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Every month I review my goals and reflect on my progress, practices, and mindset. Looking back, I note that in 7 of the 9 last months, I was pretty disappointed in myself. There were always lots that wasn't going to plan. Everything always took longer to finish than I’d expected.
30 replies and sub-replies as of Apr 23 2020

But I also do a quarterly review. I ask myself ~the same questions as in the monthly reflections, but over a longer time horizon. Looking back now, I see that in 3 of the 4 last quarters, I’d been thrilled (and surprised) by how much I’d achieved and how well things were going!
One common pattern each quarter: “3 months ago, I wasn’t even thinking about XYZ, but now I’ve done XYZ++!” It’s odd that my quarterly reflections are so consistently bright, while my monthly reflections are so consistently glum. I’m not sure how to explain this contradiction!
Many rightly asked: so why do the monthly reviews? Unfortunately, they also yield useful insights! e.g. I might reflect that I'm spending too much time on "duty," and I'll plan some changes to try in the next month. I think it's the evaluative, KPI-ish stance I need to drop.
Strong disagree. The negative reflection helps drive your three month progress. But I tend to favor the never good enough growth model, despite its obvious harmful connotations.
It might be a manifestation of the human tendency to overestimate how much we can accomplish in the short term and underestimate how much we can accomplish in the long term with consistent effort. Usually I see it in the context of 1 vs 5 years, maybe it's timescale independent.
Haha yeah my take is that somehow paradoxically-fractally it's true on multiple scales. As @andy_matuschak notes, that's partially due to unknowns: you'll do more than you intended, but lots of it will be different than what you intended to do Also nonlinear effects.
I run New Years' workshops called the Goal Crafting Intensive & for 2020 we added a decade module, for which I wrote about the paradox here:
I'm glad you do this and have similar challenges to me re: reflection! I'd be curious your format. I keep a purposefully simple spreadsheet. I've found it helps recall small successes that I might fail to otherwise. I should perhaps add a monthly written reflection as well.
The top larger boxes record the overarching goals for each category whilst goal/progress are actionable lower bound targets for the given month. Decomposing larger goals to more bite sized pieces is a win as it's small achievable success at worst and a chance to gloat at best ;)
At least for my aspirations, prose is crucial. I find that spreadsheet-izable KPIs miss much of what I care about. More:
roughly: 1. What did I do this [period]? 2. How did I live this [period]? What did it feel like to be me? (socially, emotionally, intellectually, creatively) 3. Looking at what I intended to do and the way I intended to be, what's the diff? 4. What do I want to try?
Out of curiosity, what are the questions you ask yourself?
roughly: 1. What did I do this [period]? 2. How did I live this [period]? What did it feel like to be me? (socially, emotionally, intellectually, creatively) 3. Looking at what I intended to do and the way I intended to be, what's the diff? 4. What do I want to try?
Same. I now think of it as: always track what you're doing (weekly/monthly), but save the analysis and reflection for longer horizons (quarterly/yearly). Otherwise too short to build meaningful narratives
A place where tighter feedback loops might not be contextually “better”.
I really like the track/analyze distinction. I find that weekly/monthly course changes in response to those reflections really *are* helpful, though, and really do add up! I wouldn't want to make those changes only quarterly. Not sure how to have my cake and eat it too.
Possibly a distinction to be made between checking in on the success of systems vs checking in on the success of goals? It seems like the former can be done more frequently to make course corrections, while the later needs to be done on a longer time scale
I see what you mean! I still make tactical adjustments on a weekly/monthly basis...I guess what I really meant was "reserve your self-judgment for longer time horizons" 😅
I'd love to know what questions you're using if you don't mind sharing. I think questions are super important to focus on the right area and I'm always on the lookout for good questions. 🙂
I would love to adopt a similar review system! Do you mind sharing more about the method or systems you have in place to facilitate the review?
I'll make a tiny pitch for my app complice.co here: it has week-scale & month-scale reviews, with customizable per-goal Qs. I've been meaning to add quarterly... wouldn't be that hard—tell you what, if you check out the app, I'll add it!🙃
Indeed, I really enjoyed how Complice emphasized intentions rather than tasks! Lots of thoughtful design notions there.
roughly: 1. What did I do this [period]? 2. How did I live this [period]? What did it feel like to be me? (socially, emotionally, intellectually, creatively) 3. Looking at what I intended to do and the way I intended to be, what's the diff? 4. What do I want to try?
really interesting. Worth keeping in mind so we can buffer any monthly disappointment
Yeah, or do quarterly instead 😛 twitter.com/andy_matuschak…
But I also do a quarterly review. I ask myself ~the same questions as in the monthly reflections, but over a longer time horizon. Looking back now, I see that in 3 of the 4 last quarters, I’d been thrilled (and surprised) by how much I’d achieved and how well things were going!
No monthly reviews 🤔 Edgy living. I like it
I do weekly/monthly reviews and see the same trend. I would say, in my case, shorter periods hurts retrospective abilities. Weeks are too short and the focus is in the now, and now varies a lot. Monthly gives me the opportunity to reflect deeper.
My explanation to myself (borrowing Taleb's idea of the Noise Bottleneck): Like the Market, if you check it every day you are going to see/feel the ups and downs, but if you check on it in larger time spans you'll see the trends...
What system do you use to log your activities so that you can review against your goals? I’ve done something similar where I kept a word doc of my accomplishments at work so I could reflect on them and later reference them during a performance review
Daily journal notes, which get summarized in weekly plan notes, likewise in monthly, quarterly, yearly.
Happen to have a spare 15min for a zoom chat to tell me more about this process and how it's helped you? Would be super valuable as part of my research for a product I'm working on. 🙂