Am I on the right track?
Whether I have strayed away from the path I set for myself at the start.
Because by catching yourself derailing from the plan early on, you can adjust and get back on track.
The Monthly Review
As I mentioned in the last section, the month is a very tricky period. It’s tricky because it seems long enough for you to not worry about it too much, but it’s also short enough that it passes in the blink of an eye. So, when it comes to the month, you need to be super attentive to your tendency to push things forward.
In the monthly planner section, I suggested the idea of piling hard and painful things in first, as well as the most critical tasks, regardless of their difficulty. Even if you believe something is straightforward and easy, but it’s of high importance, you must tackle it first.
In the following section, you will learn how to plan your week, and following that, your days. Because weeks make up months and days build up to weeks, those periods will have their own reviews baked in so you can catch yourself as you stray away from the path.
So, then, what is the monthly review for? It’s not only an opportunity to observe any potential problems with your annual plan, but it’s also an opportunity to review the progress you’ve made on your goals.
The thing we must all remember is that when we plan, we tend to underestimate the efforts and resources needed to complete a task, especially if the task is new and in unfamiliar territory. As you got excited by your vision and set your annual goals, as the months pass by you might realize that your initial assessment was overly optimistic.
That’s okay. It happens quite often, especially when you do this for the first time. The quarterly review allows you to capture significant deviations from your plan. The monthly review is another chance to catch things before they escalate.
If you had a plan to run a marathon in March but did no run training in January as you had planned, then perhaps your idea of running a marathon in March was not realistic. (Remember the characteristics of goals!)
So, doing a quick and honest monthly check is a great opportunity to adjust your understanding of your life, and how everything around you affects your ability to stick to your plans. That will allow you to develop your self-awareness and become better at making judgments. But keep in mind that your monthly review should not become an exercise of choosing what to postpone. Moving your targets forward should be the last resort. Instead, use the monthly review to train your judgment and decision-making abilities.
How To Do Your Monthly Review
The Monthly Review is a look-back analysis and reflection to identify patterns of behavior. Because your month packs about four weeks, there will be recurring elements to it, and there will also be multiple one-off items. It’s up to your monthly review to reveal those patterns of priority and action.
Remember, you are now looking at your ideal plan—the one the month started with—and your actual results, meaning what you actually did. No matter how good your plans are, reality will get in the way. It’s up to you to observe the places where you were overly confident, places where you over or under-estimated the amount of time or effort it took, or any other misalignments between what you planned and what you acted upon.
To proceed, first pull out your weekly reviews for the month. They represent a starting point for your monthly checkpoint. You will reflect them against the original monthly plan and ask yourself a few questions to reveal those patterns.
At the end of it, you might wind up with the conclusion that everything went approximately fine. Even if you come to that conclusion, still look for broken patterns. Especially look for places where your awareness and judgment failed you, not places where unexpected situations occurred. That’s because no amount of self-reflection and analysis will prevent unforeseen events or unexpected behaviors from the people around you.
Your goal here is not to stop the Universe from getting in the way of your plans; your goal is to identify your blind spots and make small rudder changes to adjust your judgment. In time, that increased awareness will allow you to deal more effectively and efficiently with situations that occur when life throws a wrench in your wheel—which it will. It happens all the time.
Your Monthly Review
So what are the things you’ll be looking for during your monthly review?
- What are the biggest wins of the month?
- What are the biggest failures of the month?
- How did you take care of yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally?
- What are the top things you are grateful for during this month?
In addition to these questions, and with some additional self-reflection, you will also refer back to your annual goal tracking sheets and mark any progress there. By looking at where you are standing versus the goals’ progress, you’ll know if you are ahead or behind.
For instance, for a goal that has a monthly component to it, such as writing a book in twelve months for example, if you are at 50% of the time (aka on August 1st) and your book is only 30% complete, then you are behind on your goal. What can you do to adjust?
Resist pushing the deadline forward right away. That should be your last resort. First, try to understand why you are behind. If the outcome is not right, you need to look at the process.
For example, if you want to write 90,000 words in a year and you only write 5000 words per month, you won’t make it.
If the process is correct, but the outcome is still not there, you need to take a look at your self-awareness. What are you missing? Do you keep pushing your tasks forward? Do you keep getting hijacked by others? What else is distracting you from progressing on your goal?
After you do this analysis, try to think of creative solutions to overcome these problems. Do this before you decide to change “Write a book in one year” to “Write a book in two years.” Always resist pushing deadlines forward. There usually is an alternative solution. Your monthly review gives you that precise chance.
The Monthly Review Process
Once you have finished your first month of massive action, it’s time to download your first Monthly Review sheet. As before, feel free to pre-print several sheets and keep them handy in a folder together with your Monthly Plan. Your next stop is the Weekly Plan, so head on there.
Feedback, Comments, Suggestions, Testimonials
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