For a long time, the end of the year was my biggest cue to take stock of my life. I’d take a blank page and an hour or so to try to remember everything that happened of significance over the prior year, along with how I felt about it all. This was a helpful practice that became particularly interesting once I realized I could keep my annual reflections in one place to better track the arc of my life. (It’s fun reading through a couple years’ of high level life history!)
Then I started running a business, and I came to understand that a year is a pretty long chunk of time to manage all at once. It’s easier to look at things as a couple mini-sections- quarters work very nicely here! I also learned that pausing to take correspondingly mini reflections throughout the year helps me to check if things are on course along the way, instead of waiting until December.
This year I’ve stepped out of my regularly scheduled work life twice- at the end of Q1 and Q2- to consider what I’d accomplished and to look ahead to what’s next. In both instances, this time has been a welcome break and a productive endeavor. I see things that I would have otherwise missed. I acknowledge things that I might have skipped over in my desire to accomplish more. And I get to more fully flesh out my vision for the rest of the year.
You may not run your own business, but I’d highly recommend taking a little time each quarter to look at where you’ve been and where you want to go. This advice is most relevant to those of you who are super busy. By giving yourself this type of time you’ll get to look at your life from a bigger picture perspective, rather than an ‘I just need to answer this next email’ type of perspective. I promise it will be a welcome and helpful reprieve.
Here’s how to do it.
Set Aside Time + Then Protect It
I mark off time on my calendar and client scheduler months in advance with my quarterly reflection times. I let my assistants know that I’ll be away from email. And, when inevitable last minute requests come in, I treat the time as though I were actually away at a conference. Nothing gets in.
Note Accomplishments + Consistently Track a Few Meaningful Items
During my reflection time I look through my calendar to help remember everything that I’ve been working on and what I’ve accomplished. I also note things that are important life events. For example, this quarter I got to proudly note that I was right on track to double my business from the prior year, and I got my first strict pullup! It was nice to take time to acknowledge these and other events that had happened in the last few months.
I also have a couple quantifiable items that I track each quarter. These are primarily business oriented in my case, but you could easily note your own meaningful items, like the number of times you got to visit a loved one or take an awesome vacation. Pick whatever is important to you, and try to find a quantifiable way to measure it. Then you can check how you do with these items across different quarters.
Give Yourself Time to Dream
This is one of my favorite parts of reflective time. Once I’ve looked at where I’ve been, it’s natural to start looking ahead to the future. For my business I try to notice what’s working or not working and any places I could improve. But, again, you could apply this idea to any part of your life.
What would be cool to do next? What comes to mind when you give yourself time to stare into the distance? I’m always amazed at what’s lurking at the edges of my brain that only comes to light when I pause and give myself permission to dream.
I hope this gives you some ideas for how to push pause and reflect on your own life. My final note would be to keep all your quarterly reflections in one place. Can’t wait to do this again in Q3!
How often do you take time to reflect on your life? Are you interested in giving this ‘quarterly reflection’ system a try? Leave a comment below!