night that you need with your spouse. You will spend less time running to the grocery store at the last minute. You will spend less time worrying. Less time debating what to work on next. Less time staying up late to finish a project.
Would you like to join me?
1. Look at your calendar for the next 90 days.
Do you have birthday celebrations to plan? Vacations to schedule? Large work projects that will require late nights at the office? Are the kids off of school? What yearly projects do you have? Consider breaking those down into four quarterly goals, or stepping stones. What can you do in the next 90 days to work toward your goals for 2019?
A. What do you need to buy?
Are there birthday cards or gifts that you can go ahead and purchase to have on hand? Do you have a trip to the beach and know you need a swimsuit? Is there anything that you know you need to purchase or budget for that will lessen your mental load as the event arises? Make a list of everything that you can go ahead and take care of in advance.
B. What do you need to plan?
Planning 90 days at a time isn’t just for the big projects. What are the smaller things that would make your life easier if you planned in advance? Things like birthday parties, errands (groceries, meal planning) and nights out with friends can all fit on the 90-day calendar.
Is there a weekend trip or work trip that you have scheduled that you need to make any final arrangements for (or budget for incidentals)? Schedule some date nights? Evenings with friends that you haven’t seen? Schedule a vacation? Need a night to yourself. Schedule at least a few things that you wish you made more time for. Put them on the calendar and keep those appointments.
In an ideal world, I’d plan my meals for three months at a time. Then I could already have my grocery list ready for the week, and whether my husband or I went to the store, we’d know what we needed. That’s next-level, black-belt meal planning, though. I’m still driving around in the parking lot trying to find a parking space at the dojo.
2. Mark off any vacations, conferences, or other days where you already have things planned on your calendar.
I like to use a separate monthly wall calendar so I can really see what my time looks like here. One that doesn’t have my doctor’s appointments or other daily events on it, but where I can mark off the “bigger picture” items.
3. Choose one or two big projects/goals and break them down into manageable, quantifiable chunks.
Take some time to brainstorm here. Set a timer for 10 or 20 minutes (or longer) and think through what steps you need to take. Write everything down, even if it is small.
If health is your goal, pick one area for the next 90 days and focus on that. Focus on meal planning, or consistently going to the gym three times a week, or meditating consistently. Try to choose something that you can measure and schedule. If you have a big goal like starting a new business, or organizing the house, etc. Then break that down into the next sequential steps or manageable steps that you can take.
4. Keep breaking down those steps.
Keep breaking down your steps until you have quantifiable steps that you can schedule on that big calendar that you used in #2. That way, you can move your deadlines around if you need to, easily seeing where you need to make adjustments.
For instance, I am working on a rough draft of a novel right now. It’s about three-quarters complete, maybe a little less. My big goal for the year is to send it off to agents and publishers and see if I can get it published, but that feels overwhelming and involves a lot of steps that I’m not quite ready for (researching agents and learning how to write a query letter, etc.). Staring at a sheet of paper with “2019 – Publish Novel” isn’t helpful or specific enough to move me forward. But after taking that goal, brainstorming the steps that need to happen and breaking those into smaller, quantifiable steps with deadlines, it becomes a much more attainable goal. (As attainable as publishing a novel can be, at least!)
In this case, there is a sequential step I have to take next — finish the novel. In the next three months, I plan to finish the draft and then make the first revisions to the whole novel. I’ll give myself 60 days to complete the first draft. I have some other obligations on my calendar in those 60 days that I know will slow down my progress. Then I’ll have 30 days to read through it all and make any large, structural revisions. Deadline, March 31. I can manage deadlines and goals within that time frame. After that, I’ll have additional revisions and begin looking for agents to submit my book to, but I’m not going to schedule those steps yet, because I want to make sure I meet my first deadlines.
5. Schedule your deadline AND time to work toward those deadlines.
Most importantly, once you have those deadlines on the “big picture” calendar, schedule some time each day or week to work toward those deadlines. Treat them like you would any other appointment. Put those times on your daily calendar, so they’re in front of you each day/week. Deadlines are meaningless unless you also have a plan for how to reach them. But, remember those days you blocked off of your calendar? Keep those in mind, too. If you’re going on vacation one week, see if you can need to adjust a deadline or schedule additional time the week after your vacation to make up for the time you were gone.
For instance, I have a weekly or daily word goal to keep me on track to finish my novel in 60 days. I know it will take at least five hours a week of uninterrupted, focused time to reach that goal. So I can go ahead and pencil in those hours each week.
Every time I plan this way, my projects stop feeling overwhelming and start to feel possible. There’s a certain energy that comes to a project once it’s been broken down into steps. I can’t wait to get started on it!
What are you working on for the next 90 days? What goal would you like to work toward and how can it be broken down so that it feels manageable, energizing, doable?
Wishing you a few moments of clarity amidst the chaos,
Thinking of giving the 90 Day Plan a try? I’d love to hear how it’s going! Are you stuck? Not sure of how to break down your goal? Let me know! Message me on social media or send me an email – I’d love to help!
Loved reading this because I believe in breaking things down so you’re less overwhelmed. For me, my next 90 days are only about simplifying my life and easing my stress in any way possible. I’m trying to make 2019 a year about me and thriving without a huge goal in mind. The last three years have been crazy so I need a year where there isn’t much on the list but to enjoy life. My next 90 days is about health, rest, time with friends and family, and so much more. I am excited to make this a focus for the year because it’s needed after the craziness we have experienced the past few years.
“Thriving,” “simplifying,” and “easing” are goals in and of themselves! It can take just as much energy and clarity to make those a priority and to make room for “no” in your life so that you *can* simplify and keep your calendar clear (or more full of things that help you thrive). And bravo for recognizing what you need and making it happen! You’re off to a great start!
This seems like such a manageable way to tackle your goals!! Good luck on the novel!! What are you writing about? My goal that I will be tackling for the next 90 days is to work on learning more for my blog. I recently started my blog and I’ve noticed how much there is to learn about hashtags, pins, twitter, SEO etc. It is a bit overwhelming, so I want to break down each area of information into smaller chunks and tackle one chunk at a time. When I look at everything that I want to learn about it becomes super stressful and ends up making me not even start, but if I break it down then I will feel more at ease. I recently spoke with a friend of mine and we talked about doing like a backwards plan, where I plan out my big goal for my career and then go backwards and plan the steps out that I would need to take by each age to get there. Just talking about making my goal & breaking down those things into smaller chunks, makes me excited to plan that out!
There is *so* much to learn about blogging, above and beyond the nuts and bolts of getting a site up and going. Not to mention the fact that everything is changing quickly. That said, you are definitely on the right track! Breaking that learning process down into smaller bits is a great strategy — and it will let you practice each bit as you go along. I think you just gave me an idea for my next 90 day plan!
Thank you for wishing me luck on the novel, Kendall! I need it — and coffee! It’s a character-driven short story that turned into a novel–no aliens or zombies have made any appearances (yet…).
Cassie Dowling of Topaz & Sapphire
Absolutely loved reading this post. It’s so much less daunting thinking of goals in 90-day increments than for the entire year. I also loved your advice on planning for birthdays or trips in advance! This is genius, especially for birthday or special occasions that you know of already!
Right? Things always come up, but at least I know I am trying to block off time on the calendar for things that allow me to connect with friends and family. I’m so glad you enjoyed the post!
These are great tips! Sometimes it’s a bit overwhelming looking too far out so planning in shorter spurts is def helpful!
Indya | TheSmallAdventurer
I’ve never been good at goals, although I do think I’m getting better at it as I grow older. I love the idea of only focusing on the next 90 days – and making smaller, more achievable points to “hit” in that time frame – as it makes the whole process a lot less daunting. Definitely going to give it a try!
Great! I’d love to hear if it works for you!
Crystal // Dreams, etc.
These are great tips! Breaking down my long term goals into goal that fill smaller periods of time has always been the way to go for me.