If you want to create new and compelling vision or refresh what it is you’re doing and where you’re going, take some time to look back first.
When you look back, a couple of important things happen:
#1) YOU REMEMBER
Things move so quickly that it’s often difficult to remember what happened. Life is a blur. Take some time to intentionally remember what has happened over the past 12 months.
Tim Ferriss shared in a recent podcast about an exercise he has done where he goes back over his calendar, and evaluates what things he did over the past year were in the “PLUS” category, and which things were in the “NEGATIVE” category, meaning they took him away from his vision as opposed to pushing him towards his vision. To do this, you need to actively use a calendar program or a detailed journal program.
I use the calendar on my computer to manage my day, week and month. It’s easy to look back and see appointments, block time scheduling, vacation time, and to-do lists. This is a great evaluation tool.
As you do this, look for patterns, look for times in the past year that you felt the most in alignment, and look at your best seasons of productivity.
#2) YOU MAKE CHANGES
When you look back, it’s easier to see some of the traps you were stuck in, or some of the bad decisions you made.
In my life, I had a rough travel year last year. While I was in it, I was in survival mode, just getting from one thing to the next. Now, in looking back, it’s easier to see how I allowed that to happen, and it’s easier to plan forward avoiding these same mistakes.
One example is that last year, we didn’t take the effort to plan a family vacation. We had a number of opportunities with our family, but we squeezed it between a pretty full schedule. This year, the first things that was scheduled on the calendar was a family vacation. It’s booked, set in ink, and the family is committed to it. Now, I can make decisions around that, instead of letting other things crowd out a priority that my wife and I have put in place.
#3) YOU FIGURE OUT WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT
I don’t like living with regret, but the reality is that all of us think about the things we “wish” we had done in the past. When you look back, your priorities become clearer.
I can look at my schedule from the past year, and I can tell you based on where I spent the majority of my time and energy, what was the most important thing in my work life.
I want to challenge you to figure out what is most important. When you look back, you’re able to see where you drifted out of alignment, where you spent time doing things that didn’t move you towards your vision. Looking back helps you avoid making some of the same mistakes again and again.
Last year, I decided at the last-minute to make a trip. It wasn’t a priority for me, and it wasn’t necessary for me to be there, but I allowed it to creep into my schedule. The trip was fine, but what the effect of that trip impacted me: I was tired and weary from travel, I was away from my family, I had to catch up on important tasks that I put off because I was gone, and I missed some things in my normal routine that I need! It affected me, yet, in the moment I didn’t see all of that. Looking back, I can see it crystal clear. This year, I want to avoid making these same mistakes.
As you create, refresh or adjust your VISION, don’t forget to look back. We can learn a lot from looking at past decisions, past experiences and our past schedule.
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