I’m about to say something and you’re either going to nod your head in agreement or want to write me a nasty email telling me why I’m a dumbass and don’t know what I’m talking about.
Ok, here goes.
I’m sorry, but everything does not happen for a reason. This is just something we like to tell ourselves so that we feel more comfortable with uncomfortable situations.
The scary thing about “everything happens for a reason philosophy” is that it is all encompassing. It can explain every single thought, feeling, and emotion you have in response to it. This basically makes it impossible to disprove or show contrary evidence. – Mark Manson
In all areas of life, health, personal finances, love, relationships, death, and more – we should always be open to considering that some things occur because of chance, accidents, irrationality, or some combination of those things.
When we view how our weeks with a “everything happens for a reason” mentality it’s far too easy to let things happen to you instead of making things happen for you.
A simple technique I learned from Omar over at habitry.com to get out of this type of mindset was to ask myself two questions at the end of every week. But because I’m stubborn and difficult I added one more question because I felt the need to (sorry brother Omar)
THE SUPER SIMPLE 3 QUESTION WEEKLY REVIEW
So what is the method to this madness?
At the end of your week you only ask yourself 3 questions.
- What did I do well this week?
- What did I learn?
- What is one small thing I can do to improve?
Yup, that’s pretty much it. It’s a simple assessment to create awareness. Not to judge, or to be hard on yourself, it’s just acknowledgement.
Perfection is not the goal but making better choices is. All you’re trying to do is create momentum going into the week.
Because momentum is motivating. Making progress towards something meaningful to you can release dopamine in your brain which triggers the reward and pleasure centers.
If you’ve having a tough time with this exercise here are a couple of things you can try to help yourself out.
Focus On One Area of Your Life
Narrow the scope of your focus and instead of thinking about your life in broad terms think about just one aspect of it.
For example if improving your health and fitness is your number one priority right now ask yourself those 3 questions and relate your answers to that area of your life only. If improving your relationships is what you’re focusing on you can use the 3 questions for that too.
I’ve used the 3 question technique to do a weekly review on new skills I was trying to learn, nutrition, working out, improving relationships, bettering personal finances.
Think about what’s most important to you at this moment in your life,
Mix Up The Questions Every Once In a while
I was a little reluctant to write this but I’m going to do it anyway. After a while asking yourself these questions each week can get a little cumbersome. Every 6 to 8 weeks I like to mix it up.
In this article Benjamin Hardy gives you a few other questions to help you create more momentum and to get you thinking more actively.
- Who did I not meet this week that I should have?
- What did I not do?
- What did I miss?
- What should I tighten up?
Here are a few more you can try:
- what went well?
- what could be adjusted?
- what to stop doing?
- what to start doing?
- what to continue doing?
Keep the process as simple as possible and limit yourself to 3 questions. If you’re anything like me more than that and my head might explode from all the analytical analysis.
Take A Look At Your Logs
This mostly applies to the last question, “what is one small thing I can improve?” Logs are people, places, things, thoughts, behaviors, etc. That may have stood in your way this week.
When doing this it’s important to take responsibility and to be objective. A lot of the logs in our life are caused by our own poor decision-making.
Had to skip your workout on Thursday night because your significant other “made” you go to their work event? You probably should have scheduled a workout for the morning on that day then.
Use this as an opportunity to study and constructively criticize your decisions over the week. Yes, criticize yourself – it’s actually good for you.
“To cope with failure, we often turn to self-protective strategies. We rationalize what happened so that it places us in a more positive light, we blame other people, and we discount the importance of the event.
These strategies may make us feel better about ourselves in the short-term, but they are less likely to help us improve or avoid repeating our mistakes in the future. Research shows that people who have an overly inflated view of their performance on an academic task show decrements in subsequent motivation and performance, compared to people who view themselves more realistically.”
THE IMPORTANCE OF SELF AWARENESS AND WHY THESE 3 QUESTIONS
You can read every productivity tip out there , you can adapt the routines of geniuses , and you can eat up every piece of self-help that comes across the computer screen, but it’s completely pointless if you don’t know yourself well enough to put the correct advice into practice. – Thorin Klosowski
The two books that led me to creating L365 were Flinch by Julian Smith and The War of Art by Steve Pressfield. In the latter, Pressfield says that, “most of us have two lives: the life we live and the un-lived life within us. Between the two stands resistance.”
And in resistance we use avoidance, busyness, and funny cat GIFS to distract us from facing our reality.
Because reality is pretty fucking difficult sometimes and when things get difficult most of us shutdown.
Personal setbacks are one of the biggest obstacles you will face as you strive for momentum. It has been shown that setbacks are actually have a 2-3 times stronger effect on us than positive effects.
“…Setbacks have a negative effect on inner work life that’s 2-3 times stronger than the positive effect of progress. When we checked into whether other researchers had found something similar, we learned that it’s a general psychological effect; “bad is stronger than good.” The reason could be evolutionary. Maybe we pay more attention to negatives, and are more affected by them, out of self-preservation. So – because positive inner work life is so important for top performance, leaders should do whatever they can to root out negative forces…”
And this bad is stronger than good effect is even seen in our personal relationships.
“…The implication for all of us in long-term relationships is both instructive and daunting: If you have a bad interaction with your partner, following up with a positive one (or apparently two, three, or four) won’t be enough to dig out of that hole. Average five or more and you might stay in his or her good graces….” – HBR.org
It’s going to be impossible to avoid setbacks but striving for small wins each day instead of dramatic changes makes it much more likely for you to avoid some of the mistakes that could lead to this setback effect.
Essentially, the more you pay attention to your emotions and how you work, the better you’ll understand why you do the things you do. The more you know about your own habits, the easier it is to improve on those habits. In most cases, this takes a little experimentation.
These 3 questions are an opportunity to study and objectively criticize yourself. To learn more about what you do and why you do it each week.
CLOSING TIPS FOR DOMINATING THE 3 QUESTIONS
Put this review process in your calendar and take a hard stance. The key here is to take a HARD STANCE. That kinda sounds dirty doesn’t it?
I’m often amazed by how often people cancel appointments with themselves (myself included). They’ll schedule an 8am workout but cancel it because someone wants to have a meeting at that time.
Say no. Say you already have an appointment and offer 2 to 3 other options for the meeting. You don’t even need to explain why you’re saying no.
Look for patterns and links between emotional and physical tendencies. Any triggers that may cause certain things to happen in your week. When you get hit with a heavy workload to you tend to binge eat?
View this exercise as clean up time. A way to create more awareness and action as you try to improve your relationships, health, wealth, and other area you’re focusing on.
Question of the day: What area of your life are you trying to improve? Let me know by replying to this email. I read and respond to message that I get… provided the spam monsters don’t get it.
PS: Is improving your health and fitness a priority? I’m opening up Limitless Body Coaching to a select number of people in January. If you’re interested you can learn more here.
Photo Credit: Question Marks