The Magic of Quarterly Planning

One of the most unique elements of the Agave planning system is our philosophy of quarterly planning. Living a vision centered life is hard. It brings up fear and insecurity, and it challenges the way we prioritize our time. Vision casting and goal setting require commitment to radical action. It takes hard work. Yet, I have found that when you break goals down into a 3-month time frame, that hard work becomes more achievable. It doesn’t make it easy, but it helps narrow your focus in a way that fosters commitment and maintains relevance.

How many times have you set out to achieve a goal or some type of New Year’s Resolution that you eventually gave up? Maybe you were motivated and committed when you first started out, and as time went on, you gradually lost that motivation and became less and less committed to the goal until eventually it was totally abandoned. Or, how many times have you pursued a goal to find after a while that the goal wasn’t actually relevant to you anymore? Or something significant about the goal had changed and you were left feeling lost or stuck?

As humans, we have relatively short attention spans. We lose motivation. We move on to something more pressing in the moment. We change interests and direction. We are fluid and try different paths. We get distracted. But fortunately, our world was designed with a natural rhythm of reflection and renewal with the changes of the seasons. Since God designed the earth to reset and shift every 3 months, I thought it was a great timeframe for casting vision and setting goals. So, I designed the Agave Planner to focus on 3 months at a time. At the beginning of each planner, you will find the prep work of checking in on the quarter that just passed and identifying opportunities for growth over the next 3 months. You will cast vision for your future, and identify what 5 goals you will focus on that quarter. Then you will go into detail, planning out those goals and developing action plans in order to set yourself up for success. Finally, you will enter into the daily work of bringing your vision and goals into reality.

Goal setting in 3-month increments is incredibly powerful because it is a very manageable time frame. A big goal like publishing a book, or running a marathon, or starting a business can seem overwhelming. But when you think about setting a goal that you can commit to for the next 3 months, suddenly you are taking steps and finding yourself ever closer to your goal. Maybe you are going to commit to writing a certain number of words every day, or committing to a 90-day running routine to increase your endurance, or writing a business plan. These are things you can do in 3 months that will get you closer to your goal.

Checking in on your progress and vision every 3 months is essential to ensuring that the action steps and goals we commit to keep us focused on our larger vision. By taking the time to pause and reflect you can identify where you are getting stuck and what is and isn’t working. You can make sure you are still committed to your vision and that it is still the direction you want to go with your life. When I first started using this quarterly system I was a new mom, heading back to work for the first time with a 3-month old baby. Going back to work was incredibly hard and I had a vision for my life to be able to stop working and stay home with my baby. Well, as time went on, as I got used to being a full-time working mama and found systems that made life work, I realized that my vision had changed. I found that I 100% have no desire to be a stay at home mom, it is not for me. I was able to shift my vision and start working on goals that were more aligned with what I really wanted, a job and life that allowed me to be a great mom and pursue my passions. Over the last few years, each time I check in on my vision and goals, I get a little bit clearer about what that means, and my goals shift to reflect my refining vision.

The last thing I had you do on the Vision Casting sheet was to identify the items from your brainstorming that were most meaningful to you. Go back now and look at those things. Start listing what you need to accomplish this quarter, the next 3 months, in order to get you closer to those aspects of your long-term vision. Don’t edit yourself, just free form brainstorm specific goals that will get you closer to your vision. Next, adjust your goals to fit within a 3-month time frame. If your vision is to own your own home, you may have written a goal to pay off your debt. You can make this a quarterly goal by identifying exactly how much debt you will pay off in the next 3 months. Or maybe the goal itself isn’t attainable in 3 months (like writing a book), but you can make a commitment of time for the next 90 days (like writing a certain number of words per day). Finally, narrow that list down to the 5 most important goals you will focus on this quarter. We will make a plan to accomplish those goals in the coming posts.