For nearly the past year, I have planned my life in 3’s and I have had the most productive year of my life. One of my goals this quarter is to start writing publicly and I think the best topic to start with is the process that has made me a much more effective person at setting goals and achieving them.
Why the number 3? As you will see, the number 3 is magical — even planning your life in 3’s is itself a 3-point plan (I love how meta this is).
Plan for 3 months
Think about what your goals are for the next 3 months of your life. Planning for less feels too short-term to make meaningful progress and planning for more feels too long-term of a commitment where it is likely your goals may change. I like to align my quarterly plans with the seasons of the year. Just recently, I finished planning my summer goals for July through September.
3 sections: health, wealth, and wisdom
Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.
— Benjamin Franklin (supposedly)
Health, wealth, and wisdom are the three main pillars of a happy and successful life. Your 3-month plan is broken down into these 3 sections. It’s important to focus your attention equally on these 3 pillars without neglecting one or more.
Are you looking to maintain/lose/gain weight? Are there some unhealthy habits that you’ve been meaning to get rid of? Or maybe some healthy habits you’ve been meaning to acquire? This section is reserved for all of your physical health goals. Mental health goals are definitely important too but I put those in the Wisdom section.
What are your savings goals? Do you have debt that needs to be paid off? Are you happy with where you are in your career? Do you want to switch jobs or acquire new skills to make yourself better at your job? Is there a business you’d like to start? All goals regarding money and your work can be defined here.
Should you have a meditative practice? Are there books you’d like to read? Are there skills unrelated to your career that you would just like to learn? Are you being a good friend in relationships that are important to you? This section is the most flexible and is the best place for goals that don’t really fit within the other two sections.
3 bullet points for each section
The third and final 3 is the number of goals you define in each section for the quarter. Define 3 points in each main pillar of your life that you’d like to focus on. You can create sub-lists in each point to go into more detail. It is best to define these in a way that is measurable so that you can measure your effectiveness of achieving your goals at the end of the quarter. Once these are defined, you can start assigning important milestone dates for different tasks to get done.
Another important point is to keep these simple and be realistic about your capability to achieve them. You don’t need to become the perfect version of yourself in the next 3 months. Just try to improve a little bit in each of these categories and when you look back after doing this for a year or a few years, you will be amazed at how far you’ve come.
What it looks like when you’re done
Here’s what my plan of 3’s looks like for this summer. Some of these are embarrassing (why do I need to remind myself to call my friends?) but I think everyone has simple tasks and goals that they push off to the future that will never get done unless they are written down. When you write it down, you’re making a declaration that something is important to you and you hold yourself accountable to work on it.
When your plan of 3’s is complete, the important milestones you defined are moved into a planner. The last week of every quarter is also reserved for a retrospective on your accomplishments over the past 3 months and planning for the next quarter of your life. If people find this process useful, I will write a future post on how I break these goals down further into monthly and weekly tasks.