Every December/January, I review what happened the previous year. This review covers learnings, events, journal entries, goal successes and failures, etc. In 2016, there were three learnings that stood out for me. I remind myself of these learnings in my morning and evening routines each day with the hope that I can be more mindful about not repeating too many mistakes from the past. I will share these three learnings here (as well as a fourth I’ve since appended onto the list).
Stay calm. Excitement can do as much harm as anger.
Many people are aware that making decisions or acting when angry can lead to unfavourable results. Looking back at the year, I realized that unfavourable results have also often followed decisions or actions made when I was particularly excited.
This is not a suggestion to suppress my emotions. Rather, this is a reminder to myself that although emotions happen, I should wait for them to pass before I act or make any decisions. This way, I can stop and make a rational decision about how to move forward rather than puppet to my emotions, and avoid taking a path I may in the future regret.
Focus. Too many priorities means you aren’t prioritizing anything.
I usually have many goals going on throughout the year. I don’t think that is a problem in itself. However, when I try to work towards too many goals at the same time, it takes longer than it would have had I focused on achieving one at a time. Some of my goals are more important than others, and by focusing on too many at once, it means I may be progressing on less important goals at the expense of not progressing as quickly on more important goals. As much as I want to feel like I’m always working towards all of my goals, sometimes it makes more sense just to focus on one thing at a time.
Review. Otherwise you can quickly fall off track.
I’ve developed a habit of reviewing my life. A lot. At different levels, I do daily, weekly, quarterly, and annual reviews. Something I noticed last year is sometimes I would choose to not do my reviews in order to dedicate more time to other goals. Whenever I did this, I noticed that I started dropping the ball on a lot of things. This is a reminder that, perhaps especially when I’m under pressure, making time to review helps me to keep everything in check. My weekly review is an invaluable practice to keeping my eye on everything that is happening.
Set the bar. No sarcasm, complaining, or blaming from yourself or from others.
This one I added after some reflection on my own habits, and reading about related topics. Sarcasm, complaining, and blaming are not proactive ways of solving problems. They are simply reactive attempts to comfort myself in uncomfortable situations. This is a reminder to not let myself fall into past habits, and instead take a more proactive route when facing problems. Because we are so influenced by the people around us, it is also a reminder to myself to not surround myself by people who also regularly act reactively when facing challenges.
I remind myself of these things daily because these things are all a work in progress. Some days I may excel at some of these but not others. Other days, I may completely fail at all four. But by keeping them front of mind, I try to remember these options whenever I face the opportunity to exercise them in my day-to-day living.