3 months, 90 days, a season. For some reason, we use this benchmark a lot in society. We like to break the year up into quarters. In 2019, I decided to start using the quarter system for accountability to my goals.
My quarter points are based on my birthday (August, November, February, May), which I would recommend for other people because it creates 5 checkpoints (add Jan 1) throughout 12 months if you subscribe to the Gregorian calendar.
What I love about the quarter system is that it breaks the year into chunks and makes goals more manageable. As I’ve said before, humans need reminders so increasing the time you spend thinking and looking at your goals will increase the chances you work to achieve them.
Why Your Year Should Start with Your Birthday✝
Aging and the (hopefully) slow march towards death seem to be the thing Western Society fears most. The experience of setting goals for the year will have so much more meaning when you tie it to your birthday. Since there won’t be the typical new year hype, you can focus more on what you actually want and how you can realistically get there instead of the fad of the year.
Because it’s more personal than everybody’s new year, you can be more intentional about how you want to show up at this age.
Quarter System Forces Incremental Steps
At the top of a year, I LOVE to set huge goals but I would always forget about them after a couple of months or I would not set out smaller progressive goals. Breaking the year into quarters has helped me to understand the benefit of doing a little bit each day.
One of the key causes of procrastination is when a project feels too big and you don’t know where to start. Having incremental steps prevents overwhelm and serves to consistently refocus you.
With the quarter system, you have to determine what benchmarks are necessary to reach your ultimate goal. This both makes huge goals more manageable, and helps you to see whether or not you’re on track.
You Can See What Is and Isn’t Working
The 5 check points in a year give you the opportunity to reflect on what is and is not pushing you towards your goals. 90ish days is enough time to experiment with methods or systems and see what is actually useful. It’s not exactly instant gratification, but it is a lot more conceivable and real than a year in our brains.
You can gain so much data about your behavior in a relatively short time. In 3 months, you can measurably see the results of a business practice and project its utility over the rest of the year.
You Can Actually See Your Progress
Maybe it’s just me, but I’m more likely to remember my failures than my wins. When I see that I didn’t reach a certain benchmark, without the documentation through the quarter system I would be able to recognize how far I’ve come.
Having these check ins several times a year shows you the steady progress you make. It’s easy to feel discouraged when you don’t achieve a specific final outcome, but when your spirits will lift when you see how much you have progressed. Document every single win because they are worth celebrating!
I also recommend monthly check ins/reflection because it’s actually awe inspiring when you see how much change is possible in just 30 days.
✝Jan-Dec babies, the time between your first and second checkpoint will be shorter, but that can be a good thing! Since most people give up their resolutions within 2 weeks, you’ll have a nice reminder to do better for yourself.