The Simple Power of a 90 Day Goal

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I’ve always loved goal setting, but it took me a while to find a framework that held me accountable and motivated.

When I left my job in April this year, I was excited to have more time for my writing career. But by June, I hadn’t followed through on my promise to myself. The transition of switching jobs was taking longer to sink into my brain than I expected. I quickly jumped into my new role, but writing went by the wayside as I navigated the transition.

That’s when I decided to create a 90 day goal. It started off as a simple goal: to quit alcohol for the summer. I wanted to make a lifestyle change that would boost my productivity and I felt that alcohol (and caffeine) were messing with my brain.

Knowing that I was focusing on productivity, I then had to answer: what am I trying to get done?

The Framework

I didn’t research 90 day goals or how to set them, I intuitively created a process that worked for me:

1) Consider making changes to your lifestyle that will help you accomplish your goal
These changes can be a part of your 90 day goal (aka no cellphone after 8pm, no social media on your phone, etc).

2) Decide what you want to happen by the end of your 90 day goal
Make sure you have full control over the results. For me, the goal isn’t “sign with a literary agent” but rather it’s what activities I should do to bring me closer to my goal, such as “edit my book and query 5 agents.”

Why It Works

Writing with my nephew Evan :)

Writing with my nephew Evan :)

There’s immense value in setting a promise to yourself and following through on it. This increases your confidence and the effects can be felt even on day 3, 4, or 5. 90 days is long enough to create change, but short enough to see the finish line in sight. A lot can happen in a year, especially if you break it into four 90-day quarters. 

What Should Your Goal Be?

I wanted to get back into writing new content, so the first part of my goal was setting an 800 daily word count goal. I also wanted to edit my novel this summer. These came through to me as “pings” of what I need to get done, aka what would be most impactful as I reach for lifetime goals.

Here are prompts to identify your goals:

  • How do you want to feel in the next 90 days? 

  • How do you want to spend your days?

  • How do you want to earn your income? 

  • What are you available for?

  • What are you no longer available for?

  • Who do you want to be surrounded by?

  • What is one habit you want to get rid of and why?

  • What habit(s) make you feel good and you want to do more of?

  • What is one habit you’d like to introduce into your daily life that will make you better? 

  • What experience or habit would you like less of?

Here are the changes I made: 

✅ No alcohol

✅ No caffeine 

✅ No social media on my phone

My lifestyle changes ended up going beyond this. I started making fruit smoothies for breakfast and found a fitness routine that worked for me. I ended up sleeping better than before. It turns out alcohol and caffeine disrupt your sleep cycle, and sleep is pretty important for productivity!

Writing at Oak Street Beach 🏖️

Writing at Oak Street Beach 🏖️

Writing Career Goals

In early June, I set these goals for how I’d spend my summer:

  • Write 800 words 4 days per week of a new novel = ~38,400 words total

  • Create an editing roadmap for “MT” and finish it

  • Write and share blogs on my website (one per month)

  • Share a downloadable resource on my site for other writers to use 

  • Submit to 20 contests on Submittable

  • Tweet every Wednesday for #1linewed

The Results

  1. My second novel is now 55,796 words, exceeding my goal by 17k+ words. I set word count gifts to myself which was a fun way to celebrate milestones along the way

  2. I created and finished an editing roadmap for my first novel “MT”

  3. Wrote a new blog every month:

    1. Creating a Writing Schedule That Works

    2. Self-Editing: How to Edit a Novel

  4. Created and shared a downloadable resource for other writers:

    1. Writing Submission Tracker for 2019

  5. Tweeted every wednesday for #1linewed

  6. Submitted to 20 Submittable contests. As a result, two of my stories are being published by 42 Stories Anthology!

And by quitting alcohol and caffeine, I saw an improvement in many areas of my life: sleep, skin, mood, and energy. My favorite change was feeling mental clarity. I was sleeping so deeply that I had the energy to think straight — without the caffeine sugar drop. 

What’s next?

Fall officially started this week, so I’m gearing up for a new 90 day challenge. If you’re interested in setting a writing goal (or any goal) and want support and accountability, you can join my private Instagram group by sending me a message on Instagram.

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Autumn is a time of renewal. It’s the perfect time to drop old habits and inhale some fresh, new accomplishments. Plus, it’s the final quarter of 2019 before setting entirely new goals for 2020.

PS: I was looking back at my goals in January 2019 and I wrote down, “Leave my job this year?” My favorite part was that I added the question mark, which I now feel represents that weight of not knowing how or when it would happen. Several months later, it was the right time for me to leave, and since then, I’ve been able to work more powerfully toward my vision. I hope everyone finds this clarity for their goals, too.

Happy fall everyone 🍁