90 days. Three months. An annual quarter. It’s the sweet spot of goal-planning.
Why? Because it gives you just enough time to take some action + get results.
And yet it is not nearly enough time where you can afford to procrastinate.
What’s more is that – hey, you have SO! MANY! THINGS! you want to accomplish over the span of a year. It’s hard to focus on what you need to do to make all of those things happen, all at once.
My favorite part of goal-setting in 90 day chunks is that you can laser-focus on plotting, planning + seeing through one or two very specific, fireworks-worthy end results.
So how do you get started? How do you decide which areas to focus on + which actions will take to get there?
First, you need to start at the beginning + like MLK, you will declare that you have a dream.
ACT AS IF :: CLAIRVOYANT EDITION
In 3 months from now, you want to be further along in your business than you are today. 👈 said Captain Obvious.
What isn’t so obvious, though, is what that looks like for you.
You may know you want to make progress. You may even have targets you want to hit like “make 1K” or “grow by 1K”.
But you need to put pen to paper as to what that actually looks like.
ACTION ITEM :: Map out what your average week currently looks like.
Got it? Good.
👉 Now you’re going to schedule what you want your average week to look like… in 3 months from now.
What do your day-to-day operations look like?
What kind of work do you spend your time doing?
Where do your clients fit in? How many hours of the week do you want to have dedicated to client work? What about developing new products? Or working on collaborations?
Design what your perfect world looks like 3 months now – BOOM!
YO’SELF VERSUS YO’SELF
You can compare yourself against other people. Meh.
Or you can compare yo’self against yo’self. Yesssss!
So pick up the sheet you just filled out with your current week versus next quarter’s week :: what’s the difference?
What “disconnect” or what is missing that you have to account for?
Connecting your expectations to your reality isn’t hard. But it DOES require planning.
By positioning your reality + your expectations side-by-side this way, you can easily identify what you need to focus on to get to where you want to go.
Maybe you’re looking to score 2 new design client.
Perhaps you’re happy with how many clients you currently have. What you want is to switch up your packages + eliminate that one thing you hate doing from your offers.
Maybe you’re aiming to diversify + increase your income streams.
Each of these expectations need to be acknowledged as being the priorities of your next quarter. THAT is how you make things happen in the next 90 days :: by aiming towards them.
ACTION ITEM :: Make a list of the 3-5 things you want to change/improve/grow over the next 3 months.
FOCUS ON WHAT MATTERS
Now that you know what your priorities are, you’ll need to reign in which areas you need to focus on to make those happen.
Why bother? Because a plan of action is waaaaaay easier when you have a frame of reference for the next 90 days.
As a freelancer, you’ll find yourself working within the following 4 major areas of focus ::
1) Your OFFERS;
2) Your MARKETING + PROMOTIONS;
3) Your GROWTH + BOTTOM LINE; and
4) Your BRANDING + ONLINE PRESENCE.
The more focus you dedicate to one area, the more concentrated you can generally expect your results to be. The more areas you expand your focus to, the more divided your attention will be.
Regardless of how wide you decide to cast your net, these are the 4 key areas you’ll find your time, energy + focus dedicated to.
For instance, those new design clients you wanted to sign on? That means you’ll be spending time PROMOTING yourself but you could potential change up your OFFERS or perhaps amplify your ONLINE PRESENCE.
Wanted to spend less time doing on specific task? Seems like you want to spend time + energy on re-BRANDING + re-packaging your OFFERS.
What about the boss looking to increase those income streams? Try expanding your reach for GROWTH + YOUR BOTTOM LINE but how you do that… well, you could be creating a new OFFER, maybe you’ll increase the number of affiliates you’re MARKETING or perhaps you’ll be building up a whole new hustle.
NEED HELP FIGURING OUT HOW TO DO THAT?
Think of your 3-5 things as the destination. These 4 key areas are the mode of transportation you’ll use to get there.
They may not detail the exact path you’ll need to take but you’ll see the direction you need to take to get there. Knowing that direction makes the rest much easier for you to figure your way out.
You now know what you’re headed towards.
You see where you’re going + you know what direction will take you there.
So we’re done here, right? Wrong! Because this part right here? THIS is the most important part.
ACTION ITEM :: Brainstorm a list of all the things you COULD do to help you achieve the goal you set for your area of focus. Jot down everything that comes to mind – big or small.
Now is not the time to think about how realistic or likeable a specific approach is. Just list everything that comes to mind because creative thinking begets creative thinking. The best ideas often come from the most “out there” starting points.
Brainstorm. Write. And list til you can’t list, no mo’!
Done? Kay! Because this is a two-part task.
ACTION ITEM :: Review your list + highlight or circle the tasks you want to take on over the next 90 days. Once you’ve narrowed down the action items you want to take on, schedule them into your next quarter by giving them timelines + due dates.
Now, before you start filling your schedule with enough To Do items to make yourself cry yourself to sleep in 2 weeks from now, realize that not all action items are created equally.
Some tasks will be quick to do. Some will take longer. Others will actually have a learning curve or require the cooperation of others. Likewise, some tasks will pay-off better than others. Be sure to consider the scope of the task before you commit to it for the next 90 days.
The point here is not to overwhelm yourself with things to do. Rather, create a checklist of things that will barrel you towards your desired end result.
The aim here is to make sure you always have something you can be working on + towards in the next 90 days.
Shiny Object Syndrome is a legit thing. All the planning in the world can’t save you from the distractions that will – I assure you! – will happen.
Plus, there’s that whole saying “no” thing. To stuff you actually reeeally wanna do.
New things come to light. Can’t-pass-up opportunities show up. Urgencies are brought to your attention that make you completely forget WTF you were doing before the proverbial shit hit the fan. So what’s a boss to do?
For starters, you can be proactive + set a date to check yourself (before you wreck yourself).
Personally? I have a standing appointment with myself – I call it my Taster’s Choice moment because I don’t get coffee til I do this (+ I ALWAYS get my coffee!). As a result, I spend about 5-10 minutes every morning going over what I did yesterday, what I will be doing today + how that impacts my larger picture for the entire week as well as my overall quarterly goals.
I answer the following questions ::
- Yesterday, I ____
- Here are 3 things I did yesterday to get me closer to my goals
- Yesterday, I struggled with ____
- Today, I will ____
- I am looking forward to ____
- The word that will guide my actions today is ____
This is my way of keeping myself on track + accountable. It definitely works for me… until it doesn’t. Sometimes, I need outside help. (Yups. Even me!)
And you’ll probably need help at some point, too. Whether it is figuring out what exactly your strategy should be or that you need someone to keep you accountable, I can help with that.
Why change your goals when you can just change the plan?
ACTION ITEM :: Foresee that you will veer off track (because you will!) + foresee holding yourself accountable to what you said you would do over the next quarter.
But the caveat is that you need to put a plan in to reach those goals first.
And next 90 days are going to pass you by whether you make one or not! Why not spend them getting shit done?