My husband and I have many goals and targets, but this one is particularly important to us:
Go on vacation at least once per year.
It’s our marriage retreat/ relaxation/rejuvenation/carpe diem getaway. It never fails, however, that while we’re abroad, we develop wild fantasies about how sweet life would be if we lived elsewhere.
I realize that we’re not alone in these musings when we talk to other folks who dream big dreams when they’re on vacation.
“Life would be better here.”
“If I lived here, I wouldn’t have xyz problems.”
“This is the good life.”
Whenever we step off a train on vacation, I’m nearly swept away by the romance of train stations — the large open areas full of bustling people, the huge skylights, the architectural wonders... it’s just like the movies! I want to live in this town!
But watch commuters wherever you visit. They look and feel the same way that commuters do where you live.
Because they’re not on vacation.
The grass is always greener on the other side of the hill, so the saying goes. Instead of trying to get over to that grass, why not cultivate and nurture the grass under your feet and make that as green as possible?
What does this have to do with productivity?
Reflection is an important part of any improvement process.
But if we focus on chasing unrealistic dreams, and we never acknowledge what we have in front of us, we pretty much just end up frustrated from chasing our tail in circles.
Too many times we try to hunt down something that won’t necessarily benefit us or that we might already have in our lives. This causes us to spend time and resources on something we don’t actually need. We will also stay frustrated and beaten down if we keep focusing on everything we haven’t done.
Of course, examining what needs to be improved and dissecting what things didn’t work and why is absolutely critical to growth and improvement, but it shouldn’t be done first.
When it is, we forget about all the great stuff we’ve done, and all that goodness just gets pushed aside and forgotten. So many times we get wrapped up in work that we forget to examine what we’ve experienced. We lose out on celebrating victories and accomplishments. We also miss out on learning from what we’ve experienced and creating new and better ways to get things done.
Our accomplishments are swept under the rug until some random person points out what we did right, and we mutter, “Oh yeah.” We spend so much time beating ourselves up for what we didn’t do yet, or for what we did wrong, that we forget to congratulate ourselves for everything that we have accomplished.
That’s not a good way to stay motivated.
When we don’t take the time to reflect with power, we often just focus on what’s left on our never-ending to-do list.
That’s definitely not motivating. We also tend to focus on what went wrong. This is also not motivating. For example, if you say something like this at the end of each day, it’s going to get depressing: “All I got done today was...”
Start with what you did get done.
You might learn that you’ve accomplished more than you ever thought you would. You just haven’t given yourself credit for it yet. When you start with what you accomplish, you’ll begin to refrain from using negative language like “all I got done” because you’ll realize how inaccurate the “all I got done” phrase is.
For those of you who journal, you know the therapeutic feeling this exercise can bring. For those of you who hate writing things down, I ask you to humor me and jot down at least a few thoughts.
The transformation that can take place when you read your own thoughts on paper (or a screen) is amazing. You look at your words, and they “sound” quite different from the words that are inside your head. Suddenly, you can find solutions to your problems as you talk and write things out.
It’s extremely important to review your life at least once per week, if not daily.
Using a personal example, based on my schedule, Friday is the best day for me. At the end of the week, I take a deep breath and think back to the events that took place during the week. I do a happy dance for everything I finished, no matter how big or small — or important or unimportant — in the grand scheme of things. If I finished something, let’s high-five it!
Here’s an example from last week:
- Got the laundry washed and folded
- Remembered to bring my reusable bags into the store with me
- Enjoyed my Saturday afternoon cooking date with my hubby
- Finished step 2 of 10 on one of my long-term projects
- Rocked the house with my killer keynote at a conference in Dallas
After acknowledging my wins, then it’s time to take a look at what needs improving. I make any necessary adjustments to tasks that didn’t go quite right, let the idea of change set in over the weekend, and then hit the ground running on Monday morning. It’s also during this reflection time that I tweak my schedule for the following week and create my action plan for Monday.
Perhaps you’d rather do this on a Saturday or Wednesday. The point is, choose a day and get your reflection on.
Take stock of:
- Lessons learned
In that order.
In the past year, I’ve begun capturing my wins in a digital document as they occur. I use this document each month when I meet with my accountability group. Capturing wins is so much more encouraging than focusing on deficits!
We are pros at picking ourselves apart. That’s why I’m repeating yet again that we must empower ourselves through reflecting first on our victories, large and small.
Plot Your Next Steps
- On what day(s) each week will you have your power reflection?
- Where will this reflection take place?
- What reminder will you set for yourself to make sure that it happens?
- How will implementing the strategies and tactics in this chapter benefit you?
About the author
Helene has been the featured productivity expert in over 100 media interviews including publications such as Woman’s Day Magazine and Money Magazine, as well as on Fox, CBS, ABC and NBC affiliates. She has coached hundreds of clients to productivity success and performance improvement by applying neuroscience and behavioral modification techniques to wipe out destructive, time-wasting habits.
Her website is www.HeleneSegura.com.