Welcome to January, where everyone is all about new year, new goals, and trying to put their best foot forward in, well, everything.
To help you achieve just that, the 90/90/1 resolution method has stepped back into the spotlight as of late, attracting the interest of individuals hoping to start the new year off on a positive note and stick to their new year’s resolutions.
This self-improvement M.O. has garnered attention at just the right time as “the enthusiasm that comes with setting resolutions can start to wane when the initial new year adrenaline wears off,” says Deb Harrison, a growth and change coach and consultant. As Harrison puts it, without a strategy and plan in place, it can be particularly difficult to hold the course.
Brian Pulliam, founder of Refactor Coaching agrees. “January often brings hope for achieving goals that have been elusive in the past, but as they say, ‘a goal without a plan is just a dream,’” says Pulliam. “It’s not that your goals are too ambitious; it’s that you need new tactics to achieve them more effectively.”
This is where the 90/90/1 rule comes in, a technique created by Robin Sharma in which you spend the first 90 minutes of your day for 90 days straight devoted to one important goal of yours. Ahead, a deep dive on the buzzy productivity approach and how you can make the 90/90/1 rule work for you.
What is the 90/90/1 rule?
The 90/90/1 method is a straightforward technique, conceived by Robin Sharma, in which you spend 90 minutes each morning focusing on accomplishing an objective or resolution for 90 days in a row. Sharma is a motivational speaker, leadership expert and the author of The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny and The 5AM Club: Own Your Morning. Elevate Your Life.
Harrison stresses that the innovative technique “combines passion with action” in which a participant chooses “one big goal and commits to working on it for the first 90 minutes of the day for 90 days.” (Hence its nickname: 90 minutes, 90 days, 1 goal).
“We are at our peak ability to maintain focus in the morning, and habit setting requires intentional consistency,” adds Harrison
Pulliam shares that applying this concept can be particularly helpful if you feel like you're being pulled in a million different directions. “The 90/90/1 method boils it all down to, ‘the main thing is the main thing.’”
How you can put the 90/90/1 rule into practice
You can use the 90/90/1 rule for both professional and personal goals. “The strategy can be a fantastic thing to do as the first 90 minutes of your workday before you check email,” says Alexis Haselberger, a time management and productivity coach. For example, if you're working toward some sort of work-related certification, setting aside the first 90 minutes of the day to diligently work toward that certification could be quite impactful.”
Harrison gives the example of writing a book, a dream of countless people. For this, she suggests taking 90 minutes each morning to work on writing, revising, and doing organizational tasks associated with getting published. Remember, just because your goal is to write a book, doesn’t mean you need to spend those 90 minutes only writing; any book-adjacent task is fair game, whether it's researching publishing houses or polishing your proposal.
It’s also important to consider what tangible results you can achieve in 90 days. “Break these results into tasks that don’t take more than 30 minutes each, and grab three tasks for each day,” says Pulliam of the following approach, which maps out how you can secure your dream job using the 90/90/1 rule:
- Connect with one to three people on LinkedIn that work at that dream company.
- Follow their content on LinkedIn and contribute to any conversations.
- Ask them if they’ll answer five or six questions that let them tell you their own story.
- Ask them for advice on how to put your best foot forward.
- Refine your résumé and LinkedIn profile based on what you hear.
- Find a mentor or career coach expert to help you navigate this path faster and with less effort.
Tips for sticking to the 90/90/1 rule
Daily habits are easier said than done, we know. Below, experts share their top tips for ensuring you knock it out of the park on your 90/90/1 mission.
Befriend tools that will help you
“A calendar, pen and timer can be tremendous assets for mastering your resolutions with concepts like the 90/90/1 rule,” says Harrison, who recommends marking your 90/90/1 plan on the calendar, setting a 90-minute alarm, and adding reminders on your phone.
Recruit a friend to stay motivated
Seek out an accountability partner who can check in with you each day. Even if you’re both working on entirely different endeavors, you can lean on each other for advice.
If you can’t link up with someone to toast the wins and hold yourself accountable on your 90/90/1 journey, consider journaling about your progress each day, offers Harrison. Additionally, you can set yourself up for success on the next day by spending the last few minutes of your 90-minute block making a note of what you will do the following morning.
Focus on what works rather than the pain points
Find the good, folks. “We often spend too much time in January on what’s not working,” says Pulliam, who suggests thinking back to 2023 and asking yourself what worked well for you. “Where was it easy to maintain discipline and why? What lessons can you learn from what works for you already, that can be applied to those goals that have been more elusive?” inquires Pulliam of questions you can ask yourself to get the wheels turning.
A note for night owls
Working toward a goal before breakfast isn’t practical for many people, which is why Haselberger suggests identifying a 90-minute window in your schedule that works for you on most days.
For example, if you want to read 25 books in 90 days, you might keep a book by your bedside and devote the last 90 minutes of your day to reading instead of the first 90 minutes of your day to the routine.
Similarly, extend compassion to yourself by shifting your ethos from “every day for 90 days” to striving for “every weekday for 90 days,” a particularly relevant tip if you’re working on a work-related, educational, or professional development goal, and you don’t want it to bleed into your weekend.
The bottom line: Embracing flexibility will serve you well throughout your quest. "Studies show that flexible habits are stickier habits," says Haselberger.