This week spend some time looking in your rear view mirror.
In a few weeks, the calendar turns to 2017. For some, it will be “good riddance” to 2016. Others will have fond memories and gratitude of the past twelve months. And then there will be the innumerable New Year’s Resolutions that will be broken before January turns to February.
If you follow this blog with any regularity, you have read my thoughts about the importance of goals. I have shared strategies and urged you to stretch yourself. Above all, I encourage you to believe in who you are and who you can become. None of us has to be a finished project. Look to the future and all it holds. Be a cheerleader for your future—and find others who will push and pull you along toward your dreams.
This week spend some time looking in your rear view mirror. Do you know how you have spent this year? I mean, do you really know what you have done with your time on your way to your goals?
We have often heard that “experience is the best teacher.” In reality, “evaluated experience” will be a better teacher. We have to take time to reflect not on just what we have done, but also on why we have done what we have done.
Here is an illuminating practice I started doing five years ago. During the last week of December, I conduct a 52-week review of my life.
- I print out the previous 52 weeks of my calendar. All my personal appointments and my professional opportunities. Everything. I color-code my calendar appointments during the year so that I can easily see categories and projects (like: writing, program development, program rehearsal, program delivery, house projects, community connections, meetings with friends, dates with my bride, and so on). If you want to save a tree, forego the printing and review your e-calendar from your phone, tablet, or laptop. Caution: If you do this e-review, shut off your incoming messages. You really want to have undivided attention on this process. You are worth it!
- I typically go to a local beach coffee shop, find a quiet corner, and start my 52-week review. You can do this any place. I suggest a place where you can focus and have some “you time.”
- I make notes about which activities got most of my attention, which ones did not get much time on the calendar, and what did not appear to make it into my life.
Every time I do this, I learn something about myself. While I know in the broad terms how I use my time, this exercise helps with specifics. One year, I “learned” (really, became more aware of) what was NOT there on the calendar. Or at least, what was NOT there ENOUGH times. I found that important things like lunch with friends was not as prevalent as I had thought. And while my wife and I spend quite a bit of time together, I felt like we could have done more special things.
The exercise, in short, re-emphasizes the importance of balance and integration in life for me. It helps me clearly see where I have been on the journey for the past year. And it holds my feet to the fire. Have I been authentic to myself? What stories have I been telling myself—and what stories have I been living?
Before we can adequately plan, we need to have a firm understanding of where we have been. We do not need to bog down in what ifs. Just an objective view of the journey so we can better prepare for the next part of the road.
Video recommendation for the week:
Sometimes goal setting can become a passive activity. We list a number of goals and then we see what happens. In this video, I suggest that rather than “wait for” we “work for” our goals. Start working for 2017 with your 52-week review of 2016.
Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
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My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.
(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.