Starting with all the different elements is one thing. But you can’t just wait and watch everything unfold the way you want. You will need a systematic approach to review and check on everything. You’ll be making small changes to your system, so it becomes the best it can be.
Doing is daily, planning is longterm. It is important to look ahead. A couple of years ago I read the book ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’ from Sean Covey. The second habit of the book is “Begin with the end in mind”. Covey makes the distinction between mental first creation and the physical second creation. If you don’t first envision what you want to achieve it will be hard to reach it. But planning happens on different wavelengths. You have to plan daily. What am I going to eat today? At what time starts tennis training? Should I plan that meeting in the morning or the afternoon?
But with this kind of planning, you will never be able to envision long-term goals. People will get sucked up in the daily grind without ever properly guessing if they are taking the right route.
One of my mantras is ‘Direction over Speed’. Why? If you’re pointed in the wrong direction, it doesn’t matter how fast you’re traveling. Inversely, if you’re locked on to your desired destination, all progress is positive, no matter how slow you’re going. You’ll reach your goal eventually.
So take a little time to plan your life every now and then. Plan out that map, trust the process and you will eventually reach your goals.
But this brings up the question of design. How do you choose what kind of review you should perform? How do you perform it? What are the steps? How do you know when you’re done? These are all process design questions, and very few people are prepared to take them on. Again it is all about taking a realistic stance. If you design a system that is too hard you won’t be able to keep yourself to it. But too easy is also wrong. I am in favor of challenging yourself just enough. You should design it to be challenging thus reachable.
The first step in designing a process is to decide what it’s for: what results or outcomes do you want the process to produce? From the beginning, I knew that I wanted a system that would keep me focused on the right things at the right time. It should focus on my projects and areas, values, habits, and planning.
Here are the intended outcomes I’ve decided on for my three reviews:
- My weekly review is designed to give me just enough situational awareness to take effective action and push myself in the right direction.
- My quarterly review is designed to translate my long-term goals into current projects and stay laser-focused on outcomes.
- My annual review is designed to redirect my time, effort, and attention toward new sets of goals by looking back on the past.
Let’s explore the three:
3 years ago I came across planning your year for the first time. Back then I made a small list of some things I would like to achieve. It turned out to be powerful. A year-end review is like a little guidebook you always bring with you. It is the perfect way to analyze all the facets. I ask myself a couple of questions:
- What did I do last year?
- What went well and what didn’t?
- What am I working toward?
- How am I going to achieve new things?
Because I already have the area and projects structure it is very easy to just check in every area what you have done and what you planned on doing.
Every Sunday I do a quick review. I inspect all the projects and areas and plan ahead for the following week.