Looking Back While Planning Forward

10 July 2013, by A. Cedilla

It’s been quite a while since the start of the year — heck, even the start of the second quarter– so it’s definitely about time to take a few steps back, set aside a few hours or an afternoon, and see how you’re really doing, and perhaps getting some pen and paper handy for catching ideas.

So…what’s up? Have you accomplished significant changes in your life at this point? Paid off debts, got certified, made more contacts in the industry, got your blood pressure down, or fulfilled a significant personal goal?

Take a look at what you’ve been doing for the past half-year. In the daily rush it’s often difficult to pay attention to the direction things are going unless we take time to step back and assess the bigger picture. We need time to pass before we can get enough data-points, or tally up enough events, or get enough real-life information on which to make an accurate, contextually-based assessment of what’s going on.

(And you do this how?)

You keep watch. You make notes. You keep a record and you review. You check for similarities and triggering events. You look at what comes in and what goes out. You ask questions.

  • Is this taking me where I want to go?
  • I’m doing this every day. Is it getting me somewhere?
  • It’s been a week. How far along am I?
  • It’s been a month. What’s been the biggest difference?
  • It’s been a year. Where the hell am I?

Keep asking yourself this, especially about the small things. After all, big things only come every so often, small things you do every day, and over days and weeks, those small things can make a big difference. Little things like:

  • How you handle your work load and attend to your priorities.
  • How you conduct yourself through the problems and situations that pop up.
  • How you use your money and where you use it.
  • How you handle your business’s fine print.

When you have a long enough record of small things, you can see their effects and start asking yourself:

  • Is this helping better my life a little more each time I do it?
  • Will doing it this way in particular help make it easier in the long run?
  • Am I growing because of this? Getting stronger, or more learned, or developing a better relationship?

You do the small stuff every day.

At the end of a week, you’re just getting used to being a little uncomfortable. At the end of a month you wonder why it took you so long. Small things over time build up, and those things can make a substantial difference, not just one you can feel, but one you can see.

So you ask yourself again: Is this a sustainable, important thing that carries over to other parts of my life?

At the end of a quarter, you should be able to see the difference. One small thing done each day adds up to changes you wouldn’t expect.

Reviewing the results of the small stuff helps enormously in dealing with the emotions that contribute to procrastination and giving up. Things like feeling hopeless because ‘nothing happens’, and feeling frustrated that things are going so slowly.

Reviews keep you going from here to there and realigns your expectations into more realistic parameters. The habit keeps you in touch with your daily energy expenditure — very important for ‘endurance training’ and tracking where your best use of energy can be allotted for the day. Also, reviews:

  • Gives you a true sense of what you can accomplish in time, given time,and within your reach.
  • Helps you focus on what you need to finish for today (prioritization done right) to pave the way to accomplishing important things tomorrow
  • Helps link days together. You don’t just drift.
  • Helps you adjust — with a cleared ‘time-board’ laid out, you can see what can be shuffled around to accommodate sudden changes and new things
  • You see what you can do -and have done– when you’re simply moving with attention. You’re handling it.

You begin with an end (or several ends) in mind

And while things are going along you adjust to make sure you hit those ends.

Reviews make sure you stay on the path.

You see what your procrastination habits can cost you.

From reviews: You can set a particular ‘quota’ for the day –

  •  “This is what I need to do over the week, and these small things done each day will make that happen.”
  • “This is the goal for the month, and over 4 weeks, over 30 days (and not even all of them, really) I can get this done”

The important but not urgent gets the attention it deserves. You get lee-way, you get an informed choice and options, “Okay, today I can rest because I got these things in particular done, and now my time is mine.”

A review tasks you to take notes, think on them, and take action. That’s it. A small every-day action, a little record to remind you, builds up to a habit of clarity and reflection, which is not an insignificant help in the hurly-burly demands of today’s stressful speed of life.

If you liked this article, you may want to take a look at “The Power of Reviewing Your Day.

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