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Monday, January 2, 2017

There Comes a Journey

Recently I published a podcast episode entitled, "There Comes a Journey," in which I discussed companion tools for the Suzuki journey. If you would like to hear about some of the tools that I use to help guide me as I plan for the coming year, listen to Episode 040 of the Teach Suzuki Podcast. You can subscribe to the podcast on iTunes (Teach Suzuki Podcast) or on Google Play (Google Play).

In podcast episode 40, I mentioned Jinny S. Ditzler's Your Best Year Yet! book and program. You can read my previous blog post about that program here, including several previous articles that explore various program questions in more depth.

I also discussed Hal Elrod's The Miracle Morning book:

This is an interesting book about how to set up your days for more productivity by structuring the morning routine to include several things that help build productivity. I found the book interesting in that it confirmed my own observations and experience about how to use morning time effectively. The book also presents information about the "Circle 10 Life," which is a visual representation of a set of life goals that are designed to provide balance.

You may also find these book resources in my Teach Suzuki blog resources store, which you can find at the top of the blog in the sidebar on the right side of the blog.

In the podcast episode, I discussed the difficulty I had with the circle 10 idea. I had two main issues. First, I found it difficult to create the circle representation of my life. Second, I had trouble dividing my life into ten segments. Although I liked the circle representation idea, I found the process too difficult and cumbersome to be very useful for me and my busy life. I need something that is quick to set up, follow, and maintain.

I came up with a simpler solution, which I wish to share with you: the 90-day Square. My program is different in that it focuses on two main areas in my life -- my personal and my professional sides. I further divided these two areas into individual and other people. With these four simple divisions, I was able to create a square representation.

dividing life into personal and professional categories
Personal & Professional
Two of the quadrants are related to my personal life. The other two quadrants are related to my professional life. I titled my four square quadrants:
  1. Personal: activities that focus on me alone, such as my health, fitness, and personal development goals
  2. Home/Others: activities that focus on my personal life and involve others, such as family relationships and my home environment
  3. Creative: activities that focus on me alone and are related to my professional side
  4. Work/Others: activities that focus on my professional life and involve others, such as my employment with the university and the symphony and my private teaching studio
I further divided each of the four quadrants with 8 dissecting lines that vary horizontally and vertically for visual appeal. These 8 segments will represent 8 goals that I intend to accomplish in the next 90 days.

4 Quadrants with 8 Goal Lines
I also made up a blank template of these items and categories for ease of planning in the future.

I set to work on my template and made a list of 8 results or outcomes that I want to achieve in the next 90 days in each of the four areas represented by a square quadrant. I limited myself to 8 items in each of the four quadrants in order to keep my life balanced. I will admit that I found it difficult to come up with 8 items in some areas and to limit myself to 8 in other areas. Such is the difficulty of balancing life priorities.

I added three columns on the right side of my lists and labeled the columns: 30 -- 60 -- 90. I went through my lists of outcomes and results and determined which items would be completed in 30, 60, or 90 days. To my surprise, the tallies appeared to be balanced as well.

As I set about my next 90 days, I will color in the square segments as I complete items for a visually appealing representation of the work that I accomplish. There will be a few instances when an item on a list has some subtasks or subparts to complete. I will most likely partially fill in segments of the square to represent these subparts. The coloring process does not need to be exact or perfect. The color square is to be a helpful tool, not another life burden.

What's on the back side? A few items in my list needed further breakdowns or notes, and I used the reverse side to do this planning:

At the end of my 90 day period, I have set aside the subsequent month as a time to consider and plan for my next 90 day push. That means that I have basically divided my year into three larger segments of 120 days, and this breakdown seems to follow my usual routine of the year:
  • January-April: This period follows the general university semester calendar.
  • May-August: This time period finishes the school year and covers the summer break.
  • September-December: This time period includes the fall school semester.
As you can see from this breakdown of the year into 120-day segments, the three segments seem to coincide with natural break points in the year. For the first 90 days of each 120-day segment, I plan to achieve the goals that I have set to accomplish in those three months. The fourth month will be a time to celebrate what I achieved, evaluate how well the process worked, and consider what new outcomes or results I want to achieve in the next 90 days.

I have designed my template to fit my bullet journal. I will provide more information about the bullet journal in a future article. I used my bullet journal to help me make my goal lists and plans for the 90-day square.

I hope that you will join me in this 90-day twist to goal setting. If you are interested in trying the 90 day square idea, you can find the template here.

Happy Practicing!

----- Paula -----

© 2017 by Paula E. Bird

The above book links are affiliate links (Amazon), which means that I may receive a small benefit at no additional cost to you. As always, you never need to purchase anything, but if you are in the market to do so, consider using the provided affiliate links in order to support the time and efforts of writing and producing the Teach Suzuki blog and podcast.

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