Intentional learning in practice: A 3x3x3 approach - Deepstash

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Learning something new

Curiosity drives most of us to learn something new. However, turning the desire for knowledge into new capabilities requires a plan that consists of small, clear goals.

The most effective strategy for reaching learning goals consists of three main elements.

The 3 x 3 x 3 approach

  1. Three clear and immediate goals.
  2. Three months in which to meet those goals.
  3. Three other people who are able to support and monitor your progress on goals and hold you accountable.


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Three goals: The Goldilocks zone.

When setting development goals, focus on only three goals at any time. More may be counterproductive and divide your focus and energy. On the other hand, too few may cause you to miss opportunities to broaden your impact and increase performance.

For example, a mid-career professional might want to work on being a better coach for employees, broaden her network of contacts in the industry, and improve her enterprise-wide focus in leadership meetings.


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Three months

Setting a limited time helps you understand the importance of building a plan and process to achieve the goal you've set. The ideal time may vary depending on the goal. However, three months is often effective for achieving development goals.

  1. Three months is enough "runway" time to make clear progress. The period forces us to be specific in our goals.
  2. Three months aligns with many natural rhythms, such as quarterly reporting or updates.
  3. Three months forces us to break down longer-term goals into achievable parts.


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Three people to help with your development goals

We naturally prefer to keep our goals to ourselves. It prevents embarrassment if we don't achieve those goals. However, involving others in our learning is the most powerful way to reach our goalsFor example, people find it easier to lose weight or exercise regularly when they're part of a support network instead of trying on their own.

There is no limit to how many people you can enlist to support you. However, try to include at least three people. It creates a healthy discipline in understanding what kind of support you need.


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Broken hearts got nothing on me. Love is beautiful.

The 3x3x3 approach is an effective strategy to continually learn, grow, and achieve development goals.

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