Documenting my life

Tag: goals (Page 2 of 2)

How to do a weekly review

One of the tools that helps me the most is a personal weekly review. My friends who also have this habit have also found it beneficial, so I will share what I do and my approach ad mindset around it, which is why it works so well for me.

What is a weekly review?

It is a review done on a weekly basis, where you review your goals, habits, plans for the week that has just ended and set up the following week.

Why is it beneficial?

I think one of the issues with sticking to a goal (or keeping new year’s resolutions) is that we forget about them (and the weekly review helps us keep track).

The other problem is that, if we don’t keep up, we often give up, rather than going deeper and trying to understand why and how we can tweak things to help ourselves. Sometimes small changes are what really makes a difference, and sometimes you have to try different things before you find the right one for you.

How to do a weekly review?

Any way that works for you! I strongly suggest writing it down, so you can reference it back easily. I personally prefer pen and paper – I had switched to a digital note some time back and found it less interesting. However, I think digital notes can work well in the case of habits or routine to-dos, especially if you are using a tool like Notion that allows you to tick things off.

It’s useful to do this every week, I usually on a Sunday afternoon. It generally takes me about 20/30 minutes, but it can also be done in 10 or 15 if you’re in a hurry. It’s definitely better to do a quick review than no review at all – you can always add more details after.

Set up your first planning session

This section is for you if you haven’t done a weekly review recently – or ever!

  • Think of which sections you want to include. This will vary according to your goals or different areas you want to keep track of. For example, sections could be work, finances, social life/relationships, health/fitness, self-care and so on. I personally do not add a specific section for habits, because I put them in their respective categories
  • In the first week, you won’t have anything specific to review from the previous session, but you can think back to how the week went for each category. Think of what you accomplished. Maybe you went to the gym, or you dedicated more time to cook a healthy meal, instead of ordering take-out. Write down anything that comes to mind. Its’ always good to start the weekly review by taking stock of the positives in the week. It doesn’t have to be a task or an activity to tick off a to-do list, of course. You can be proud of setting boundaries with your family or to have gone to bed at 11 pm instead of doom-scrolling Twitter
  • Plan the following week. For each category, what would you like to achieve next week? What habits would you keep up with? Is there a new habit you want to create? As a starting point, it can be helpful to think back to the things you observed in the point above: and identify:
    • things you want to keep doing or do more of
    • what that got in the way
    • what you should do less of

Find the right balance

It’s important to keep these goals realistic and doable. Planning on running a half marathon next week if you never ran 5K will only lead to disappointment and frustration. Skip the wishful thinking and write down challenging things you think can actually do. The keyword is challenging since it generally motivates us to focus on a task and tackle it head-on. On the other hand, ensuring it’s within our reach is key: if a task feels daunting we will likely procrastinate. Make sure to be as specific as you can, since sometimes we doon’t lack motivation, but clarity.

What about future weekly reviews?

Once you have done your first planning session (described above) the following ones will be easier and have more structure.

Split it into two steps: a review of last week and planning for the upcoming week. I go section by section: for example, I will think about the past week at work and plan the work week ahead, and then move to the next section, health & fitness.

Step 1 – Review of last week

Celebrate the successes

  • You already have an idea of what you had planned to do, based on the previous session – that is a great place to start. Go back to your notes from last week and see what you managed to accomplish!
  • Always think of other things (big or small) you are proud of, even if they weren’t in the books. You’ll be surprised at how many remarkable moments there were 🙂
  • If you completed a challenging task, it’s useful to break down how you did it, what steps you took. It could be helpful to look back on in Step 2 of the review or if you find yourself struggling on something similar further down the line.

Get curious

After celebrating the positives, we go into the next part, which is what drives the most benefit for me: looking at what you wanted to get done but didn’t.

The key here is to not be judgemental and critique ourselves for not meeting our plans. The important part is to get genuinely curious and think about why you did not accomplish something.

Ask yourself:

  • is this something I still care about?
  • If yes, why did I not do this?
  • Is it harder than I thought?
  • What exactly went wrong?
  • Do I want to give it another shot?
  • How can I make it easier for myself this time?

It can be useful to think of what advice you would give a friend if they were in this situation.

Example Let’s say you want to maintain your home clean. Maybe you try cleaning up one room every day after work, or doing 10-minute sprints on your work break if you are working from home, or challenging yourself to clean the kitchen in 15 minutes. Another “trick” could be to listen to an audiobook or a podcast while cleaning, or put on some music to have fun improvising a sing-along.

The main idea is to accept that something that “seems right” or works for someone else might not actually work for you – you need to keep asking yourself why and how you can make it easier.

If you see this part of the review as negative and shameful, you will likely not keep doing this exercise. So it’s really important to see it as a challenge, where you figure out what didn’t work and how to try again.

Step 2 – Plan the week ahead

At this point, you should have a solid idea of what you want to work on in the upcoming week. Defining the specific goals for the week is the second step. Based on what I want to improve upon, I will come up with realistic and achievable, but also challenging goals.

Make it simple

Specify any intermediate steps or break down how you plan on doing something in as much detail as I can. Sometimes we find ourselves not making progress simply because we are not sure of what the next step actually is. This will make it seems quite daunting and lead us to be overwhelmed instead of making progress.

Find balance

Do not put too much on your calendar, but having a challenge is motivating. lt turns this into a game and makes it more fun, given that these tasks and projects are linked to goals you care about.

Track habits

I usually add any habits I want to work on (if any) within each section and immediately create a tracker for my desk. I don’t use any app or fancy habit tracker: a piece of paper with boxes to check off is enough. Despite its simplicity, I find that having a visual reminder of the thing I want to do is quite useful. And tracking each time I keep up with the habit is motivating.

I hope you will start doing this if you aren’t already! If you do reviews regularly, what do you do differently?

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Is lack of motivation your problem?

“Many people think they lack motivation when what they really lack is clarity. It is not always obvious when and where to take action.”

James Clear

In this quote, “action” refers to a well-defined habit or task.

More broadly, I would say that we also procrastinate because we don’t know exactly what we are supposed to do or why we want to do something.

It seems obvious and it is surely nothing new, but I still fell into this trap multiple times. To be honest, I still need to remind myself of this. I had the idea for this post exactly because I was procrastinating – then I realized I didn’t know what specifically I was even supposed to do. No wonder I didn’t want to get into something unclear, it is too uncomfortable!

Questions to get started

If you feel stuck and unmotivated and find yourself postponing something you need to do, ask yourself these questions:

  • What task am I supposed to do? Make it as specific as possible. If you aren’t sure, brain dump any task which can be related/helpful as well. Then figure out which one will help you the most if you do that first.
  • Why is this task important to me? Figure out if you really want or need to do it, by refecting on how you will feel once the task is done and what would happen if you continued procrastinating. Talking to someone you trust can help in this area!
  • What do I need to get started? Do I have all the necessary things ? For example, this might mean notes and slides if the task is work or study related. It will bed documents and receits if you need to file your tax returns.
  • What specifically will I do in the first 5 minutes? What will I work on in the first 25 minutes?
  • How long will this take? If it’s more than an hour, break it down into smaller tasks. If you are not familiar with the Pomodoro technique, you should look into it, it will significantly help with procrastination (I used it consistently during my Master’s and go back to it even now when I need to)
  • How will I measure success? Try to have something measurable and within your control.

Motivation versus clarity in habit-building

Being specific and knowing exactly when and how you are going to do something is especially important if you are trying to form a new habit. James Clear suggests having a set time and place in mind. This means there is no question as to if this is the right moment or not. If you know “Every morning at 8 am I will read 5 pages”, you won’t make any decisions, but simply follow through on your plans.

A month ago I started getting back into running. It’s extremely helpful to know when I am supposed to put on my running shoes and to have a clear plan. I am not giving myself the option of “doing it tomorrow” because I am following a schedule. And I don’t have to bargain with myself on how much I will run, as it has already been decided for me by experts who I trust.


Next time you catch yourself procrastinating and putting something off, remember to get clear on what exactly you have to do, check if you know when and how you will start, and make sure you have everything you need ready – or make that your first task.

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Word of the year – ideas for 2022 goals and resolutions

A few years ago I was listening to the podcast Happier and I discovered the concept of “Word of the year” and I have been doing it ever since. Having a word of the year has been really helpful in setting my goals and resolutions. It also helps me make decisions throughout the year.
It’s something I look forward to as the new year approaches, definitely one of my favorite traditions!

What is a Word of the Year?

You choose one word that will be the “North Star” for the upcoming year. It can guide your New Year’s resolutions and help you put more thought into what you want to focus on throughout the year.

The word of the year is also known as One Word or One Little Word.

How do you choose your 2022 word?

Maybe you already have one word you immediately thought of as soon as you read the introduction.

And if not? It’s the most common reaction, so don’t worry! Here are the steps I follow:

  • Start by looking back at the year that is ending and examine what was missing or what you want more of
  • Think of what you would like to focus on in the upcoming year, how would you want your days to be like? Relaxed and slow, buzzing of activities and/or friends, focused on a big project?
  • If you are stuck, simply scan through the list of 100 word ideas below and select the 10 or 20 words that are related to the questions above. Then remove synonyms and continue to reduce the list based on what resonates the most until you find the final one

How to use your word for goals and resolutions

  • Think of all the possible meanings and interpretations. For example, “Light” can refer to daylight and sunshine and will prompt you to get outside more; it can be connected to feeling “light” and it might lead you to delete Twitter and pick up a new hobby instead of doom-scrolling; or you might want to “find the light” on gloomy days and start a gratitude list or a journal. Come up with as many interpretations as you can, see what comes up and which ones you want to set as resolution/intentions for the new year
  • Write down the meanings and interpretations that you want to work on and include in the next year and journal about it, remembering to include practical activities
  • Remember your word, think about it often. A simple way to not forget it in two months is to find an image that is related and use that as your phone’s background picture. I’ve heard some people buy a t-shirt with their word printed on it for example. You can even get a custom charm for this specific purpose!
  • Think about it when making decisions Choosing a word for the year can be useful also when you have to make a decision. It might sound a bit extreme, but thinking of your word can offer a different perspective or remind you of what you set out looking for.

    For instance, you can ask yourself “Which one of the options would bring more __________?”

    Following the example of “Light”, I would probably say yes to a picnic in the park even if I am tired, or it could be a gentle nudge towards speaking up immediately rather than keeping a grudge or overthinking what a friend said.

Help – I can’t pick a single word/I want to change my word of the year

The idea is for this to be a helpful reminder of the main theme you would like to focus on for the upcoming months, but nothing is set in stone!

You can (of course) adapt it or adopt a new word altogether whenever.

Some folks prefer to have multiple words, maybe one per quarter or one per month, to focus on a new area each season!

105 Word of the Year ideas

  1. Abundance
  2. Accept
  3. Action
  4. Adapt
  5. Adventure
  6. Authenticity
  7. Awareness
  8. Balance
  9. Be
  10. Become
  11. Begin
  12. Blossom
  13. Bold
  14. Brave
  15. Build
  16. Calm
  17. Care
  18. Challenge
  19. Change
  20. Commit
  21. Connect
  22. Creativity
  23. Courage
  24. Daring
  25. Decision
  26. Discipline
  27. Dream
  28. Driven
  29. Energy
  30. Enhance
  31. Evolve
  32. Explore
  33. Family
  34. Flow
  35. Focus
  36. Follow
  37. Freedom
  38. Fun
  39. Generous
  40. Gift
  41. Give
  42. Go
  43. Gratitude
  44. Growth
  45. Habit
  46. Happiness
  47. Health
  48. Help
  49. Ideas
  50. Immagine
  51. Improve
  52. Innovate
  53. Intuitiion
  1. Joy
  2. Kindness
  3. Laughter
  4. Learn
  5. Light
  6. Listen
  7. Love
  8. Meaning
  9. Mindfulness
  10. Mission
  11. Movement
  12. Nature
  13. Nourish
  14. Nurture
  15. Opportunity
  16. Organize
  17. Patience
  18. Persistence
  19. Play
  20. Point
  21. Positive
  22. Practice
  23. Present
  24. Progress
  25. Question
  26. Radiate
  27. Reach
  28. Relationships
  29. Relax
  30. Reset
  31. Resilience
  32. Rest
  33. Share
  34. Silence
  35. Simplify
  36. Smile
  37. Start
  38. Stillness
  39. Strength
  40. Support
  41. Teach
  42. Tell
  43. Think
  44. Trust
  45. Try
  46. Unique
  47. Understand
  48. Useful
  49. Vibrant
  50. Why
  51. Work
  52. Yes

I’d love to know your word for the year, please share it in the comments below!

If you liked this article, share it with a friend who might find this interesting!

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Why am I starting this blog?

Since this is my first post, I want to share my goals and what I hope I will achieve, learn and discover through this project. I’ll keep it short, so here goes:

  • document my life, to have a catalog for my future self to look back on, keep track of my thoughts, books I’ve read etc
  • share my thoughts and learnings, as it might be helpful for someone else or it might prompt a discussion or a suggestion of something I might like. The topics I will write about are broadly related to trying new things, exploring and improving my life. In the About section you can find out more about me
  • connect with like minded people, who are interested in a mix of things I like
  • become comfortable with being uncomfortable: sharing things publicly and putting myself out there does sound like a challenge
  • learn how to do things better, be it by being self-critical or because someone points something I could have done better or differently
  • have a different/new topic to chat about with my friends and family; not only about the content, but about the project itself
  • challenge myself to find something to write about, to try and observe things through this lens
  • be consistent, by posting regularly (although there will probably be exceptions)

As you can see, a big part of this project is related to connecting with others, so please leave a comment sharing what you are interested in and if there are any blogs/podcasts you think I should look into.


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