The 90-day plan for getting things done, really works

Saturday September 08, 2018 Written by Published in Virtues in Paradise

One of life’s small pleasures for me is setting a goal, then accomplishing it.


Research shows that 90 days is the ideal span of time in which to accomplish goals. Without them, it is all too easy to slip into chaos - running around like a headless chook.

When I create a 90-day plan, putting three to five goals in a circle in my prayer journal, it clarifies my priorities. Each goal lists a few steps to accomplish it. 

A goal can be anything that is meaningful to you - that gives you a sense of fulfillment. It could be as diverse as “Meet friends for coffee twice a week” to “Finish painting the kitchen” to “Complete three chapters in my new book.”

When facing a major project, setting goals can relieve anxiety, assuring us that, little by little, we are getting it done. A Japanese technique and book called “The Kai Zen Way,” recommends taking tiny steps toward a goal, to dispel overwhelm. Businesses find that micro steps actually accomplish more, because procrastination is diverted. Lao Tzu, founder of Taoism, said, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” 

Celebrations for special events here in paradise require enormous work and planning, from making costumes to learning action songs. Planning and rehearsing, fabric choices and fittings usually begin months ahead.

The less time we allow ourselves to accomplish things, the more anxiety and rushing we create. Procrastination feels like dragging a 50-pound sack of potatoes behind us. It weighs on our minds, even when we sleep.

One of the benefits of a 90-day plan is that it helps us to build balance into our lives. We need work and play, purpose and leisure, and unstructured, unscheduled time as well. It is important to plan a “Me Day” to go fishing, or swimming or lying in bed with a good book or a video, or just hanging out with friends. Or nothing. A day of puttering can restore our sanity. So part of my plan includes days of nothing - freedom from any expectations, including my own. 

When I ask a retired friend “What have you been doing lately?” he replies with quiet pride, “As little as possible.” At some seasons of life, less really is more.

Here’s a challenge for you, one I will take on as well. Choose a chore you have been putting off, that if it were done, would give you mental spaciousness and emotional satisfaction.

For me, it’s sorting my jumbled medicine bin. When I organised one with soaps, lotions, shampoos and toothpaste, what I had put off for months took me less than 15 minutes. Same with our messy pantry. Creating order took 12 minutes. The benefits in quickly finding what I’m looking for make a great reward. 

If you want a super challenge for your 90 day plan, set a goal of healing a long-held resentment or conflict with a family member. Whether you do it alone, by taking responsibility for your own part of the problem and rectifying it, or actually contact the person, healing can occur.

All of this does wonders to “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a tranquil spirit within me.” (Psalm 51:10) and (Baha’i Prayers) Setting goals for how we use our precious time and energy helps us focus on what we truly want in life.

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