My fundamental assumptions about life seem to grow and change every single day. As I experience more, they become further refined. I hesitate to say that I’m sure of anything in life as I have been proven wrong time and time again.
The set of things that I’d even speculate are true is a very small set. They have been shaped by my experiences, so there will always be some level of subjectivity. One of the core, hopefully objective, beliefs I hold is that self-improvement needs to be a consistent process to be effective.
The greatest leaders in the world work day after day after day at refining their skills. There is no magic pill that will allow someone to achieve their goal without putting in the work.
We get feedback on our strengths and weaknesses on an hourly basis. Being aware of what is working and what is not working is paramount to making any kind of improvement.
Unfortunately for most people, this kind of feedback is reactive in the form of a yearly review. Reviews are an amazing way of summarizing the year and helping the individual focus on areas of improvement, but it should not be the only method of feedback a person receives. Someone who grades themselves even once a week has 51 more opportunities to examine themselves and grow than someone who relies solely upon a year review.
This kind of weekly self review is something I’ve been trying to implement for a long time. I started doing it, like I start many things, on an ad-hoc basis. Going off of sporadic memory worked for the first few times, but I quickly forgot to do it and missed great opportunities for growth.
I had forgotten about reviewing myself each week until I read this article: 1 Weekly Habit That Will Push You to Peak Performance By Laura Garnett. Though it is not a silver bullet, it is a quick and effective method to improving performance. It takes around five minutes of my time, and has paid huge dividends in the month I’ve been doing it.
Every Friday, I open up a Google Spreadsheet that has 15 questions on that week’s sheet. I think about the week I’ve had, then answer the questions as honestly as I can. Then on the following Monday I take a look at my responses to determine what I need to work on in the coming week. The questions I respond to are as follows:
- What was the most enjoyable activity?
- # of enjoyable moments?
- # of frustrating or boring moments?
- Impact on coworkers, customes, etc.?
- Is this the type of impact I want?
- What could change this impact?
- Was I challenged?
- Was I bored?
- What was the biggest and most exciting challenge?
- How is my confidence level?
- Is there any negative mental chatter?
- Did I think I could accomplish my goals this week?
- Am I committed to having joy and making an impact?
- Were there any distractions that prevented me from achieving my goals?
- Are there ways to avoid those distractions?
After a month of doing this, I’ve found some interesting trends in my responses. I tend to focus only on myself, and not think about how my actions will affect others. This manifests itself by me immediately answering a technical question instead of teaching the person asking the question the skills they could use to figure it out themselves. I also tend to under-communicate when problems arise.
The process itself is very refreshing. Because I am the one that owns my mistakes, I am the one that can fix them. It’s also important to be as honest as possible when answering the 15 questions. You are the only one that will see them, and you are the only one that can hold yourself accountable for your responses. If you gloss over areas of weakness, you are just hurting yourself.
I’m always looking for ways to improve myself. If anyone has tips or articles like this, please share them in the comments.
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