How often do you stop everything you are doing to just think?
Or to take it one step further, to think, evaluate and plan out your day, week, month, year, future etc. If you are like me, the answer is probably that you don’t. As I reflected on this question a few months ago, I realized that I spend much more time planning the perfect vacation than I spend planning out my life (which is far from perfect). And by “planning” I don’t mean making never ending to-do lists, but instead actively evaluating different aspects of my life and thinking through what the actual steps are to reach my goals. For example, I like to think through what types of people do I need to proactively surround myself with, what commitments do I need to follow-through on, what places do I want travel to next, what areas of my life are causing me anxiety and what is my plan to address it, and of course, where do I want to take myself next professionally,
As you can see, I am never short on things to think about, and to be honest because even thinking can be overwhelming, I somehow have lived a life where I consider these things on the fly instead of spending real time “thinking” and “planning.”
So, I have recently made a decision to change this. I am now committed to taking roughly an hour each week to stop what I am doing, drop my phone and to just THINK. The first few weeks it was tough, but I am now starting to enjoy the time writing and mapping out my life. I use a journal for this exercise, because using my phone or computer is too distracting. Here are a few of the specific questions I seek to answer every week, although these are personal for me, (you are free to borrow some!)
- What are my must do items for this week? How will I make sure I accomplish them?
- What did I procrastinate on and not accomplish last week? Why did I put them off and what can I do to ensure these things get done this week? (note: procrastination is a bad habit I am working on so it’s important for me to call myself out on this on this)
- Who are the people I want to contact this week and why? (I believe networking in some form should never stop)
- What new ideas do I have? How can I put them into motion? (one great idea can change your life—just ask Sara Blakey, the inventor of Spanx—and the youngest self-made billionaire.)
- What areas of my life are problematic or make me feel anxious, nervous, fearful, etc? What are my options to improve these situations? (You always have options.)
- Have I hurt or angered anyone this week? What can I do to change how they currently feel towards me?
- How do I feel about my job this week? What went well? What could have gone better?
- How did I manage my finances this week? Did I overspend? If so, what was it driven by? How can I get back on course?
- How many times did I work out this past week? What is my fitness plan/goal this week?
- Did I meet anyone this week who I am interested in romantically? If so, what can I do this week to show interest? If I haven’t met anyone, how can I open myself to meeting someone new this week? (Life is all about balance and my love life needs some attention too!)
- Did I have fun this week? If not, why? If yes, what made it fun and how can I continue it into next week?
- What was the highlight of my week? What the lowest point of my week?
- What do I want to accomplish this month, this year, etc? What are the steps to make it happen? (I don’t always address this question every week, but I’m thinking about it, updating it, and planning for it).
I found taking time to think about the answer to these questions, and plan for the weeks, months, and years forward gives me the type of clarity and perspective for my life and my future that I so desperately have needed. In a day and age where it’s impossible to put down our phones, I challenge everyone to do so, and to just take time and THINK. It’s a simple concept, that can truly change your life.