As entrepreneurs, it's easy to get so caught up in urgent day-to-day business decisions and deliverables that suddenly the years seem to be whizzing past. It can be hard to find time to review and analyze outcomes, but such reflection is critical to success. Realizing this, Cédric Waldburger, an Entrepreneurs' Organization (EO) member from Switzerland, essentialist and serial entrepreneur, developed a system for self-reflection. We asked Cédric about his insights and process. Here's what he shared.
Last year I traveled on 120 flights, barely spending two consecutive nights in the same bed. And even though no two days were the same, it felt like time was flying by at an incredible speed. And life hasn't slowed down since. Jumping from one task to the next seems to make time shrink: Months and years blend together and disappear, leaving us wondering where all of our time went.
It's easy to get so wrapped up in running a business that we lose perspective about our ultimate goals and how we'll get there. If we lose direction, we may end up in a situation where we don't want to be. To avoid this, it's important to step back at regular intervals and make sure we're on the right track.
That's why I developed a simple exercise in self-reflection that helps align my goals and actions once every 90 days. This structured approach helps me live each day to the fullest and reminds me of the targets I'm working toward.
Why every 90 days? In our fast-paced world, it's difficult and potentially ill-advised to stick to one path for a full year without adjusting course. On the other hand, weekly or daily planning is rarely enough to spur lasting change. I've found that 90 days is the sweet spot that lets me "reset" effectively, providing a motivational boost four times each year instead of just once.
The 90-day Review
The following framework is the simplest I've found for staying on track with goals and regaining control over my time. The process can and should be modified to fit your individual needs. I'm most comfortable using a four-step process:
Step 1: Define areas of importance.
I always start by defining the main areas of importance in my life. Currently, the list consists of 12 categories broken down into four sections:
- Family, Relationships, Friends
- Experiences, Passions, Emotions
- Business, Money, Growth
- Nutrition, Fitness, Health
Your categories may be different, but I find that breaking down my life into its key components makes self-reflection much easier.
Step 2: Review the status quo for each area.
Next, I examine the current state of affairs for each area and write down my thoughts and observations. Answering purposeful questions can help you analyze each area. Here are some sample questions from my Business category:
- Which clients occupied most of my focus?
- Which clients do I need to spend more time with?
- Which projects positively surprised me?
- Which projects didn't achieve the desired outcome?
- Which areas have the strongest growth potential?
The questions will vary for each category, but the goal is to understand how you feel about the area and consciously review it. If you can't think of specific questions, a good universal one is:
- If I learned that I would die tomorrow, how would I feel about this area?
Reflecting on the key areas of your life provides a well-rounded overview of what you achieved in the last 90 days and reveals which areas need attention in the upcoming 90 days.
Step 3: Set intentions for the next 90 days.
Once you've clarified the status quo for each area, set your intentions for the next 90 days. Which areas do you want to change? Which do you want to stay the same? What are you avoiding? What's hindering your progress?
It's important to limit big changes to just one or two areas. Otherwise you risk becoming overwhelmed and not hitting your goals. The aim of this "preview" is to outline what you want the next 90 days to look like in each area.
Step 4: Schedule your next review.
With these three steps completed, your goals and intentions will become a lot more clear, as will the path toward achieving them. However, to make sure you stick to that path, it's important to repeat the process regularly. Schedule your next self-review now so it automatically pops up in your calendar. This ensures that even if you deviate from your intended path, it will be for a maximum of a few weeks. I block off time once every 90 days and schedule an email to myself for the same day to make sure I do the review.
Everyone wants to achieve success, but it's easy to lose sight of targets. By carving out time for self-reflection in the chaos of life, you'll be able to recognize accomplishments and failures. It's a humbling but necessary part of being a mindful leader. Once you've identified areas where you can be more effective, take action to improve performance and achieve your goals!