Reviewing workflow and system had been high on my priority list this year. The general idea is that if I get it more streamlined, it will definitely maximise my productivity and performance. More importantly, it keeps all my projects and tasks in check and I always have a bird-eye view when it comes to achieving my goals. It is one of the 20% things that would yield 80% results. Planning is one of those things that are often classified as “important” but not “urgent” in the classic matrix. But it is the area that we should all prioritise and spend time on, in order to keep the whole productivity engine going.
Quoting from “The Motivation Myth”, after we set a big goal (however “unrealistic” it seems), we should just forget about it and focus on the process instead. The goal always chooses the process. If you want to lose 20 pounds, such goal chooses the process of what exercise and what diet you need to go for, and the frequency of it. After taking the leap to quit my corporate job, I knew I needed a better system and better journalling prompts to make sure I was ahead of the game. I needed to create the ideal future self through imagination, clarity and execution. Besides the productivity system and task list I set up on Notion, I have been tweaking my quarterly, monthly and weekly reflection to track my productivity and performance.
Sometimes it is not just about how much output we could produce in a given period. Our mindset and mental health matter a lot too. Hence I was looking for some prompts that would make me reflect on my mindset and mentality, and signal my brain success that would kick off the feedback loop.
How did we get to where we are today?
This year I have been doing my quarterly reflection based on the ideas from Benjamin Hardy, one of my favourite bloggers on personal development (love his scientific approach and no-BS advice). The main idea behind setting goals, visualising and planning the future is that your future self defines who you are and what you do now. Contrary to the popular belief, our past does not necessary need to shape who we are, or explain why we behave in certain ways. It depends on the meaning we give to our past selves.
A little mistake you made yesterday would not make you a “failure”.
A traumatic past would not make you a “victim”.
Essentially, we are 100% free to intrepret our past. Hence it can be lessons that help you move forward, or you can let it bound you, define you and say “this is who I am because xyz happened”.
“Your current sense of “normal” is what you presently believe you deserve.”
The whole idea of regular reflection and goalsetting is all part of reverse engineering from your vision. I am where I am now because I set goals to move towards the ideal direction 3 months ago. My future self tells me what I do now. My future self crafts the process for me to work on. The path is always clear.
Upgrade yourself every 90 days
Here are the 4 questions Benjamin listed out for quarterly review, originally from Dan Sullivan:
1 Winning achievements – Looking back over the past quarter, what are the things that make you the proudest about what you have achieved?
2 What’s hot? – When you look at everything that’s going on today, which areas of focus and progress are making you the most confident?
3 Bigger and better – Now, looking ahead at the next quarter, what new things are giving you the greatest sense of excitement?
4 What are the five new ‘jumps’ you can now achieve that will make your next 90 days a great quarter regardless of what else happens?
If you look at the questions more carefully, you will notice they are carefully designed to bring one point: you are in complete control of your growth. It is all about the goals and achievement you set for yourself, and you are measuring them every quarter with your past self (the gain), not the ideal self (the gap). The questions removed any excuse you might have about everything happening around you. I went through this set of questions 3 times this year and I was proud to say that the pandemic did not slow me down.
Do you have an internal locus of control? That is, do you attribute success to your own efforts and abilities; or do you think your success happened due to luck or fate, and you are not in control of that?
This year might have been really crap. But you do not need to waste time and take a “gap year”. What skills have you acquired during lockdown, working from home, or even when you’re jobless? What realisations did you have following the pandemic? What are you in control of?
Make the last 3 months of 2020 your greatest quarter ever. You have the power.