How To Keep a Self Reflective Journal To Stay On Track With Your Goals
Yuli Azarch | December 18, 2017 | No Comments on How To Keep a Self Reflective Journal To Stay On Track With Your Goals
Once in awhile, you need to stop. You need to take time to think, reflect and journal. I think it is one of the most important things that you can do for yourself. To check where you are right now, where you are heading and just get things out of your head. Sometimes we are stuck in our heads and we do not really measure our progress. We do not acknowledge that it is not only about working hard (although I strongly believe in hard work), it is about working smart. For me working smart is stopping and keeping a self reflective journal to stay on track with my goals.
I have a special weekly reflection process which I want to share with you. I honestly believe that this process is what allows me to get better results. To be honest, I didn’t come up with this, I gathered bits and pieces of habits that successful people use in their daily lives and organized them in the way that most favorably suits me.
As I am doing this consistently for a year and a half I clearly see how this process improved my life and hope it can do the same for yours.
Lessons from this episode:
- Reviewing goals and subgoals (05:45)
- Reviewing visions (06:50)
- Journaling about my wins (08:31)
- Questioning process (10:47)
Most people set up a goal, mostly in January, as part of their New Year’s resolutions but don’t aggressively measure or track progress as often as they should.
If you look at a goal once in six months or once in a year you probably can’t expect big improvements. Let’s be realistic – it’s just not enough to measure progress and get tangible results.
If you start looking at your goals…
Once a week.
Once a day.
Just imagine how dramatic the change is!
The One Daily Ritual that will change your life
So if you want to lead a happier life, get more results, stay on track with anything you want to achieve, then I encourage you to start this daily ritual.
Spend 2 minutes looking at your yearly goals each morning.
Review your goals. See what you’re after. See how you’re doing. By actively seeing your progress on a daily basis you’ll be able to see how close you are to achieving your goals, or as goals can change, what goals you perhaps need to adjust.
Most importantly, this daily ritual will compel you to ask yourself, “What do I need to do today to get one step closer to my goal?”
This daily ritual will keep you accountable, so where you’ll end up one year from today will be very very different as opposed to not following this process.
I believe there is great power in doing something consistently.
Speaking from my personal experience, being consistent will bring you results. Doing something once a month or once a year will not really help you. Doing something weekly, or even daily – that’s where you’ll start to see real change.
Weekly Check-In Ritual That You Should Start Today
Step 1 – Reviewing goals and subgoals (05:45)
Life is not a straight line. You will go off path, you will get off balance. But doing this weekly check-in ritual will get you back on track to fix anything that’s not in alignment with achieving your goals.
And that most powerful ritual is…journaling and reflection. If you can’t manage to do it weekly, do it once in 2 weeks, but again, consistency is key to help you stay on track.
So now I’ll jump in to the actual process I do of keeping a self reflective journal.
So I personally do my weekly check-in on Saturday. It became a ‘holy’ day for me where I don’t really work, but reflect.
If you also run an online business, you know that it becomes very easy to work all the time without taking breaks — this I believe is the problem many of the people who work in online businesses have.
So getting back to my weekly check-in…
First, I begin by looking at all my yearly goals, especially my top 5 yearly goals — these are the most important goals for me to achieve this year.
But I just don’t look at the goals. I’ll read them out loud and clear, reminding myself why that goal is important.
Second, I create sub-goals. These are smaller goals for what I want to do this year, and may be less important than the bigger goals. But I like to take a look at everything I wrote down at the beginning of the year so I can keep a check on how I’m doing with my goals — big or small.
This is very important. Why? Because in a period of 3-6 months goals may change, I may change, and you may think, “Wait, I don’t want this goal anymore..” and that is perfectly fine. Reviewing your goals weekly will help you filter away what you don’t want, and bring you that much closer to what you do want.
Step 2 – Reviewing visions (06:50)
The second thing I do in my weekly check-in process is to review my visions.
I have different visions for my personal life, and I have different visions for my professional life.
One question I ask is, “What do I really want to achieve in my life?” Again, this is not just professionally, but also personally.
Some examples of personal categories include:
- Emotional Well-being
On a professional level, categories include:
- Public Speaking
- Email Marketing
For most of these categories I envision where I want to be in ten years in general, what action steps I want to take to get there and more.
This weekly review reminds me what is important to me in my life, and how I can improve and continue to grow in each area. So I’ve taken the time to setup this process because it’s very important to keep reminding yourself constantly — because let’s face it, we tend to forget.
With everything else going on, we forget what is important to us, we forget what we set out to do and that’s why every week checking in and seeing what’s important to us and adjusting and tuning is SO important.
Step 3 – Journaling about my wins (06:50)
The third thing I do is journal all of my accomplishments from the week and any great moments that really stood out.
Like I said, we tend to forget. We tend to forget our small accomplishments and small wins. So even after 5-6 days when I go to journal, I tend to forget this small win I had, this key moment of success I had, which is important.
And that’s a great feeling. Just to remind yourself of all the wins you’ve had because sometimes you think you’re not doing anything, a week goes by and you think you haven’t really done much and all a sudden you’re writing, and it hits you that, “Wow, this was actually a great week!” and that you actually got stuff done.
Now, as the weeks go by and you do this religiously week after week, at the end of the year it’s important to go back and see all of your of your accomplishments, week by week, and it makes you feel great!
I actually record all of this in a software I use called Workflowy.
I can go back, one…two…three years back, since I started doing this and I can literally see my weekly wins of what happened before, how I’ve grown and I can compare this to my future goals.
So again, in this weekly self reflective journal, I review any accomplishments, wins and successes I had in the week, and then I review everything at the end of the year or even once a quarter, and that just makes me happy and more motivated — and we all need that to keep pushing ourselves to reach our goals.
Step 4 – Questioning process (10:47)
So in this fourth step I have a list of questions that I’m constantly always asking myself.
- What did I learn last week?
- How are my important relationships doing?
- Which goals am I not progressing on and why?
- What is coming up that I need to prepare for?
- What should I do differently?
- What new skill do I need to start learning and why?
- Am I happy? If not, why so?
- How did I love last week?
- How can I get more done next week?
- Should I take some time-off?
- Am I working hard enough?
Let’s take a detailed look at each of these questions:
1. What did I learn last week?
The first question I ask myself is, “what lessons have I learned last week?” We all have lessons all the time, so I will journal about the different lessons I learned last week. This is a great way for me to capture and understand and gain insight on everything I have learned the previous week. This allows me to be better moving forward.
2. How are my important relationships doing?
The second question I ask is “how are my important relationships going?” I believe your quality of life is the quality of your relationships, so it’s very important to understand how you are doing with your relationships.
This is simply journaling about how your relationships are doing, and works as a great reminder to focus on strengthening your important relationships. If you find a relationship is not doing so good, maybe all you need to do is send a message to a friend, or make some more time for your family, if you feel that area is lacking attention.
3. Which goals am I not progressing on and why?
The third question I ask is, “which goals aren’t I making progress on?” Here I ask myself why I’m not moving forward or progressing on certain goals that I have — and I ask myself, why? And this is great actually, because sometimes we write a goal and we’re not really measuring it, or it’s not really aligned to what we want to achieve, so this really allows me to ask why this goal is stuck where it is.
Maybe I haven’t given it much attention? Maybe I don’t have a solid game plan of action? Maybe I have some fears? Maybe I have real challenges I need to work on? Asking this question helps me to identify the challenges behind why I’m not progressing.
4. What is coming up that I need to prepare for?
The fourth question I ask is, “what’s coming up that I need to prepare for?” If you’re in business you’re bound to have some kind of crisis. I know I have crises all the time. Asking this question allows me to be more prepared. Because it’s better to act when everything is relaxed, when we know we’re not under pressure, and this allows me to prepare for anything that may come up against me, empowering me to be proactive rather than reactive.
5. What should I do differently?
Fifth question, “what should I do differently?” So I think to myself and write things that I might need to do differently. Maybe I need to work differently? Maybe I need to schedule my day differently? Even if you can’t pinpoint what it is just yet, write whatever you think you may need to do differently to improve. This is a great question to ask yourself, especially if something does not go right this week, so you can improve your process for the following week.
6. What new skill do I need to start learning and why?
Sixth question, “what new skill do I need to start learning, and why?” I believe we all need to learn new skills regularly, and asking myself this question helps me to understand, which skill I need to focus on.
For example, perhaps one of the current needs of my business is to hire a lot of people, so maybe I need to get a book on hiring and learn more about the process. Asking this question helps you to hone in on what you need to learn, why you need to learn it, and actually propels you to take the action steps needed to get the skills you need to drive you to get ahead.
7. Am I happy? If not, why so?
Next question I ask is, “am I happy?” And if the answer is anything but yes, then I ask myself, “Why so?” Because, it’s important to be happy, and if something is not making you happy, asking myself this question allows me to see, why not.
Doing this on a weekly basis I can clearly see that some weeks I’m happy, and some weeks I’m less happy and if I’m less happy on certain weeks, this allows me to see the patterns of why I wasn’t happy. Or if I was happy, it allows me to see what made me happy.
This question is important because it allows you to know yourself. Knowing yourself is one of the best things you can do. Once you know yourself better, you can make adjustments, and focus on more of the things that make you happy on a regular basis.
8. How did I love last week?
The next question I ask is, “how did I love this week?”
Similar to the previous question is understanding and asking, “how was last week?”
Did you like it? Did you hate it?
And then you start to ask yourself and journal, what did you like…what did you hate? And as you journal you start to understand what you like and what you hate and that way you can slowly start improving and making adjustments, so with every passing week you can love a little bit more.
9. How can I get more done next week?
The next question I ask is, “how can I get more done this week?” So in order to be more productive, I evaluate the previous week, and then ask, “how can I get more things done this week?” And by doing this you can clearly see patterns such as, “maybe I need to focus 80/20 on the Pareto rule and do more important things?” or “maybe I need to change my schedule?” or “maybe I need to have less meetings?” or “maybe I need to have more meetings?” You get the idea.
10. Should I take some time off?
It’s important to take time off because it’s important to take care of yourself, and this will allow you to do what you do better, when you’re actually working. Most of the times you may not need to take time off, but there will be times where you can clearly see that you need to take time off.
In my case, when I see that I need some time off, I take 2-3 days off, go for a hike, take a trip, and this will energize me and allow me to perform much better, rather than just getting into active mode and getting behind a computer — because that’s not where growth comes.
11. Am I working hard enough?
Last question I ask is, “Am I working hard enough?” So, while I want to work smart, working hard is definitely important. There will be a week where I realize that I didn’t work hard enough and that I need to push a bit harder, or I might realize that I have been working hard and that’s not an area I need to improve.
So these are the kinds of questions that allow me to judge how my last week was and fix, adjust and make improvements for the upcoming week.
So, there you have it. That’s pretty much my entire weekly reflection process that I personally do (much like many other successful people).
In fact, I’ve actually constructed this process by emulating very successful people. And that’s what you do, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel again, just follow a process that is working and getting results for the people you strive to be like, and apply it to your life.
To conclude, if you want to stay on track with your goals…
Make sure to keep a self reflective journal
Make sure to do this weekly (It takes me about 1 to 1 1/2 hours to do this)
Lead a richer life, and have a richer lifestyle!