12 week or 90 day self improvement programs have a lot of momentum at the moment. 90 days, 12 weeks, 3 months, a ‘season’ is a nice time chunk. It’s about the right time to really get something meaty done and yet not to daunting. If you’re very proactive you can do 4 of them a year and make lots of improvements. I’ve done a few, like the Artist’s Way and they are very powerful. But many times they’re not quite suited to your needs.
One of the programs that I tried along the way was one of the first, if not earliest ’90 day improvement plan’, Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues. I first came across this from the Art of Manliness blog. It is a simple process where you focus and pay attention to one virtue each week for 13 weeks. What struck me about it was that it was tailor made by Benjamin Franklin to suit his own desires for improvement. And one thing in particular that struck me to reinforce that was the 13th virtue, Humility. He added the 13th virtue based on some feedback he had from a Quaker acquaintance of his who remarked that he sometimes came across as prideful. So he added Humility to his list of virtues to focus on.
That got me thinking, could you design a 90 day program tailored to your own ideas. And here is a small step by step guide that I think you can use to build your tailor made 90 day program.
Step 1 Identify the improvements
If you already have a list of skills, practices, or virtues, that you want to improve. Then use them.
If not then maybe think about the ‘game’ you’re playing. Who are the major players? What are the skills they have? What activities do they undertake? Pick some that you think you’d like to improve and use them as your program to become one of the top players in your field.
For a 90 day program, the number works best if it’s a factor of 12 as it fits nicely into even chunks within the 12 weeks. Although 13 also works well as a quarter/season is really 13 weeks. So a list of 13, 12, 6, 4, 3, and even 2 all work nicely.
OK. Let’s try an example … Ah! I want to get better at the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People … ‘Be Proactive’, ‘Begin with the End in Mind’, ‘Put First things First’, ‘Think Win/Win’, ‘First seek to Understand, then to be Understood’, ‘Synergize’, ‘Sharpen The Saw’. Cool, but there are 7. That doesn’t quite work out. Ah! The last one, ‘Sharpen The Saw’ is all about improvement. Actually going through a program to improve on the other 6 is actually sharpening the saw. So I’ve got it down to 6.
Step 2 Initial Scores and Split the weeks.
If you’re looking to run a self-improvement plan then it’s a good idea to know where you’re starting from. So try to score yourself against the things you’re looking to improve, and be ready to check again at the end of the program. Then split the weeks. In my example I have 6 habits and 12 weeks. So I’ll focus on one habit a fortnight.
Step 3 Determine how you’re going to record your progress
Going back to Benjamin Franklin’s 13 virtues, he understood the value of recording your behaviour can help you change it and he had a simple grid he used to record how he did with each day for each of the virtues focusing on one a week. So determine how you’re going to record your progress along the way. You can use any number of ways. If you keep a journal, maybe use that. If you have a bullet journal, use that. If you like electronic tools, maybe create a document and record your progress there.
For my 6 habits plan, I used a ‘bullet journal’ format.
Step 4 – Accountability
Now this is not a necessity but it helps to keep you on the program. Find a way to have keep you accountable. This can be as simple as just telling someone. Maybe even use something like Facebook and other social media, report on your progress as a status along the weeks.
Step 5 – Go for it
Each week, focus your attention on the skill, virtue, habit or whatever, record your progress in your journal, bullet journal, document and go for it.
Step 6 – End of Program Retro
At the end of the 12 (or 13) week program, spend some time reviewing, how it went. Score how you feel you are doing against the items on your list, if there is an accurate measure that you can use then by all means use that, but if it’s subjective then that’s fine. Then have a check on how you found the program. What did you like? What did you learn? What did the program lack? What did you long for?
Step 7 – Rinse and Repeat?
Using the scores and the answers the the review questions, decide whether you want to run the program again. Are the same items relevant, if not change them? What would you change based on the answers to the review questions? Then back to the beginning and off you go.
With this simple guide you can be like Benjamin Franklin and go on a journey of continuous improvement throughout your life tailored to your own needs and desires.
For a quick guide on creating your own 12 week program checkout my free pdf
I hope you find this helpful. Please let me know if you use this method, what program you used and how it went.