Hi everyone, it’s Stephen and welcome to our final video of our 6-Week reset course. In the previous weeks we’ve looked at some tips on how best to plan and complete our goals. For our last video we’ll be finishing off the ‘mindful action’ section of our model and examining the ‘review’ part of the plan-do-review cycle.
I can’t emphasise how much of an impact reviewing and reflecting on your progress can be to your practice – it’s honestly the thing that’s made the largest difference to me in terms of self-growth, self-awareness and being able to achieve my goals.
Looking back over previous work in a reflective manner with the aim of personal growth is rarely done, and when it is done, it’s rarely done well. I think back to the times when I’ve had to write a ‘reflective essay’ in courses I’ve completed… which often felt like a tick-box exercise. However, when reflection is done through the lens of self-improvement, and using the mindsets that we covered in previous videos, then it can be a hugely enlightening practice.
For the next few minutes, we’ll talk about what reviewing or reflection looks like in this context and how best to set yourself up to succeed in this area. When reviewing your progress it’s important to have the mindsets we discussed in Week 3 at the forefront of your mind. As a reminder, these were:
- Focus on what you can control
- Aim for slow and steady progress
- Be your own detective
Tweak small, reflect often
The first thing we want to do is not only schedule time to plan and do the activities on your to-do list, but also to schedule time to reflect. Shorter, frequent, focused reflection practice is what we’re aiming for, so that it becomes part of our everyday habits.
Perhaps you reflect on your day just before you go to bed, or you take a couple of minutes to reflect just before you write your daily goals in the morning… however you do it, aim to keep these cycles short.
We don’t want reflection to be an arduous weekly 3 hour session that we’ll probably end up never doing… 2 minutes everyday should be more than enough for you to identify some areas for celebration and some for improvement.
So, when you’re planning your goals, have a time in mind for when you’ll review your progress. Often for me I’ll reflect over my day, identify any tweaks and plan my goals for the next day just before I go to sleep. The whole thing rarely takes more than 5 minutes, but because I do this most days (I don’t quite manage everyday!) then it’s just part of my night-time routine.
Review and Reflect
So, you know what your goals are and you know when you’re going to review your progress. Let’s imagine the goal we want to introduce is to do at least 30 minutes of yoga each morning straight after you get up. We try this for a week and at the end of the week we managed to do this 2 out of 7 days and we’d like to work on improving this for next week. Time to put our detective hat on…
Firstly, what went well? When we look at the 2 days we managed to do our 30 minutes of yoga we can see that they were at the beginning of the week – we were highly motivated to take on this new goal. We also knew what video lessons we were doing beforehand and were keen to use our new yoga gear we bought especially for this new challenge.
So, what happened with the rest of the week? One day we forgot to set our alarm so we overslept, another we couldn’t remember where we put our yoga gear and we even spent the 30 minutes one morning trying to decide one the video we wanted to do. By the fifth day we had just lost all motivation.
Now, there’s already a lot in there that you can probably identify as tweaks that you would make, but it’s important we understand a little of our own human psychology around change, so we stack the deck in our favour before making any changes.
Head, Heart, Hands
One of the best books I’ve read on change management is ‘Switch’ by Chip and Dan Heath. In ‘Switch’ the Heath brothers suggest the best approach to managing change projects is to engage with people’s emotional brain, their rational brain and the environment. They use the metaphor of the elephant, the rider and the path and we’re going to use a similar approach for our own personal improvement.
In working with my clients on the topic of their self-improvement, I use an adapted model inspired by ‘Switch’ to ensure that we’re looking at all of the right aspects of change – I call this the ‘Head, Heart and Hand’ approach.
The idea with this approach is to just have these 3 things in mind when trying to implement a change or a new habit. Let’s look at this with our Yoga example from earlier.
The ‘Head’ aspect covers the analytical and organisational side of change. Ideally, we want to reduce the cognitive load associated with change as much as possible. Our heads love a map and a destination. Breaking our goals down to make them as clear and as easy as possible will put us in a good spot for succeeding. If not, there is a tendency for our heads to over-analyse and get overwhelmed by the number of possibilities.
In our example, our overall goal is set out helpfully – it’s clear and binary. You either do 30 minutes of yoga or you don’t. There’s very little analytical work for our brain to do here. In our reflection of the week we can also see that we fell victim to over-analysis one day and couldn’t pick a yoga video to do, so we ended up not achieving our goal… however the days where we’d picked the video beforehand, so we just had to wake up and press play, were more successful. So perhaps that’s our first tweak for next week.
Next, we’ll look at the ‘Heart’ which covers the emotional and motivational aspects of change. If we’re not careful, this is where procrastination occurs because the heart always wants to do the activities that are the most desirable in the short-term – it follows the path of least resistance. However, if you can make your goals desirable, fun and energising, then the heart is a powerful driving force in change.
We can see from our reflection that motivation is high on the list for reasons we did the yoga as well as why we didn’t. Relying on our natural motivation, energy levels and mood on any given day isn’t very reliable, but if we’re able to increase how desirable the goal is… then maybe we can also improve our motivation.
This is highlighted by the fact that we wanted to try out our shiny new yoga gear on the first couple of days. Obviously, we can’t keep buying new yoga gear each day to motivate us, but perhaps there are other ways we can make the activity more desirable in the short-term.
Personally, I find setting random, black and white rules a useful approach to engage the heart here – perhaps we try saying to ourselves that we’re not allowed to look at our phones, eat breakfast, or have a cup of tea before we’ve done yoga in the morning. Or, could we give ourselves a treat if we’re able to do 7 days in a row?
If after a few weeks you’re still struggling with this, then I find the sillier, more novel and more fun I can make an activity, the better. Maybe one day you decide that it’s Christmas yoga day and you have to wear a Christmas jumper and Santa hat with Christmas songs in the background for the 30 minutes. Or a different day it’s Peaky Blinders yoga day where you wear a flat cap and have to say “Tommy” in a Brummie accent after every instruction… Get creative and have some fun with it.
Finally, the ‘Hands’ reflects the practical and environmental aspects of change. We want to make it as easy and convenient as possible to complete our goals, whilst making any possible distractions as difficult as possible to fall victim to.
So, how can we set out the environment to support us with our yoga goal? Our reflection highlights a couple of factors that we can explore here – firstly, one day we forgot to set an alarm. This can be easily rectified by setting a recurring alarm, so we don’t have to remember to set it each night. Or setting it again for the next morning as soon as we get up.
Secondly, we weren’t able to find our yoga gear on one of the mornings, so making sure we put our yoga clothes next to our bed the night before and we have our mat rolled out and ready to go will smooth our path. Keeping distractions to a minimum will also help here – we want to be able to set our environment up so that everything says “yoga” until we’ve completed that task.
Look at the System
With this approach, we’re acting like a detective and looking at the system that we have in place. Once we make things as smooth as possible and as attractive as possible to do, we’re a lot more likely to do them. You’ll also notice that at no point during this process are we blaming ourselves for not achieving the goals. We’re looking at the system we have in place and are trying to tweak it to our advantage.
Some of the ideas you come up with might work, some won’t – the key is that we reflect and drop what doesn’t work for us and keep what does. As long as we have realistic goals that we care about, we’ll be heading in the right direction if we’re considering the head, heart and hands of change.
Once we’ve reflected on our previous day/week/month goals, we can then begin planning our tweaks for next time and beginning the plan-do-review cycle again.
And those, folks, are some tips on how to review and reflect on our progress. If there’s one thing that you do differently in your practice as part of this course, I’d recommend it’s this. It can make such a big difference in all facets of your growth, improvement and awareness. Let me know how it goes.
There will be two worksheets this week – one which provides a bit more detail on reviewing and reflecting, and one which brings all of the lessons from the course together that you can use going forwards.
So, we’ve come to the end of our reset course. If you’ve made it this far, thank you for sticking with it – hopefully there have been some useful tips and tricks that you’ve found valuable and that you’ll take on into your life from this point on.
If you have found the course valuable, then please consider passing it on and sharing it with a friend you think it might benefit. Also, I’d really appreciate any feedback on this course using the link in the description – it would be great and would be a massive help to me in doing more of what works for people in the future.
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Thanks a lot, everyone, and good luck with your goals for the rest of the year. I’ll see you soon.