I’m turning 30 today! While it’s a significant milestone, it’s also not. What makes this day different from any other? Nothing. And yet, I feel an amount of energy to leave baggage in my 20s and start anew in my 30s! I love this energy boost we get at the start of a new calendar or birth year. A few years ago, I asked myself how I can get rid of all the side effects that come with setting annual goals – mostly how hard they were to achieve. Here’s the 90-day review and preview process I’ve come up with that not only helps me adapt behavioral changes but also be balanced. Especially after spending so many weeks and months on the road, I get peace from knowing that I’ll never be too far off track. Dive in for all the details!
Hey guys, I’m turning 30 today and while it’s a special day, I do want to share some of the principles and rituals and way of thinking that I’ve established over the years of how I try to keep my life on track.
I’m sure you also have these special days – New Year’s, birthdays, anniversaries… While biologically or physically, they’re a day like any other, we do give those days some special meaning.
One way that had an impact on me is I would set annual goals. For example, before New Year’s or I would set the new goal for the next year of living. And what very often happened is I did not reach that goal. I did not reach it because the first month I was on track and I gave my everything. The second month – I started to sometimes wiggle a bit. The third month – I was kind of half-heartedly in there. Then the fourth month after – usually in April for New Year’s goal – I did not even really remember what my goal was.
And I asked myself why? And how can I use the positive energy that I get on these like special occasions, turn them into something that doesn’t have all the downsides of forgetting and not going through with any resolution and ideas that I’ve made?
Four energy boosts per year instead of just one
Because what I really like about these occasions is that on January 1st you wake up and you have this feeling that suddenly like all the baggage that you’ve accumulated over the past year stayed in the last year and you have a fresh new start. And similar, at a round number like 30, I get up today and I’m like alright my 20s are behind and a whole new decade lies ahead of me.
But what if we could multiply this? What if we could reproduce this energy boost, this kind of like having a rocket pack on my back? How can I multiply this feeling and have it a lot more often and also go through with all my resolutions and wishes and goals that I am setting? And I’ve developed something I call my 90-day review and preview process. And that’s what I want to walk you through today.
Another thing that I’m trying to counter with this process at this idea of a 90-day review preview and seeing my life in quarters instead of years is that life can happen really fast. It’s true for everyone but I think especially for me. Because being in a different city every three days and having a very full calendar.
What are your life’s key areas?
And so here’s what I’ve come up with: a few years ago I asked myself if I had to describe my life in areas to someone else, what would those be? And what I’ve come up with are twelve life areas. Contain something like friends, family, friendship but also money, success, passions, personal growth fun… But also health and nutrition.
I challenge you to do it for yourselves. That’s the way I’ve described my life and you might have completely different areas depending on your priorities and what you’re up to in life. So here’s the full list of my twelve areas in life as I see them right now.
Now, I thought about like what is it that I want to do with these areas? My realization was that in the end, we all want to be happy like it’s never about a certain amount of money or a certain amount of friends or a certain amount of experiences. In the end, it’s all about feelings. It’s all about how you feel about a certain area in your life. That’s what I start my review with.
But before I tell you more about the structure, I want to talk about the 90 days. So every 90 days is when I go through this. Typically, I would do it at the end of the quarter which means the last day of March, June, September, and December. I usually block it off. I have about five to six hours that are reserved for me, for quiet time. And what I do is I sit down and I go through this process.
Why 90 days?
Why 90 days, why at the end of these quarters? Well I mean for one coincides with Christmas and New Year at the end of the year. It’s a good time to look back and look forward. Second, in June it kind of coincides with my birthday which is towards the end of June. But more importantly, it’s about the 90 days versus a year.
One of the things I’ve realized is that for me was always very hard to not set goals but to follow through with goals over a year. Because I just… I have no idea where I’m gonna be in a year from now. I have no idea what I’m gonna be doing twelve months from now, where I’m gonna be living, how I’m gonna be feeling… Whereas in a shorter time spend like 90 days, this is a lot more practical for me.
For most of the areas in my life, I have a pretty good idea of where I’m gonna be, what I’m gonna be doing and how I’m gonna be feeling unless something unexpected happens. I’ve experimented with different time spans and 90 days is where I’ve really dialed it in for myself. For me, it’s a time span where I can still see what’s happening, I can still feel kind of like where I’m gonna get to and what I’m gonna be doing in 90 days from now. But it’s also not too short. It’s long enough to make some actual significant change.
Part 1 – The email
At the end of this quarter, what I do is I sit down I look at these 12 areas and I start my review. And I start writing an email. For me, I like to do it by email because I can use a service like followup.cc or followup.com which allows me to send an email to my future self. So I put it in an email, I send it to March 31st or June 30th or September 30th. And I send off the – @followup.cc I think is the address – and I send it to the service and 90 days later I get this email sent back to me. So it’s an automatic reminder. So even if I would forget about doing this, I automatically get the information back. I never need to go look for it. Of course, you could also do it on paper, you could just sit down and look at your notebook.
Part 2 – The intro
And I start the email by just giving a bit of context on where I am and how I’m feeling right now. It could be something like I’m sitting on a plane right now from Zurich to Washington DC. I was just at a beautiful wedding, feel really, really good about being close with my friends and spending time with them. And now I’m on the way to some sort of business conference, right. That could be an intro. With that, when I look at the email three months later, I have a bit of context on what situation was I in.
Part 3 – The review
And now I start with the life areas. And I start by looking at each area and writing a review. Now, the review consists of several things and it differs per life area but it always starts with my feelings. So the first question I always ask myself is “How do I feel about this area of my life?” I try to describe the feeling that a certain area gives me. So for example, in my last review in the area “Family”, I said I very much feel at home. I feel I have a very good connection with my parents, with my sister, my girlfriend right now. I feel like I’m home. Even though I’m not home most of the time.
Or I could be feeling stressed because there’s been a business deal that’s been going on and I’ve kept pushing. In one of my last reviews, I said I feel very distracted or fragmented because I was trying to do so many things at the same time.
So the first element in each area of life I always try to be as precise as possible with my feelings so let’s look at the structure for this email. I have a bit of an intro and then I have my review and then, later on, let’s put it down here, I’ll have my preview. So we’ll focus on the review for now.
For review: for each area, I will start with my feeling and then some specific questions. So I’ll do that for every area. This is kind of the structure that I go through.
Part 4 – The preview
Under preview, I also have each area. An area may or may not have a goal. That’s the whole structure of this 90-day review and preview process.
And the beauty of this is not whether or not I achieve my goals. I feel for me it’s very effective and also efficient. An even bigger benefit that I get from this process is that it allows me to live life to the fullest without questioning myself within those 90 days. I know I create this dedicated space to interrogate myself and really double check and see if I’m on the right path and if I’m going in the right direction and if I’m investing the right amount of energy in all my areas of life. Because of that, it lets me really focus on living life to the fullest every single day.
And with that, I hope you guys have a beautiful Tuesday. I know I’m gonna have a very, very good 30th birthday because I get to spend it with the people I love and I get to do what I love to do.
I hope there was some value in this. If you see ways for improvements, if you have critical questions, please let me know – just reach out.
Thank you all for being here, thank you all for listening. I hope we’ll meet soon, I hope we’ll get to create some memories soon and with that, I’m off for today!
You can listen to the audio version here: