Creating a 90 Day Action Plan

Today I would like to introduce you to Erin O’Brien from Activate28 who has prepared this guest feature on making plans and taking action. Take it away Erin!

Creating a 90 Day Action Plan

Can you believe we’re halfway through the year? Whether or not you explicitly set New Year’s Resolutions, we all have goals we’re working towards, consciously or otherwise.

We set New Year’s Resolutions for the entire year, but come June, we’re often dismayed by our lack of progress. Partly that’s because a year is too long, too hard to capture. Some people plan by months, yet a month is too short to see any real progress. For many people, three months (or 90 days) is the perfect time for planning. Businesses operate in four quarters, many schools revolve around four terms, and even nature conforms to four seasons. Four plans a year of 90 days each works for us as well.

Planning 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 fulfilment of planning.

Here is a step-by-step guide to create a 90 Day Action Plan.

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. Get them out on paper – if you like mindmapping, this is ideal.

Step 2: Choose 3 goals to focus on during the next 90 days (yes, just three!) and write affirmations

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”

[Writing a chapter of your book]: “I’m holding the manuscript to Chapter 3 in my hand” or “Yippee! Chapter 3, done and dusted!”

[Looking for a new job]: “I’m feeling professional in my new role” or “Check out my new business cards!”

[Holding a charity event, inspired by Rhian!]: “The teddy bear’s picnic was a massive success” or “The look on those kids’ faces at the picnic was priceless”

Step 3: Choose a virtue (a.k.a. value) that will support you

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

You can look at Rhian’s list of values here or a list of virtues here. Which ones resonate with you best? Choose one that best represents what you need.

Step 4: Break your goal into smaller steps (bring out the Post-it notes, baby!)

This is the time for SMART goals. Whereas Step 2 was quite abstract and based on emotions, Step 4 is about clear, defined actions that you can see.

Let’s look at the example of getting a new job. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed with all the steps involved – looking at job ads, updating CV, deciding what sort of work you want to do, getting ready for interviews. Using Post-it notes makes it feel less overwhelming.

Choose one step, write it in capitals at the top of the Post-it note. Then write sub-steps underneath.

Instead of focusing on “finding a job”, simply choose one sub-step such as “Find computer file of my CV”.

Step 5: Put those Post-it notes on a timeline

Working backwards, put the Post-it notes on a timeline over the next 3 months. You can use a calendar, or create your own timeline (or you can email and she’ll send you one).

Feel overwhelmed? This is quite normal at this stage. I always say it’s better to be overwhelmed and to see objectively what is in front of you – than to have it in your head (accompanied by the anxiety and fear of the unknown).

If your goal has an immovable deadline (such as a work project due) you’ve got some options:

·         delegate some actions

·         cut down on your other commitments

·         lower your expectations (accept an 80% standard rather than 100%)

Got a goal with a deadline that’s not set in stone? You might need to:

·         extend your ideal deadline

·         lower your expectations (aim for 80%) so you can still get it done by that deadline

Step 6: Take regular action (and stay accountable with an action partner)

Taking regular action is the key! This is also the hardest part for most people, so having an action partner can help you stay accountable. If you can’t find an action partner, I’ve created Daily Action Power Hour  – a community of likeminded people who take daily action on their goals.

Step 7: Pause for applause!

All the experts agree that rewarding your effort (as well as the outcome) is essential. It’s about progress not perfection. Sharing your successes with someone else is even better. If you don’t have people around you who support you, come join the activate28 community (email for links). Let us be your support crew.

Doing a 90 Day Action Plan helps make big dreams possible. Do you feel overwhelmed or uncertain working on your own? Do you want an extra level of accountability? You’re welcome to join the next 90 Day Action Group, starting on 1 July. We have people of all ages and backgrounds who meet fortnightly. It’s online so you can join us from the comfort of your own home. Each session includes a pause for applause, some time focusing on values and most importantly, an Action Power Hour (so you actually get stuff done towards your goal while online). Find out more info

As my way of thanking Rhian for her support, I’d like to donate $40 to her chosen charity for every person who signs up to 90 Day Action Plan. Rhian has chosen Retina Australia.

For your chance to win a spot in the next 90 Day Action Plan group check out Activate28’s monthly photo competition here. Ends tomorrow so get in quick! Unleash your creativity, have some fun and you could be mapping out your next three months with Erin by Sunday!


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