You Need a Regular Review
why looking back is critical
When’s the last time you took a look backward at your life?
The end of the calendar year? Perhaps your birthday?
Was it difficult to remember what you’d accomplished? How you’d grown and changed?
Taking regular time to review your life, including your work, your rest, and your relationships, is an important part of Impactivity. For one thing, it allows you to recognize and celebrate with gratitude the work you’ve been able to accomplish, the growth you see in your life, and the people that you’ve loved and served well.
But reviewing the days and weeks also serves another purpose--it enables us to see what isn’t working, and gives us a chance to intentionally course-correct.
### But there is a danger…
There is a danger in looking backward at our recent actions and interactions, however. For purposeful people like us, it’s easy to make a strong connection between our accomplishments and our identity. We start rehashing what we've gotten done, and then using it as a means to feel like we are worthwhile. We wrap up our identity in the things that we've done. And that’s when we are likely to get in trouble.
Many of us exist in a place where we feel like we're never getting enough done. Reviewing can reassure us that we are making progress, but what is ”enough”? How do we determine what is enough and whether we should feel good about what we've done, and consequently feel good about ourselves?
Depending on how productive or successful a day/week/month we’ve had, we’ll tempted to either feel prideful over our accomplishments (although probably not often, because we rarely feel we’re “enough”) or to feel a bit of hostility toward ourselves and start questioning our value because we don't like what we see.
It's critical to both pause and reflect on our lives. But it's easy to do it for the wrong reasons, and it's easy for it to lead us into a negative place, causing us to feel guilt or shame, or even resentment toward the people and circumstances that have gotten in our way.
### So how do we do it right?
That temptation to equate our worth as people with what we get done will always be there. So for one thing, it's important to give ourselves grace when we review. And realize that life is often crazy and unexpected.
But more importantly, we must keep the two purposes for reviewing our life foremost in our minds:
We review to celebrate and feel gratitude for the progress we’ve made in all areas of our life
We review to get high-level insight into our everyday actions, so we can course-correct and become more of the person we believe God wants us to be
That’s it. Celebrate and make intentional changes. Not to feel pride in our own strength or to beat ourselves up.
’s all about impactivity
We’ve talked about celebrating in other places, but how do we go about this course-correcting after times of review?
Our times of review actually connect to all the elements of Impactivity. It’s in these times that we…
Reconnect with our Dream and remember why we’re pursuing it (it’s easy to forget those purposes when we are down in the trenches getting things done)
Check in with ourselves to see if we need to Unshackle from anything that’s keeping us from moving forward (have we gotten caught up in other people’s adventures, or taken on responsibilities that aren’t ours?)
Take a high-level look at our Design to make sure we’re still on track and see if change is needed (do we remember the strategies we’re using?)
Assess our habits, our daily organization, and how well we’re focusing to see if we could be Igniting better
Make sure we’re taking adequate time to Recharge our energy and Connect with the people we love.
And sometimes, the day or week or month wasn’t what we’d hoped for, but our times of review can show us that our slower-than-desired progress was really outside our control, and that perhaps the things that did happen were even better!
### How to track
Some of us need to carefully track what we've been doing, perhaps on a daily basis with small notes, so that we are able to look back and remember even at the end of the week. If you’re juggling lots of different responsibilities and roles, you may find that getting something down to help you remember is necessary.
Others of us just have a gut feeling of whether or not we've made progress, and can take those weekly or monthly times to make notes for use on a quarterly or annual basis.
Again, the key is being self-aware. Do whatever it takes for you to be able to look back on a periodic basis and know whether changes need to be made (and also to celebrate the good stuff!).
Here are some ideas:
Journaling - obviously the best idea is to write things down on a daily or weekly basis. If you like to journal, make it part of your daily habits, and perhaps get yourself a special journal for your Impactivity life.
Talking - if you’re more of a verbal processor who likes to connect with people, find someone (spouse, friend, counselor) to review with each week, and then jot down a few notes after you’ve had time to get your thoughts together by sharing them with someone else.
Go digital - create an online document where you can list out a few bullet points or thoughts each day and/or week. Or create a Google form for yourself, where you can submit your answers each day and have them stored in a Google spreadsheet you can access later.
Use the Weekend Watershed - if you’re using the Weekend Watershed process (available below), you’ll have some kind of plan for your week, plus a time set aside to review. Each weekend, use that sheet to make notes on the highlights of the previous week, and then file it in a folder to pull out on a quarterly or annual basis.
With all of these ideas, the key is to lower the barriers and make it as easy as possible to do it regularly.
Then set a reminder or establish it as part of your Habit Chain for a certain time of day.
Then when it’s time for a longer review (like your Personal Annual Retreat!), you’ll be ready with lots of information to help you continue to pursue the unique Adventure of your life.