When you sign up to OneUpOneDown you will be matched with a mentor and/or a mentee for 3 months. Creating a 90 day plan together is a useful way to get thoughts out of your head and down into something you and your mentor can work with.
Even if you don’t end up sticking to the plan, which can often happen as you move forward and start to realise what is most important or interesting, the process that you go through to create one is valuable.
HOW TO WORK WITH YOUR MENTOR TO SET THE FOCUS FOR YOUR 90-DAY PLAN:
Your first mentor session is a great opportunity to identify the skills you would like to work on and how your mentor’s current skills and experiences fit in. The overlapping skills will be the foundation on which you can build your 90 day plan.
It’s important to be honest and share the areas you would like to develop with your mentor so you can both identify how they can help you best.
Here’s a simple structure you may like to use to create your 90 day plan:
STEP ONE: DEFINE THE OVERARCHING SMART GOAL
SMART goals are a tried and true way of giving direction to what it is that you want to achieve. Here’s a refresher, incase you can’t remember the specifics:
Specific – Time to be precise. Give enough detail so it’s clear what you’re aiming for. For example, instead of have the goal of “I would like to be able to move and influence people through public speaking”, the goal instead could be, “When I deliver a presentation, I would like to be approached by at least 5% of the audience afterwards”.
Measurable – Assigning a measurement to the goal makes keeping track of progress easier and more accurate. Find a way to measure your progress. In addition to the above example, you may create a measurable goal such as: “Currently I rate my public speaking performance as a 4/10, after 3 months I would like to confidently rate it as a 7/10”.
Achievable/Acceptable/Ambitious – there are various takes on what the ‘A’ in SMART goals stands for. The main message is that it needs to be big enough to push you to where you need to go and achievable enough so you don’t become demoralised. For example; if you are at the beginning of your public speaking journey, starting with the goal to deliver a TED Talk may be slightly too much of an ask. However, delivering a presentation to your colleagues on a topic that you know well and think is important may be a manageable goal that pushes your outside your comfort zone.
Relevant – does this goal make sense for you right now, or is it a pipe dream? The difference between an achievable dream and a pipe dream is that person is actually prepared and puts in the work to achieve the dream, vs. just thinking and talking about it. Are you prepared to put in the work to achieve the dream this goal is a part of? And is it a priority compared to all the other things you could be working on? If yes, then the goal is probably relevant. If no, then set a goal that is relevant to what you actually intend to execute on.
Time framed – specify when you will achieve the goal by. This is especially important for short-term goals. It can be harder to put a time-frame on long term goals, as there are more unknowns and a greater margin for errors, however, you should be able to work out a realistic time frame for short term goals. In this case, it’s likely to be 90-days, because that’s how long your relationship with your current mentor will last.
So what is the output from this exercise? It’s a defined goal that you feel motivated and excited by and possible slightly nervous about because it’s pushing you to another level.
Something like this, which is the goal Natalie set with her first mentor:
“By 15 November 2019, I want to be able to effectively get a point across through public speaking. I will know I am successful if at least 3 people in the audience approach me after I deliver the presentation and express that I moved them in some way.”
You may also like to think about why this goal is important to you. How does it fit into the overall vision you have for yourself?
STEP 2: DEFINE THE DEVELOPMENT AREAS THAT WILL HELP YOU TO ACHIEVE YOUR GOAL
If you haven’t achieved the goal you have in mind, it may be because there’s a gap in your knowledge or experience. Maybe there’s a new skill you have to learn and practice or a mindset you need to shift. Or maybe it’s because the goal wasn’t as relevant as you thought at the time of setting it. It’s okay for goals to change as you learn more about yourself and what you want to be working towards.
To help with setting the specific actions you intend to take over the next 90 days, start by identifying your existing gaps. Maybe you already know them or maybe you don’t and it’s something your mentor can help with.
Using the example of improving public speaking capabilities, the development areas Natalie has identified are:
- Learn to communicate freely from the heart and the head, without overthinking and catching herself
- Learn a simple and effective structure for delivering a presentation
- Create a process for preparing a presentation, to make sure she give’s herself enough time to do a great job
Natalie like’s to think of things in threes, so she usually sets three areas that she needs to work on within a given time. How you choose to define these development areas is up to you.
Use the knowledge that you have about your mentor, their strengths, insights and skills, to identify how you would like them to support your development.
STEP 3: DEFINE THE NEXT STEPS THAT YOU WILL ACTION WITHIN A DEFINED TIME-FRAME
What are the actions that you can take to develop the areas you’ve identified in Step 2?
You may like to work out the series of steps that you are going to take over the full 90 days, or you might prefer to decide on then action the steps after your mentor meeting.
Our hope is that your mentor will help suggest what the next best steps are based on their own knowledge and experience of the problem you’re working on solving.
Put time frames on each task to keep yourself accountable.
A 90-day, 30-day, 60-day, or any other time period based plan, is useful for giving your ideas and ambitions a direction. As you move forward and have new experiences and realisations, you may find that your goals change. This is okay! Don’t beat yourself up about not sticking to goals, as there is value that comes from moving with opportunities and realisations.
This article is purely designed to give you and your mentor a tool through which you can express what you want to achieve, for your own benefit and to help your mentor understand how they can add value.