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 three 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 Three 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.
Related Article: How To Boost Your Motivation When You Most Need It
How I Choose What To Set My Three Month Focus On
I’ve developed a template I use every three months that asks me the important questions I want to evaluate.
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? i.e. 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 Three 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 focussed 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 three 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 Three 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.
About The Author
Susan Jones is the founder of ReadySetStartup.com, helping aspiring entrepreneurs develop both the strategy and psychology to create winning businesses. She lectures in Entrepreneurship at Swinburne University and is passionate about empowering women entrepreneurs. You can grab a copy of her free Startup Blueprint: 5 Steps to Launching your 6 figure business.