One of my favorite goal-setting and achieving tools is a weekly review. It will help you “sharpen the saw” as The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People Teaches. But what is it, and how can you do it?
A weekly review is a time that you set aside to analyze your past week’s efforts and accomplishments and your plan for the week ahead. It increases the chances you’ll achieve your goals by letting you report to yourself on your progress. You do this by checking how your lead and lag indicators and larger vision are going.
I look forward to my weekly review each Sunday and hope that after this, you will be excited about having your own! Let’s dive right in, starting with some word math!
This one is simple yet powerful. Let’s start with our definitions courtesy of Google as always:
Weekly: once a week.
Review: a formal assessment or examination of something with the possibility or intention of instituting change if necessary.
A formal assessment or examination of something with the possibility or intention of instituting change if necessary once a week.
And to simplify and make it as clear as possible:
A once a week assessment or examination of your goals with the possibility or intention of instituting change if necessary.
Notice that I removed the word “formal” from the definition of review in my final version. I’ve found that, although a weekly review does require some formality, it’s fun if you do it right!
How to Have a Weekly Review
The steps of a Weekly Review are simple:
- Review your lead and lag indicators for the previous week.
- Plan your lead and lag indicators for the next week.
Doing these is easier when you have a good tracking system to plan and record your lead and lag indicators.
Lead indicators are the efforts you put toward accomplishing your goals, like exercising. Lag indicators are the results that come after you perform your lead indicators, like pounds lost.
To review your progress with each of these, you need a list of questions to ask yourself. My tracking spreadsheet has a tab for this.
The 19 questions I ask myself during my weekly review are unique to my system. You’ll want to adjust my suggestions to meet your needs. Here are some ideas for questions you might want yours to include:
- What were some of last week’s wins?
- What lessons did I learn?
- Which areas* and days did I overperform? Do I need to set higher standards?
- Which areas* and days did I underperform? Do I need to lower my sights?
- Did I complete my lag indicators? Ask yourself this for each lag indicator you have.
- Do I need to change any of my lead or lag indicators?
- What deadlines, meetings, and responsibilities do I have next week? How and when will I prepare for and accomplish them?
- What top 3 goals am I most committed to this week?
*By “areas” I mean the five pillars of faith, family, finances, fitness, and fun.
Notice that the first half or so of the questions focus on how I did last week, while the second deal mostly with preparation for the week ahead. It’s essential to encompass both aspects for maximum self-awareness and success.
The Importance of Tracking Overperforming and Underperforming
Asking yourself about overperforming is vital because if you are, it means that you could be leaving time and money on the table. If you’re consistently hitting over 100% on some goals, you know you can challenge yourself further.
In contrast, the underperforming question is important to see where to cut your goals down a little. If you’re struggling to meet 50% of one of your lead indicators, it might be time to cut it in half.
Another way to look at this is that if you’re overperforming, you’ll get bored from the lack of challenge and want to give up.
Whenever you’re consistently underperforming, you’ll always feel terrible, which will also lead to failure.
The sweet spot is a balance between the two. The ability to account for a goal that is too high or too low is part of what makes my system so robust. Again, if you want a copy of it, you can get one at the end of this post.
Now that you know how to have your own weekly review let’s dive into some of the benefits of it!
Benefit 1: It Gives You Data to See How You Did and Refine Your Goals.
I can’t say enough how useful the information I get from my weekly review is. I know exactly what signs to look for that will tell me if I need to continue, modify, or stop any of my goals.
The consequence of this is that I’m never worried about whether or not a goal is the right one for me. I’m confident that I can gather the data needed to determine if I need to change a goal. This shatters any fears or apprehension I have about commitment.
Then when it comes time to make my goals at the end of each quarter and at the end of the year, I don’t have to spend nearly as much time laboring over what to focus on. I just begin, get the data, and move on.
Sometimes it’s helpful to look at your goal-setting journey like a scientist views their work. When running experiments, a scientist doesn’t feel bad if their hypothesis is wrong. They just gather data and go on to the next one.
You can have the same approach to your goals, but not without a weekly review to help you compile and analyze your data.
Benefit 2: A Weekly Review Can Help You Crush Anxiety and Depression.
There’s a quote often attributed to Lao Tzu, that goes something like this:
“Depression is living in the past.
Anxiety is living in the future.
Peace is living in the present.”
While I agree with this principle, it’s missing something.
The past teaches us vital lessons that we need to use to improve, so long as we don’t look back far enough.
Your efforts over the past week, quarter, or even year, in some cases, can tell you how likely it is you’ll succeed at individual goals. Looking back to your childhood, however, isn’t useful because it doesn’t indicate what you can accomplish today.
The future, on the other hand, is something that we can prepare for if we want to take the anxiety out of it. Another word for anxiety is fear. If preparation kills fear, it does the same to anxiety as well.
By looking at what you’ve done in the past week as if you were a scientist and preparing for the week ahead, you will realize how necessary the actions you take in the present are.
This keeps you from the depression that comes from looking too far or too deeply into the past. It’s also a helpful deterrent from the anxiety that you get by dwelling too much on the future.
Benefit 3: It Will Inspire You to See How Far You’ve Come.
I can always tell how good a week was by how many capitalized words and exclamation points I see in the answers to the questions within my weekly review. In the last few weeks, there have been a lot.
The cool thing about my system is that it makes a positive review far more likely through the accountability for overachieving and underachieving that I mentioned previously.
It feels good to accomplish goals. But too often we’re just looking to the next step so much that we fail to celebrate. Reviewing your past week gives you a chance to celebrate losing that pound or getting a new client.
I also think this is why having a weekly review makes you more likely to accomplish your goals. If you’re continually looking to the next step, it’s easy to get bogged down and want to give up.
Celebrating wins through a weekly review, on the other hand, gives you a motivation boost that you wouldn’t get otherwise!
Benefit 4: A Weekly Review is One Way to Sharpen the Saw.
Habit 7 of Stephen Covey’s famous 7 Habits of Highly Effective People is “sharpen the saw.”
It’s based on the idea that if you had to cut down a tree, you’d do it faster if you spent most of your time sharpening your tool. Covey teaches that in life, we are the saw that we must sharpen.
But how can you sharpen something if you don’t know anything about it? If I asked you to sharpen a tool you didn’t know, you wouldn’t have a clue where to begin.
The same is true for yourself. How can you become better if you don’t even know where you’re at right now? The process of gathering information that comes through a weekly review gives you this vital information.
Research on self-awareness indicates there are scores of benefits to it, including the following:
- Improved listening skills, emotional intelligence, and empathy
- Better decision-making and critical-thinking abilities
- Deeper relationships and communication skills
- Enriched leadership abilities
All of those perks can be yours through the self-awareness you’ll get by having a weekly review!
Now It’s Your Turn
I want you to have the life-improvements that I’ve had from this system myself. If you enter your email below, I’ll send you a free copy of my quarterly goals spreadsheet as part of the Goal Engineering Starter Kit so you can get started doing it yourself.
I love my weekly planning and review sessions. It’s enjoyable to see how far I’ve come, enjoy the benefits of self-awareness, and adjust my goals based on feedback.
I like knowing that my “saw” is sharp and ready to start each week fresh and focused from the accountability that my weekly review provides.
I’m confident that this small thing will have a significant impact on your life too. What are you waiting for, grab the starter kit now!