Planning My 2021 Intentions

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Resolutions. Goals. Milestones. Do you set them? Setting out yearly goals has never been my strong suit, especially when you are designing goals for an entire year ahead of you. Why set a New Year resolution when it takes months to build new habits?! You should just start today to meet next year’s resolutions! In this article, I’m sharing how I set intentions for a year but truly how I operate in 3-month intervals to reach those annual intentions and to get the most out of my time!

Over the last few years, I’ve been calling these goals “Intentions” and I actually make them quarterly instead of annually. Living 3 months – or 12 weeks – at a time. If you know me, my plans are always changing due to the dynamic life my wife and I create with our ideas and never-ending optimization/strategic thinking so operating in 3-month intervals feels much more reasonable. This practice is a mix of my experience running product dev teams that work in “Sprints“, Bullet Journaling, being a lifelong racing cyclist, and various versions of the Best Self journals.

Reflecting on this, probably the biggest part of this makeup is truly the racing cyclist in me. You see, when you set out your “yearly training plan” as a cyclist you are creating training blocks of time designed around your target events or races. Depending on what you are training for they could be 4-12 weeks of a specific type of training in a block. The winter is the time to reset and create a BASE. This base will build you into the next block of training, always building, always moving forward with the right amount of rest built in to get stronger and smarter. When I was coming back from an injury or switching specialties, sometimes my BASE was 4 weeks up to 12 weeks!

Currently, I’m not building to race anytime soon (but hey, cross is always coming?!) but this is very much how my brain is wired after over a decade of writing cycling training plans and now working in marketing and product design. When you write a training plan you often identify your target events with classifications. You don’t have too many “A” events, but you may have several B & C events leading up to the 1-3 A events. The A event sets the tone for the year. Are you working on building long event form for 6-hour events or do you need power for 45-minute max efforts?

I tell you all this in hopes to share how I am going about setting my intentions for 2021. What are my “A” events or milestones and how can I prepare my year for those successes by breaking down what I need to create? Everything is based around the idea of 3 milestones or priorities for the year, quarter, month, week, and even day. What do you need to achieve TODAY to build to your main event?

Main Milestones for Jan – June 2021 (at the time of writing this 12/27/20)

Now, these aren’t all the milestones that will happen, but these are the major ones that I can’t let out of my sight and what I’ll be building my day to day to achieve. Moving down to the supporting milestones, what do I need to do to be the best at achieving the above?

3-Month Intentions (Jan, Feb, Mar)
  • Work: Developing KPIs for Tern Bicycles North America marketing and education, testing different messaging, launching training
  • Moving: Low hanging fruit (decorations), visiting NC, selling old bike stuff in March
  • Fitness: Building the habit of fitness (physically and mentally), adding long rides, target rides,

You’ll see that each of these bullets come from the ones above, and have 3 things within each (1 for each month roughly).

January Intentions
  • Onboard with my new job, develop marketing calendar/budget, properly use Trello/Basecamp/all the tech
  • Journal & create 6x per week for personal and professional
  • Workout 5-6x per week

The monthly ones I get a bit looser with the “3s” as it is basically repeating my 3-month intentions but it is helpful to have it at my monthly view. In my hard copy journal I’ll create monthly calendars with the habits I’m trying to work on to check off the days I do them. Again, this is helpful just as a daily reminder of WTF I’m supposed to be doing so that I don’t have to hold on to it, and it is there when I wake up and journal.

This Week’s Intentions
  • Family time
  • Purge (Halloween & Christmas decorations, winter “stuff” we aren’t using)
  • Build habits (fitness, daily gratitudes, daily journal, create daily)

What do you need to achieve today/this week to continue the momentum forward towards the intentions you have set?

Today’s Priorities

I specifically say these as priorities. As a small business owner, in any job I’ve held, it is really easy to get swept up in the “to-do list” and not focus on what you MUST achieve today. What 3 things do I need to achieve today that help me achieve this week’s intentions, rolling into this month’s intentions, up to the 3-month? Do those things first. Never have more than 3 decently sized things on your to-do list a day is my greatest advice. Also, a to-do isn’t a meeting, a to-do is an action in my opinion. Too many people make a to-do list to check things off, but you aren’t checking off things that are moving you forward but instead, you are just teaching yourself to tread water. If you have you do indeed have a bunch of things to do in a day, instead of making a to-do list I would suggest you literally make events in your calendar for times you need to do them. Do them in those times, don’t delay, and GSD!

Build Your Priorities, Intentions, Milestones in 3s

I work in 3s for a few different reasons. The main reason is that it is easier to operate under a limited number. If you know me, I’m a dreamer and idea maker but I’m effective with my time because I limit my scope. If an idea or task doesn’t fall within my intentions for that day/week/month then I note it for the future. It is worth noting this sometimes drives my wife crazy because I’ll put off something she wants me to do because it isn’t in that scope. This is something I’m working on for sure. I even work within these limitations daily with the Pomodoro method, but I’ll explain that in the future.

Limiting my focus allows me to work and build on 3 things a day, that tackle the 3 things I need to do in a week, a month, and finally 3-months. Many of us can completely change our lives within 3-months with the right focus. Fitness, marketing plans, work, habits, lifestyle shifts, etc.

Take Away

By limiting my focus I’m able to achieve more. I set tent poles into the future of what I intend to achieve then I can identify what I need to do now to get there but taking care not to overload myself by focusing on only 3 things at a time.

For my own mental health tracking, I may check back in and write about what I’m achieving and what has been changed. Often in life, especially my life, it isn’t about setting a hard set plan or GOALS to get where I hope to go, but to set intentions and reset the course or tasks to achieve those intentions.

Your Turn

By limiting my focus I’m able to achieve more. I set tent poles into the future of what I intend to achieve then I can identify what I need to do now to get there but taking care not to overload myself by focusing on only 3 things at a time.

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