“The unexamined life is not worth living.”
When it comes to creating sustainable change in your life, your attitude to setbacks makes all the difference.
Most people tend to view setbacks as failures that are evidence of their own incompetence and, as a result, they get discouraged and quit.
Successful changers, on the other hand, view their setbacks as valuable data they can use to tweak their approach until it works for them.
You can have all the best behavior change strategies in the world in your playbook, but they won’t work until you put them into practice, get real-world feedback, and tweak them to fit your own unique psychology.
This is why I’d like to make the case that a weekly review is absolutely crucial to your success.
What is a Weekly Planning Session?
A weekly planning session is a recurring block of time in your weekly schedule that you use for review the past week and prepare yourself for the upcoming week. I recommend blocking off 1-2 hours for this, but if you can only manage 30 minutes, that’s still a lot better than no session at all.
The time you’ll put into your weekly planning is session is usually won back many times over because it will help you stay organized and proactive in everything that you do.
You’ll become much more efficient and avoid having stuff slipping through the cracks. On top of that, it will provide you with a natural time to pause and reflect on the changes you’re working on in your life so you can continually tweak your approach.
This is one of the most powerful habits I’ve adopted in recent years and I’m sure it will be for you too if you give it a try. To give you some inspiration for creating your own weekly planning routine, I’ll share what mine looks like below.
My 10-Step Weekly Planning Session
1: Celebrate wins from the last week. An important part of solidifying and reinforcing new habits is to celebrate your progress in them. That’s why I like to begin my planning sessions by looking back and listing out my wins. Big or small doesn’t matter, the important thing is we take the time to acknowledge, and pat ourselves on the back for, a job well done. Write down at least 5 wins you’re proud of, but feel free to write down as many more that come to mind.
2: Stats & self-monitoring. Your goals need to be very specific and measurable to get done. This step is dedicated to reviewing all the numbers from last week to make sure you’re on track toward your goals. For me, these numbers include:
- Meditation sessions (my goal is 7).
- Completed 7-minute workout sessions (my goal is 10).
- Words written (my goal is 2,000).
Coach.me provides a simple way to store these numbers for easy reference during my weekly planning session.
3: Analyze what didn’t happen. This is where I look back at the most important outcomes I outlined for the past week to see what didn’t get done and what could’ve been done better. I then look at what specifically went wrong and how I can adjust my approach in the upcoming week. As I’ve mentioned above, this step is absolutely crucial for creating new habits.
4: List the most important outcomes for next week. Once I’ve done a proper reflection on the past week, it’s time to look forward to the week ahead. In this step, I outline a maximum of 5 core tasks that I want to accomplish in the next 7 days in order to move me closer to my yearly goals. This is a very powerful step for creating clarity so I can avoid getting derailed and consistently take action on what’s most important.
5: Writing. The purpose of my work is to provide my readers with tons of value while at the same time making me a better writer. For that to happen, I need to be writing consistently. In this step, I’ll commit to exactly what articles and book chapters I’ll be writing in the upcoming week so I can avoid getting stuck thinking about what to write and instead start hammering away on the keyboard first thing Monday morning.
6. Schedule To-Do’s & Commitments. This is an important step for avoiding stuff from slipping through the cracks. Here’s where I get out my calendar and schedule in my most important outcomes from step #4 as well as other smaller tasks, errands and commitments that I want to get done.
7: Deadlines and important upcoming dates. This step is a lifesaver if you, like me, have a tendency to forget important dates and deadlines. Since I started systematically review and add due dates and important social occasions into my calendar, I very rarely forget to pay a bill, return books to the library, send birthday greetings to friends and family and so on.
8: Reach out to a new connection. This is my latest addition to my weekly review and so far I’m loving it. After reading Just Listen: Discover the Secret to Getting Through to Absolutely Anyone by Mark Goulston, I learned that few people actually reach out to authors after reading their books so I’ve decided to start writing a quick thank you email to one of my favorite authors every week. This is a pretty cool habit not only because it feels good to be one of the rare people to reach out and give credit where it’s due, but also because you very often hear back and at times even make genuine connections with people who are experts in their field. I highly recommend trying this out!
9: Schedule fun and recreation. Making progress on your goals is important, but so is taking the time to hang out with your friends. I’ve found that when I’m working hard and taking a lot of action on my personal goals, it’s easy to forget about this. That’s why I’ve added this (admittedly a bit control-freaky) step to ensure I remember to take some time off to just have some fun.
10: Send #1 – #5 to my accountability partner. As of January 1st this year, I’ve teamed up with fellow coach Niklas Göke to hold each other accountable in pursuing our goals. In this final step, I copy step 1 through 5 and email them to Nik so he can track my progress, cheer me on, and help me course correct where needed.
Please note that these steps are not set in stone. In fact, they have changed many times over the years and will continue to do so as my priorities change. So, feel free to steal what makes sense to you and cut out or change the rest to fit your needs. Your process can be 3 or 20 steps. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is you find a process that helps you move closer to your goals.
As much as you can, make your weekly planning session something you look forward to. Make it a ritual involving some nice tea or coffee and your favorite music. This is not another ‘must’ but rather a time you take for yourself to ensure you go after your biggest goals and aspirations as effectively as possible.
I hope this is helpful to you. If you have any questions at all about how to conduct your own weekly planning session, shoot me a message and I’ll help you out!
Do you want to master your habits? Get my book The Habit Blueprint.