There’s a process I have been using for a number of years which I find quite useful for goal setting. I call it my 3 month focus.
I devised it originally because I was having so many ideas, all the time, that it was causing me to get distracted and I wasn’t using my time productively. I needed a simple way to narrow my focus and concentrate on what was really important.
I decided to only allow myself to focus on 3 major outcomes for each 3 month period.
Here’s how I did it:
Why set a 3 month focus?
The reason I use a three month focus is:
- It’s a short enough time frame that I can set goals and see them achieved as well as feel the required urgency to get them done.
- It allows me to evaluate my direction and adjust if necessary every three months. Therefore I can take advantage of new opportunities while remaining focused.
- It narrows my attention so i can make progress in the most important areas. No more than 3 main outcomes/projects at a time
- I also have a 3 month evaluation to make sure the rest of my life (apart from work) is on track too, but more of that in another post
How I choose what to focus on
I’ve developed a template I use every 3 months that asks me the important questions I want to evaluate. You can download it here.
I start off by listing all the projects/opportunities that are currently floating around in my mind including those I am already working on and new ones I have been thinking about. (You could apply this to different business opportunities or different projects within your current business.)
Then for each project I ask myself:
- MUST I do this? ie. Is this something I am compelled to do? I check for this compulsion from inside. Compulsion from outside is not so healthy. I want to be internally motivated, not just doing things because I should do them.
- CAN I do this? This is a check to see if the opportunity is currently open to me right now. Sometimes I may not have the resources or connections. Sometimes the opportunity will partly depend on someone else’s decision.
- Do I WANT to do this? This question forces me to check in with my wishes and desires. Will this project give me life? Is this something I really want to do?
I then look at how many ticks each project/focus has and choose the three with the most to focus on that quarter. Ones I don’t want to do or can’t do inevitably get crossed off the list.
This process leaves me with three clear areas of focus for the next 3 months which I think is plenty. I try to define each specific outcomes for each so I am clear on what I am shooting for.
How to implement your 3 month outcomes
Planning my goals is one thing. Implementing them is another.
I am visual, so the more I can see my goals, the more likely I am to stay focused on them. So I put them in places where I can see them often; in the front of my diary, on the white board on my desk. Sometimes I tape them to the front of the notebook I am currently using.
I read my 3 month outcomes each morning before I start work. I use them when planning my week and my day.
And when I get to the end of the quarter, I evaluate how I’ve gone and then start the process all over again.
Action: Plan some 3 month goals
If you think this process could be useful for you, download my template here and give it a go. Be sure to leave a comment and let us know how it goes.
Image used courtesy of Reportergimmi under Creative Commons license.