Reflect. Review. Redesign. (#115)

2021 is nearing its end. What a year it’s been! The end of the year is the best excuse to Reflect. Review. And Redesign. That’s what we’re going to talk about here.

Did you wake up yesterday and consciously look at your calendar and say, “Wait, what? It’s December, already?!”
– If it occurred to you that way or not, I don’t really know. But I hear a lot of people (at least with whom I converse with) who tell me, “The year has gone by so quick!”, or “It’s December, already?!”
When I get that from people, what I wish to reply is: “I don’t think the year has gone by any faster than time in one year does.”, or “Yeah, it’s December, already. It was never really inevitable, you know?”

But that would probably not be appropriately kind when a person is grieving over lost time, I think. So, I best remain quiet (that doesn’t stop me from writing an article on it though).

So, why is it that I’m so against the idea of time flying by? Firstly, it’s because (I like to believe), I don’t let time fly away, I catch it before it goes too far. And anyone who lets time fly away, they are not living in the present moment. For the person who is stuck in the past or future is never here, was never here, and will never be here. And that’s one of the few reasons they think time passes so quick.

Secondly, when people talk about the year going by in a jiffy, I first think logically (that time never moves faster than its normal speed), second I feel sorry for the person who is lamenting over time lost and furthermore so when that person makes it seem it wasn’t under their control (although it always is!).
I feel sorry, but my thoughts still don’t match with my feelings as you now know (since what I really want to reply is rather rude, not sympathetic).

I think this year was pretty phenomenal for me at least. It didn’t feel too long, definitely not too short, it was normal. Like how time normally passes. I did a lot of new stuff. Learned a lot. Created this blog. Started other learning and professional projects. It was fun to be alive in 2021! And it doesn’t feel just yesterday being New Year’s Eve 2019.

I certainly believe even you must have done a lot of different things this year. If not that, you probably did a lot of same stuff in different ways. That works too! The important thing I sincerely wish for you is to kill the depressing notion of feeling it was just 2020 yesterday, with listing all the stuff you did in 2021. Trust me, if you do a little searching and recalling, you’ll be surprised with how amazing this year was, and how it wasn’t a “short year”. Also (and much more importantly) you may get wiser, and more conscious of your acts: knowing the mistakes you made, and the changes and improvements necessary to make for next year, starting now.

There’s a simple system for this kind of journaling. You already know it from the title. It’s the 3 Rs. Reflect. Review. And Redesign. And after this long introduction, let’s get into it!

  1. Reflect.

    This is probably the most important step. Reflecting on the year. Not judging (yet). Simply reflecting. If you are a consistent note taker or keep a daily journal, this step will be easy for you. When you think about it, a year is a pretty small time, anyway. 52 weeks. You can break down the year into weeks. And recall the things you did / happened to you every week of the year. Or, if that’s a little too hard (trust me, it is), you can reflect fortnight to fortnight week. Or at the very least, contemplate every month of the year. Remember: this is the no judging period. This is only listing actions. For the first step, list everything you did throughout the year. Don’t write just the bad things or the good ones. Take everything equally. And merely think back at the stuff you did in the year. Make sure to include everything. As far as memory can stretch or record can tell.

    This whole exercise is a noting exercise. So, keep your writing material or Word doc open. If you’re taking weeks, write down Week 1, Week 2, Week 3 and so on till 52. If you’re taking fortnights, Fortnight 1, Fortnight 2, Fortnight 3 … Fortnight 26
    Months? January … December.
    And now, make note of what you did every week, fortnight week, or month till date.
    This act is becoming conscious of your actions. Not noting how they were just yet, but what they were every time of the year.
  2. Review.

    Now, you shall judge. This step allows you to review every thing you listed in the first step. Now, we won’t be biased at including only our good or bad acts, performances, experiences or decisions of the year. Since we kept track of every one of them (good or bad) in step 1, without judging them. Now, review. What went well? What didn’t? How could have I made it go well?

    Ask simple questions like those listed above. Think. Don’t feel. Let go of clinging biases. Think about the consequences of your actions (which may have happened already or are soon to come). Think about why you did what you did? Was there any other way? Why didn’t you consider that way? Okay, you faired well in this decision, what was your thinking behind it? How can you make these kinds of decisions more often?

    Ask, “What went bad?”, “Why did it go bad?”, “How could it not have gone bad?”, “What have I learned from it going bad?”. Similarly, “What went good?”, “Why did it go good?”, “How could it not have gone good?”, “What have I learned from it going good?”

    Note faults, note successes, note lessons learned which are needed to be implemented. You’ll learn a lot. Trust me.

    This is reviewing. Just review your year. As simple as it gets.
  3. Redesign.

    “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” — Benjamin Franklin

    This is the last step. Now, you know what things went good or bad, why did it happen so, how could it not have happened so, and the lessons you learned from both kinds of experiences.

Great work till now!

Now, the action step. A lot of insight must have arrived from following the prior steps. You know what works and what doesn’t and how to make it work. So, now you list down changes, as many changes as you can think about, but only the ones you need to make. They can be anything! Listening more, thinking out of the box, perspective-thinking, applying gratitude. Literally anything. So, you list the “Changes I Need to Make“. Next you list your good points you ought to keep. A lot of good possibly happened in 2021. You know your strengths, results or people (giving feedback) can tell you that. Outcomes listed in step 2 have told you what’s incredible about you. Amazing! Now list as many as you humbly can find, “Things I Need to Keep the Same Way“.

This ends your “planning”.
As American military officer Dwight D. Eisenhower said, “In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.”

I believe this journaling system is better than creating “New Year’s Resolutions”. But of course, it only works if you abide by it. At the very least, we ought to create this reflection system and use it to succeed at our new year’s resolutions. Always looking to a bright future with “new” goals won’t do. Study your past. And try becoming better than it was.

And please, please, catch time before it flies away in 2022, else you’ll fall back to the “Wait, it’s December, already?!” mentality again in the new year.

I hope you found this helpful, you’ve read this far, it signifies great interest. To make things (much) easier, I’ve designed a template for all the steps you learned in this article. Here is a direct link to it.

Thank you. And happy new year.

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