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How I Form 3 Month Goals

How I Form 3 Month Goals

 Forming smart goals and writing them down will help you to achieve goals.

Photo credit: Lance Taylor photography   @lance_taylor4


Forming 3 Month Goals

Have you ever made a bucket list? I made one years ago of all things I wanted to achieve and do. A list of a bunch of places to visit, skills I wanted to learn, and activities I wanted to try. I put 100 different things. Over the next few years I achieved around 3-5 a year and most were not impactful. The list was big and overwhelming and a majority of the items were things that sounded cool, but there was no real passion about the items. They weren’t powerful ideas that caused action.

Recently, I started doing self-reflection when forming goals. I did this to help me to find goals that have meaning and purpose to my life as opposed to a long list of cool ideas.

I am going to share with you the goal formation activity I started doing. You can use this to help you form goals.

Deciding what goals will help make life better is a challenging activity. I identified 8 areas I thought impacted general happiness and quality of life that I could self-reflect on to form goals. Each area I wrote some questions down that I found thought provoking and could help me identify areas where change is needed and that I can create a goal.

Below I will list each area and provide some questions so that you can use them to help you to form impactful goals. Don’t feel limited by the questions I have provided. You can add your own that you feel are important. Think of this as a general guide to help identify areas where change could be helpful. 

This activity will require some time to reflect on the questions and to form your goals. I repeat this activity every 3 months to help me to reassess the last 3 months of goals, form new goals, and to reflect on my life in general. Usually, I spend around an hour doing this activity.

If you plan to reassess goals every 3 months it is around 90 days or 2160 hours you will spend living life and executing your goals. Having a focused plan will help you be efficient and effective with that time.

Here are the different areas of life I reflect on:

1. Relationships

Relationships we form with family, friends, and mentors. Our relationships requires thought because it is how we interact with the people closest to us. We want to make sure we are forming new positive relationships, maintaining current relationships, and eliminating bad relationships. After you assess how and what your relationship needs are you can start to form goals based on that.

A few example questions:

Do I want to get married? Do I want children? Am I hanging with people that have a positive impact in my life? Do I have a good balance of personal time to interaction time in my life? Am I maintaining the relationships of importance to me? How do I interact with people I don't know? Do I like the way people treat me? Are there any mentors in my life I can learn from? Can I improve with how I interact with people?

2. Financial/Wealth

We need money to survive in life unless you want to survive off the grid. If you want food, clothes, shelter, or anything you will have to provide for yourself financially. Freedom is what I think of in this section with wealth you can buy yourself time, possessions, peace of mind, etc. By not having your finances in order you are dependent on others to provide for you. It can strain your relationships, affect your health, and hold you back from achieving other goals.  

A few example questions:

When do I want to retire? Are my financial needs holding me back from other things I want time, possession, career/hobbies/projects I want to pursue? Do I feel secure that my needs are being met? How can I meet my financial needs using my career/passions/hobbies/possessions? Am I living above my means? Do I need to increase income or cut expenses?

3. Career

Career is how you add value to the world. There are a mix of ways where career can impact your life. It will have an impact on how you spend your time, your happiness, and your wealth. It is more than just if you are passionate about your job or not. You need to examine how your career affects your health, happiness, relationships with family and others, the time your job requires of you, wealth, and the environment of your work. All factors of life must be examined when making your career goals and finding a balance that gives you a happy life.

A few example questions:

What do you enjoy doing? If you don't know what things should you try doing? Where can you add value to the world? Do you like your job? Does your career hold you back from other things that are important to you? Do you look forward to going to work? Does your career allow enough time for other goals you have? Does your job provide enough wealth to meet your needs/important wants?

4. Hobbies/Personal development

This category is the activities that make up personal time. The type of things where you can recharge your energy, pursue activities, passions, or hobbies that are not your career. These are important to your overall happiness and well being. A couple of things to consider for hobbies or side project is that they relieve stress, you have fun doing them, and as a bonus they might even create some additional income. I threw personal development in this category as well it could have fallen in several different categories. Personal development is making sure that you as a person are improving your knowledge, skills, and abilities. The idea is that making improvements to your life on a consistent basis will raise the quality of your life.

A few example questions:

What activities make me happy? What activities have I wanted to pursue and interest me? What am I doing to improve my skills, knowledge, and abilities for my career, hobbies, life skills, etc.? What do I enjoy reading and learning about? What skills could I acquire that will make my life more enjoyable or better?

5. Physical

This category is all about your bod. How you take care of your by diet and exercise will dictate how you will perform for any activity. There are many potential goal options to think about maybe you want to become a great athlete, look good naked, or just figure out how much ice cream  you can eat and not get fat. There are four things to reflect on for physical health they are exercise, diet, addictions(what are you taking in excess that causes problems), and body maintenance(doctor checkups, sleep, hydrating enough, etc.).

A few example questions:

how is my diet affecting my life? Are there any physical limitations in my life that can be changed by diet and exercise? Are you happy with your eating habits? Is your usage of drugs(anything that affects how you feel)(alcohol, tobacco, caffeine, hard drugs) acceptable to you and do they positively or negatively affect your life? Is there anything physically that you want to do that would require physical training(running a marathon, sports performance, increasing flexibility, etc.)?

6. Mental/Emotional

Mental and Emotional affects how you interact with the world around you. This can range from changing how you react in certain situations, to challenging yourself to go outside your comfort zone, or how you confront fears and negative emotions. With this category you should assess which parts of your life cause you emotional discomfort and which parts put you in a good emotional state. Think about how you handle stress, manage your fears, and deal with your emotions.

A few example questions:

What are the main stressors in your life that can be changed? Are you doing things that allow you to be  creative? What fears do you have that hold you back? What out of all the categories listed has the most positive affect on you? Which has the most negative? How can you confront negative emotions or fears?

7. Spiritual

This is an area of reflection of what you believe in. How are you going to live your life or set goals based on beliefs that have meaning to you. You can reflect on whether the way you live your life reflects what you believe in. What you believe in can be a religion such as Christianity or just a set of beliefs that you have about the world. Maybe you are unsure what you believe in. This reflection could help you set goals that will help you discover that. Three main points to consider how you practice, grow, and challenge/develop your beliefs.

A few example questions:

What are things you believe in? What are you doing to learn more about your beliefs? How are you putting your beliefs into practice? How does the way you live reflect what you believe? If your beliefs aren’t strong or are incomplete how can you grow in knowledge and faith of those beliefs?

8. Community

Community is the environment that you live and interact with. Things to reflect on are how your environment at home, work, anywhere you go to on a regular basis affect you. This is different from relationships category because this would include acquaintances and places you visit frequently such as(work, religious groups, activity based groups, support groups,etc.) It is the group interaction you should reflect on instead of the individual relationship.

A few example questions:

What kind of groups do I have in my life? Are the groups I am in supporting me and helping me grow? Does the place I live make me happy? Do I have groups that I do things with? Would finding a group help me grow with an activity I do on my own? Does my work or learning environment help or hinder me?

A few additional questions to reflect on:

What would you do if you could do anything? What would the life of your dreams look like? What fears hold you back? What limitations have you set on yourself and why? If you had 100 million dollars what would you do?

Forming Goals   

Now that you have reflected on all aspects of your life it is time to start forming goals.

1. While you are reflecting on the questions make a list of the activities you want to do(travel somewhere, fly a plane, skills you want to acquire), changes you want make(start making a budget, stop worrying about XYZ, start attending a church), and things you want removed from your life(quit smoking, negative relationships,excessive material possessions).

2. Write down any idea you think of it doesn't matter if it is crazy, incomplete, or unrealistic.

3. Analyze which goals are most important and which ones you want to do.  

-Which of these ideas will have the highest impact on my life(meaning improving happiness/quality of life)? Rank what you think is most important.

-How does this impact your resources/time? Don’t let this stop you from making a goal most goals can be scaled into manageable steps. It is just good to assess the impact on those to help you decide if this is something you are dedicated to. If the goal is a small quick win it might be worth going for.

-Don’t be scared to try a goal. If you have been thinking about doing something for a long time it is something you should do. You can change your mind later if you are not happy with it or it isn't what you expected.

4. Next step is to define the goal. Figuring out exactly what you are trying to achieve. This is where you can use the SMART acronym.

Specific - make sure that you state clearly what it is you wish to achieve. An example of not being specific is “I want to be a great baseball player” if you are specific you would say “I want to play baseball in the Major Leagues”

Measurable - make sure that what you are trying to do can be tracked and you can see your progress. An example if your goal is to lose weight to set a pound amount that you want to lose.

Attainable - Goals should push your boundaries but not be impossible to achieve. Usually it will require some research to see how long it took others to accomplish similar goals. You can also scale goals into attainable sections. If you are trying to jump 10 feet but can only jump 6 feet right now first set your goal for 8ft then after that you can easily proceed to 10 ft . Make sure to set yourself up for small wins on your way to a big goal.

Realistic - Top performers at anything have been doing whatever it is they are good at for a long time. It would not make sense in most cases to expect to reach the top 5% in most things in three months. Give yourself time and realize that most skills take time to develop.

Time sensitive- Give yourself time frames and deadlines in which to hit certain markers. If you allow yourself to have as much time as you want the goal will sit on the shelf and never be achieved.

5. Set your goals in terms of 3 months. This will force you to put your goal into manageable pieces. You don’t have to finish your goals in three months, but trying to figure out how you would do the goal in 3 months forces you to push yourself. You can have a major goal then set portions of it to accomplish in the 3 months.

6. Boom just like that you should have some really good thought provoked goals!

Discovering what you want to do in life and what you need can be a challenging task. This activity and these reflection questions will help you find what you want and help you learn more about yourself. The next part of this puzzle is execution. I have a part 2 article focused on weekly goal planning that I have been using over the last year. Which will take these 3 month goals and put them into executable steps.

One planner I recommend that is helpful for recording your goals is the Panda Planner. It is a little on the higher end, but the setup on the inside is well done. Here is an amazon affiliate link to it:


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