Scott H Young

Seven Days


What did you do in the past seven days?

What things did you learn? What life lessons did you draw from them? How has your life improved from their passing? Where did you succeed? Where did you have an opportunity to learn from your mistakes? What challenges did you face?

One of the most effective techniques I can offer for putting your life on track is the weekly review. I usually take an hour or two on Sunday to carefully examine the preceding week and ask myself the above questions. Everything I did wrong in the past week I take steps to learn from so I won’t repeat those mistakes. I will also examine my successes looking to see what strengths I possess allowed me to make those small accomplishments.

This postmortem of a week will allow you to have some clear insight into your progress or lack thereof. If you can’t find anything you’ve learned from the past week then it was wasted. When you take a look at your past week, looking at what you have learned and how you have improved yourself, you can really see how appropriately you are using your time.

Just remember that this week has past. Don’t beat yourself up about wasted time or your failures, focus instead on how you can use that knowledge to avoid succumbing to the same faults in the week ahead.

Use this process to motivate you in your week ahead. Looking back at your past week can be a very motivating exercise because it gives you the tools to put into focus what is important to you. Now that you know what you did wrong, and more importantly, why it went wrong, you can take steps to change so that the week ahead will be better.

The next step is to decide what you want to accomplish in the week ahead. Decide what you want to pay attention to and focus on. Using the problems you encountered last week, come up with solutions to possible problems that might come up in the week ahead. So if you had a dietary goal and blew it on a bag of Oreo’s, then come up with some steps to preventing that from happening in the next week.

Using these week blocks for reflection and planning can be ideal. Often times people only use the calender year blocks (which explains all those New Years Resolutions!) to reflect and plan. While I think that yearly reviews are an excellent practice, I believe that doing a similar form of reflection every week can allow you to make improvements far more readily.

While I also advocate short daily review times, I don’t find them as significant as the weekly review. It is unpractical for most people to spend a few hours reviewing their day. More importantly, a day is often too short to see the larger accomplishments or behavioral trends that we can see in a week. Occasionally we can have a big interruption which can throw much of our day. However over the course of seven days, if each day gets off-course from an interruption we can see a larger trend which needs attention.

Use this week to really reconnect with your long-term and mid-range goals. This is the time to review and make adjustments or add new ones. Taking your long-term goals into account can allow you to effectively plan out your week to move you closer to achieving them.

For example, if you have a goal to own your own business by a certain date, then what steps can you take in the next week to move you closer to that goal? At the very least you could try to read a book on operating your own business.

So allot yourself a period of time each week, completely undisturbed when you can spend some time reflecting on your past week and planning for the week ahead. Don’t tell me you’re too busy. You are too busy not to spend some time reflecting about your past week. Doing this review might be the most important thing you do all week, so I’m sure in the 168 hours per week you can find one or two to do this.

How was your last seven days?


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14 Responses to “Seven Days”

  1. Xin says:

    Hi Scott.

    This is a great piece of advice. I have been this on and off mostly for social encounters. This helps me to horn my social skills. It is definitely worth doing. The chanllenge is doing this review every week!

    Just a quick question for you if I may. I find discipline hard at times. Doing what I should be doing. Focusing on that 20%. How do you discipline yourself?

    Cheers,
    Xin

  2. Scott Young says:

    Thanks for the comments, Xin!

    Part of the solution is discipline. The other part is motivation.

    If you create an emotionally compelling reason to do what is important, then you will do it.

    For example, if I tell you that I am going to kill you if you don’t do what is important, you’ll do it, won’t you?

    Discipline can be built by training it. Don’t expect yourself to be perfectly disciplined, just focus on becoming just a little more disciplined at a time. Most of personal growth is on optimization not fancy secrets. Just understand discipline is a skill like anything else.

    The weekly review is incredibly important to your upcoming week, so I would ensure you have plenty of time to do it. Plan out a lot of time, because even if you spend three or four hours on it, the review would easily pay for itself in saved time.

    And in case you say you don’t have enough time:
    http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2006/03/04/how-much-time-do-you-have/

  3. Xin says:

    Motivation is extremely important. One of my goals is to practise yoga daily. Whenever my motivation begins to falter, I say to myself “Come on! It’ll make me feel great. Healthy body, healthy mind!”. I kind of knew what I was doing, but didn’t too, if you’re with me. Thanks for reminding me how significant that is.

    My discipline has been improving since I realized what I was doing: rationalizing. I now either will myself, or motivate myself to do something I had planned out to do. I find thinking discipline in terms of freedom helps enormously. This is opposed to thinking of it as limiting. Discipline is doing what is important, and what will benefit me the most in the long run, rather than succumbing to the impulses.

  4. Scott Young says:

    You should read my latest entry at:

    http://www.scotthyoung.com/blog/2006/03/08/set-an-unbreakable-standard/

    It is about this very phenomena you are describing. Discipline is the ability to work through short-term pain to gain long-term pleasure.

    It is important to note that discipline won’t work if you don’t believe there is more long-term pleasure than short-term pain. I know this sounds a bit obvious, but if you try to just use willpower where there is no desire or motivation, you won’t get far.

  5. [...] Seven Days – Take time each week to plan out your future and review your progress. The weekly review has been one of the key techniques for shaping my life and I think that everybody should start right now. It doesn’t matter how fast you are going if it is in the wrong direction! [...]

  6. arvind says:

    great advice.
    I have read your 3 articles.
    All of them are excellent.

  7. [...] Internal Review – Basically this means self-reflection. Internal review is done by carefully analyzing your current behavior. While I am a big fan of the weekly review as a method for analysis, this process should really be done all the time. Whenever you see yourself doing something you don’t feel is a good habit, recognize it as such in your mind. When you pick up that donut at work, even if you can’t stop the habit, notice that this isn’t good for your health. Another method for internal review is through measurement. By using an objective measurement system, often times our true behaviors will come through. If you aren’t sure whether you have some bad habits in an area, try measuring the habit. If you think you might have some bad eating habits, record what and how much you eat for an entire week. This kind of measurement allows you to uncover habits that you didn’t know even existed. [...]

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  9. max night says:

    For some reason the title of this post made me think about creationism. You dont have to, but it would be quite compelling to see what kind of theologic arguments you have or theologic agreements you have.

  10. [...] spent any length of time on this blog you will know that I am just a little fanatical about doing weekly reviews. A weekly review basically takes the process of reviewing all of your implementations for the past [...]

  11. SANJAY SHARMA says:

    hello,

    very nice article and i thanks to you. i just read only 2-3 articlesand all are excellent. this is my first time and i am become fan of you.

    thanks for these articles,

    sanjay sharma, india

  12. Ola says:

    hi scott, thanks for the great article. i have set a few goals for myself lately and i believe a weekly review is exactly what i need. i keep daily to do lists and i think a checklist of what i have achieved in the last week would be equally helpful.

    the key to this method is not to beat yourself up when you realize that you wasted a week as this might be counter-productive. having this kind of deadline is great to keep yourself motivated (well, at least for me!) even if you slack off for 6 days, you’d want to maximise your efforts on the 7th day so you could avoid the feeling of not accomplishing anything at your review. it’s like having a paper due in 7 days and writing everything on the night before it’s due!

  13. Ashley says:

    I’m going to start implementing this weekly review. I also was just reading Peter Drucker’s essay “Managing Oneself”, and he recommended to write down one’s expectations before engaging in a key action or making a key decision. Then annually or so, compare the actual results with your expectations. The goal of this analysis is to identify strengths, although it would complement your weekly review of what you’ve learned and how you’ve grown.

Debate is fine, flaming is not. Pretend that this comment form is a discussion taking place in my house. That means I enjoy constructive criticism and polite suggestions. Personal attacks, insults and all-purpose nastiness will be removed especially if it is directed at other readers.

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