How to Create a 90 Day Action Plan – Part 1

As we approach the end of the year, it’s easy to give up on those New Year’s Resolutions, or the goals we thought about during the year – I know I catch myself thinking that January is around the corner and I’ll be fresh then and more motivated to tackle my goals.

However, there are still three months left of the year, and Activate28 proposes that for many people, three months (or 90 days) is the perfect amount of time to dedicate towards achieving goals. Businesses operate in four quarters, many schools revolve around four terms, and even nature conforms to four seasons.

Planning goals is great, but only if followed up by action. Action makes it real. Action takes it out of our heads and into the world. Action is the fulfillment of planning.

activate28 provides just the recipe for action, the 90 Day Action Plan! I commenced a 90 Day Action Plan in April this year and reaped amazing results.

Over the next few blogs I’ll run through a three part series covering the seven steps involved.

 

Step 1: Brainstorm All Potential Goals

Get all the ideas floating in your head onto paper. Did you know that all those goal ideas floating around in your head are draining your brain? What you need to do is a brain dump! Set a timer for 10 minutes and write down all the goals you can think of.

I used a mind map to get everything out of my head capturing them on paper.

 

Step 2: Choose Three Goals to Focus On

Write affirmations for these three (yes, just three!) goals.

For each goal, imagine where you’d like to be in the next 90 days. Visualise yourself there: How does that feel? What does it look like? Write those ideas down. Then synthesise them into a single sentence.

Next, start playing with the wording. Make sure the sentence is positive (‘is’, not ‘isn’t’), in the present tense (‘is happening’ rather than ‘will happen’) and has an emotional connection for you. Keep playing with the words until it feels right. Less is more – keep it simple. Aim for oomph!

Some examples:

[Starting a business]: “People believe in me and my business” or “My bank account welcomes money from new clients”

[Finding a new place to live]: “My house is my sanctuary” or “Phew! I’m glad to have moved”

[Zest e-Biz example]: “I have valuable products that draw amazing peeps to Zest e-Biz!”

 

Step 3: Choose a Virtue That Will Support You

What positive character trait will help you through the next 90 days? For example, determination? Flexibility? Openness? Assertiveness? Creativity? Choosing one value to focus on gets you through the tough times and connects you to your heart.

Zest e-Biz example:

Discipline – “My life and business is set-up so it doesn’t stall when my baby arrives.”

In the 3 months from April 1st to June 24th I was finishing full-time work, starting maternity leave and attempting to structure my part-time business so that it would look after itself while I took 6 weeks out completely after the birth of my first child. Hence I felt I needed discipline to stay on track to achieve the goals I wanted to manifest.

 

Look out for the next posts in this series:

Creating a 90 Day Action Plan – PART 2

Step 4: Break Your Goals into Smaller Steps

Step 5: Put Post-it Notes on a Timeline

 

Creating a 90 Day Action Plan – PART 3

Step 6: Take Regular Action

Step 7: Pause for Applause

 

Thanks to Erin from Activate28 for the letting me blog in detail about the 7 Steps of the 90 Day Action Plan.  If you’re interested in joining the next 90 Day Action plan you may be able to join the latest one which commenced on 30th Sept if you’re quick! CLICK HERE for more info, or to ask Erin what dates the 90 Day Action plan will be run in 2013.

What is Effective Time Management? – Tips to Achieve Your Goals

What is Effective Time Management - Zest e-BizDealing With Never Ending “Things To Do”:

Have you ever found yourself arriving at a location and stepping out of your car only to realise you don’t remember a single thing about the car trip? Do you have bits of paper or sticky notes with “things to do” dotted all around the house?

The best way I find to deal with my never-ending “things to do” is to write them down on ONE list. Of course it can be difficult to capture everything on the same list as you often think of things to do when you are out and about. But, if you can remember to update your list at least once a day, your mind will thank you for it. If you have an iPhone, the notes app is a great tool to track actions that come to mind while you are on the go. You can also sync it to your email account so that transferring the actions to a master electronic list is easy.

I haven’t come across any great apps for action tracking yet, but would love to hear from anyone who has.

 

Prioritising Your Actions:

The “Urgent/Important Matrix” is a great tool for helping you prioritise your actions. Dr Stephen Covey mentions this tool in his best seller The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.

The Mind Tools website provides a great graphical representation of this tool:

What is Effective Time Management - Zest e-BizSource: © Mind Tools Ltd, 1996-2012. All rights reserved.

According to Mind Tools:

  Great time management means being effective as well as efficient. Managing time effectively, and achieving the things that you want to achieve, means spending your time on things that are important and not just urgent. To do this, and to minimise the stress of having too many tight deadlines, you need to understand this distinction:

  • Important activities have an outcome that leads to the achievement of your goals.
  • Urgent activities demand immediate attention, and are often associated with the achievement of someone else’s goals.

 

Businessballs.com provide a good summary of the “The Urgent/Important Matrix” to get an idea of the different types of activities that would fall into the categories above:

What is Effective Time Management - Zest e-Biz

Source: © alan chapman 1995-2009 (Re-formatted slightly to align with the figure above from Mind Tools).

 

So, in other words:

  1. Work on the “Critical Activities” NOW.
  2. Dedicate time to “Important Goals” specifically spending time to plan how to action them, as well as time actually working on them.
  3. Manage “Interruptions” by consciously minimizing your time spent on them, saying NO to non-critical actions, or delegating where appropriate.
  4. Avoid “Distractions” as these are low-value activities and are unlikely to lead to your success.

 

Planning Your Actions

Once you have dealt with the fire-fighting usually associated with “Critical Activities” – and only the “Critical Activities”, (not “Interruptions” which can get confused for “Critical Activities”) get onto planning your “Important Goals”. The more time you spend planning your “Important Goals” ideally the less actions will fall into your “Critical Activities” – apart from UNKNOWN emergencies or demands of course.

A couple of great tools to help plan your actions for your “Important Goals” are to create a mind map, or a timeline…

Planning Your Actions Using a Mind Map:

A mind map is excellent if you are not quite sure where to start, and have a lot going on in your head. I learnt this strategy while completing the Activate28 “90 Day Action Plan” course.

  1. Write a timeframe down in the middle of the page i.e. 90days (or 3 months) 1st June – 31st Aug.
  2. Brainstorm all the important goals you’d like to achieve in that time.
  3. From each important goal, brainstorm the actions you’ll need to take to achieve that goal.

Although this is a fairly simple overview to mind maps – it is a quick and easy way to visually plan your goals.

Planning Your Actions Using a Timeline:

After creating a mind map, or if you have a fairly good idea of your important goals, create a timeline and block out time & key milestones towards achieving your goals. For example:

  1. Write down the months remaining until the end of the year (or the weeks over the next 3 months to continue with the mind map example above).
  2. Write down any deadlines, or milestones for your important goals.
  3. Block out any time where you already know you are unavailable. This step is CRUCIAL TO SUCCESS. It is often easy to overestimate how much you can achieve in a certain time. A great rule of thumb is to estimate the time it takes to complete an action, then allow double that amount of time as this is more likely how long it will take.
  4. Now block out time (in a different colour or something to differentiate it from unavailable time) to spend on the smaller actions required to complete each of your important goals.