One deadline that fits all? Does it make sense!
The deal with 90 days cut off may seem quite arbitrary, right? How could you apply the same time limit on a set of very different types of goals! Our everyday life suggests that’s not wise. It’s such an artificial construction.
Today we will try to address this and answer some thought-provoking questions. We can promise you an interesting exchange since the crux of the matter is quite a counterintuitive one.
“Cogito, ergo sum”
Although we have been developing our system for more than 10 years with the intent to help anyone under all circumstances we never stopped questioning its basic rules. It’s an ongoing and vigorous process of objectively weighing on all the new cons and pros and then meticulously testing it all.
We base our conclusions on the experience – ours as well as that of the users of the “GoalBuddy” system. And while we often quickly reach an agreement (e.g. the need for long-term and short-term goals), some other times the right answer is much more elusive.
One such case is exactly how short the short-term goals must be.
In the crux of it
90-day goals are one very tricky concept.
But let’s look at the 30-year vision for the most important aspects of our lives (health, family, career, finances, etc.). The way we advance on these is that we are gradually approaching the given long-term objective by setting a new target every quarter.
We call these consecutive steps action goals.
They were the last parameters of the “GoalBuddy” we zeroed upon after exhaustive research and then a painful trial-and-error process.
In particular, Niki had for years felt a strong resistance to such an inflexible restriction.
“The truth is born in the argument”
Today he will play the role of “the devil’s advocate,” asking the tough questions. Ivan is on the other side of the argument relying on our rich experience over the years.
Let’s get started, it will be very interesting!
Niki: Why 90 days and not until the result is reached?
A recent case is the international promotion of our goal-setting system. We received inquiries about the book from countries as different as Russia and Japan. So, right now we are focused on how to organize the publishing in these two as well as few others.
Will it happen in just 3 months? Of course, not. We have no idea how long it will take. Plus, the outcome is far from being fully under our control.
There are too many factors we are not aware of that can affect the whole process. How long it would take to translate and edit, and then to print it is something that there is no way to know in advance.
Then why set a 90-day goal? Shouldn’t we define our goal of action as such that it aims at achieving the result outright?
Ivan: Our goals do not exist in an isolation
We’ve seen that type of mistake too many times. We too fell for it on numerous occasions.
Let’s not look at the big picture for now.
Just think about it! We rarely have the luxury to go for one goal only (especially on the first of January). What we usually do is engage with 3 to 5 short-term goals.
So, let’s imagine what would happen. If we set the goal to finalize the editing, proofreading, and translation in 8 months but at the same time we are in the middle of a 6-month financial goal coupled with yet another one for career advancement then the thing will quickly descend into complete chaos.
We have one basic rule – the 90-day review. At the end of each quarter, we carefully analyze what has transpired so far so that we can do better in the next quarter.
If there is no such a key revision day, it will be an impossible thing to manage a diverse mix of goals and deadlines. And that’s something that almost never works out in the end.
Nikki: What if I knew from the very start that it would take years?
Some time ago, when he first decided to regain control over his finances, he took the class of Stoyne Vassilev.
It was a long road setting up a strategy and then executing it for a substantial period. The class was 6 months which included trying out different apps and techniques.
It makes sense to ask yourself – what is the point of setting a 90-day goal?
Ivan: The point is to minimize the number of times you go in the wrong direction
Before you are about to explore for the first time something new the best approach is to set a goal for research.
But there is some risk involved here too.
There are many people who end up staying for too long at this stage. We hear the following excuse over and over again, “We need to learn as much as possible”. So, they keep reading books and taking classes, drawing and re-drawing new plans and strategies.
It may seem to be due diligence but everybody else knows it is, in fact, the typical “analysis-paralysis”. Once you set a deadline and the specific actions to be taken the 3 months are more than enough to successfully test your strategy and then act accordingly.
When the goal is to get our feet wet
After a personal finance class, you may have decided to get into real estate, invest in stocks /or crypto-currencies/. After climbing the learning curve there must be some form of trial, aka concrete action.
Among our favorite goals are those for experiments. There is no guarantee that you are on the right track unless you give it a try first.
Of course, it might very well be the wrong turn. But the good news is that if the goal is set as 3 months one, at least you will have been on the wrong path for no more than 90 days.
In reality, you have wasted neither time nor effort
The 90-day goals are designed in a way that you regularly sit down and analyze how you did. And if there are lessons to be learned then the result of the experiment is multiplied.
Not only have you finally kicked it off, which is progress on its own, but you have also got the opportunity to make an informed decision on how to proceed.
Nikki: What if I reach the goal in no time?
A while back, his goal was to thoroughly study the crypto-currencies. He had so much to read that it would take him several months. But then an unexpected opportunity presented itself.
But Ivan suggested someone who was an expert in this field. This person took the time to answer all of Niki’s questions in just a couple of hours. This turned out to be an invaluable perspective straight from an insider. Plus, Niki spared himself the 3-month effort – he knew what to do much sooner and with considerably less effort.
So, why are these 90 days? Won’t you lose momentum if everything is resolved quickly? What do you do for the rest of the time?
Ivan: “The three goals” rule
Let’s go back to the fact that goals are very much interconnected. You have 3, a maximum of up to 5 goals for the quarter. Invest your energy and time to act on all of them most efficiently.
If you manage to complete all of your goals for the 3 months you can take on a couple of new ones. This is the only exception to the rule.
But to be honest, we have never witnessed anything like that. Usually, people have trouble wrapping things up earlier than expected.
Nikki: I have a 30-year vision for health. What’s the point then of having a 90-day goal to exercise?
Exercising for just a few months won’t do you any good in terms of good and lasting health benefits.
Some goals are meant to stay on our list indefinitely and require a steadfast attitude of ours. But then the logical question arises – does a quarterly deadline makes any sense?
Ivan: The goals for building a new habit play a leading role
We can look at these goals as separate projects. We aim at creating the habit of playing sports regularly. Some studies suggest that to firmly establish something new in our daily routine we need to do it repeatedly for 3 weeks without any interruption.
Things get a bit slower when it comes to weekly routines or something we do every month. But even in these, the 90-day goal has its positive role.
Once you successfully build the habit you can switch to autopilot. For example, physical exercise becomes an instinct that can serve you well for many years.
Let’s say that, for one reason or another, you dropped a good habit. Then, to successfully restart it you will need a goal for that. Another case is when you are about to try a new type of physical activity or sport.
Employing quarterly goals will allow you not to underestimate or neglect such important goals as a healthy lifestyle.
Nikki: Well, is there anything of significance in life that can unfold in just 3 months? Why do we see it as the optimal period?
Strictly speaking, there are very few things like that. Even the seasons are no longer than 4 months. So, why do we have to stick to it?
And on top of that, many goals won’t require that much time. Not to mention those situations when we know for sure how long it will take to complete a given task.
Ivan: There is no way you would know how long it would take
We may think otherwise but there is no guarantee at all.
Something may look like no more than 2 months’ job, or we can get it done on a specific date. And yet, it is seldom the case.
That’s why the way to organize our time, our efforts, to focus our thinking, and to allow ourselves to consciously analyze our path is the following. Re-arrange your goals calendar at regular intervals, leaving a day for revision before moving on!
We finish some of those because they are more or less of the stand-alone project type. On the other end of the spectrum are those that we keep building up. These are the type of “stepping stone”. And then there is the third set – those we keep working on based on what we’ve learned.
The 90 days are simply the timeframe of our efforts to stay organized and focused – the indispensable qualities for achieving any goal.
And now, the ball is in your court
If you use “GoalBuddy” or just have first-hand experience and an impression of how deadlines affect goals, then write it down in the comments section below.
Would you feel constrained by the 90-day goals?
Let’s have this discussion continue but this time we do it together.
We would like now to give our thanks
… to all of you who joined our campaign “December – a month of dreams and hope”, buying the book “The 4 keys to achieving goals”. We have donated 20% of the book proceeds to two charitable causes. We also doubled the amount to BGN 500, and Albena, a member of our team, contributed another BGN 200, so the total amount donated reached BGN 700.
As the saying goes, it might be a little but it’s from the heart. Our first drive to engage people in a charity has been a resounding success. It’s quite an experience for those who took part to not only work on their success but to help others make life a bit easier. We will do it again soon. Thank you very much and see you soon!