Self-improvement through planning: Monthly reflection

When I went through my first planer (a Passion Planner) I was really impressed about the effects of the monthly reflection. I wanted to include a reflection in my BuJo, but didn’t really know where to start.

I knew I had to make my months “measurable” in some way. So I could 20160715_121505begin my monthly reflection with something objective, something concrete I could reflect upon. Pinterest to the rescue! Found a “Year in pixels”-spread (made by @passioncarnets). Doesn’t get any more measurable than that. And I made my own version the next day. I included a “Recipe for my best day” and altered the color-coding so it fit me.

My color-coding of pixels

I’m a glass half-full kinda girl, and even on my off-days I am grateful to even have a glass. So in line with the proactive, positive, and grateful approach I wish to have to my life. So I chose the following color-coding and categories of days:

  • 20160715_121603Blue: Best day
  • Yellow: Great day
  • Pink: Okay day
  • Purple: Off-day
  • Red: Sick day

I changed my approach on life a couple of years ago. Maybe this sounds weird… And I don’t wish to sound “holier than though”… So bear with me. In my last post I wrote about how I felt my life was passing me by, while I was waiting on my days to magically morph into good days. It didn’t happen – shocking! So I chose that from now on my days were great; my days were great simply because I had them.

Now I won’t lie: This change didn't happen overnight. It took a while to reprogram my approach. Without sugarcoating: It probably took a year or20160715_165311 so to reprogram myself. Worked on it each day, had setbacks – several, reevaluated – a lot, journaled – a whole lot, and then worked some more.
It takes a fair while to change patterns of thoughts – but I felt the positive effects while I was working on myself. So this kept me going. When I felt like giving up – and I did, many times – I reminded myself why I started; what I wanted to change and why.

I wanted to share this to explain that to all my day-pixel-categories is a positive twist. Even my off-days have a slight positive spin, since they’re still days in my life. On those days I’m grateful to just have a glass; while I take time off to recharge and regroup. No failing, just learning.

Recipe for my best day: Go back to basics

I added this because I want to be able to categories as many days as possible as a Best or Great day. Therefor a chose a very basic definition of my best day. This way I can color many of my days as Best, Great, or Okay days. It’s all about approach! And choices!

20160715_165155I realized two years ago that if I got through a day with all limbs intact, if I smiled or laught a bit, kissed and hugged my boys, got them through the day in a descent manner, and we all had a full stomach, were safe, and glad went we went to bed; then it was a good day.

Now I’m not saying you can’t have bad days! We all have them. Days where we are down, sick, have a headache or just feeling off. Days where we need to recharge, refocus, and reboot.

But what I am saying is: If we “lover the bar” (= change the criteria for when a day is a Best or Great day) we actually have more good days in our life - voila!

In this process you also minimize the burden of perfectionism, and you indirectly tell your overachiever of an inner judge/critic to "Put a cork in it!". No day is ever perfect, so don't let your inner voice tell you that a few imperfections discredits the day as a great day! It all boils down to the following: This is a day lived in your life. So my philosophy is to optimize the likelihood of me coloring it in as a good pixel.

At first I felt this was cheating. But then I recategorized it as a change of approach. And that’s not cheating; that’s being proactive!

What should your Best day include?20160715_165241

How I do my monthly reflection

My process:

  • I count how many days I have had of each pixel and note it down in my reflection-template
  • Then I review this month habit trackers. How do they look? How did I do with the habits I wanted to work on/include/change?
  • I glance over my goals in my “Level 10 life” and the results. Does anything need changing? Can I check some off?
  • Last but not least I note my gut felling. How do I feel about this month?

20160715_121551I have my reflection-templates done a few months in advance, so this isn’t an excuse for not doing them! They include 7 lines for journaling on process: Progress and setbacks. This is then summed up: More of and Less of. Pretty self-explanatory. But very essential; since this emphasizes what I should keep in mind for next month. in order to get this transformed into something concrete I have 5 boxes for How to’s to be included in next month.

Self-development isn’t easy

Some months I still feel myself resisting my monthly reflection. I just don’t want to see on paper that things didn’t go as planned, I don’t wish to see that I have been unproductive, or that my self-development stood still.

Then I have to remind myself why I started with my monthly reflection:
I need this to keep track of my progress – or lack of – regarding 20160710_200024my planning and self-improvement. It’s also worth knowing that the resistance you may be feeling is natural. Your brain just doesn’t recognize the need for doing stuff that hurts you. It doesn’t want you to feel hurt, it wants to protect you (even though you may actually need to hurt in order to grow), it doesn’t want you to “waste” your energy because it often regards status quo as good enough (since it's main criteria for success is: You are alive). Your brain will make you “forget” your reflection, make excuses, procrastinate, and maybe convince you that you don’t need to reflect.

But you are the boss of your brain! So you choose what you wish and need to do. Take note your resistance, accept it, note it – if you need to; journal about it, and then continue anyway. Because you have to feel it in order to heal it (sounds like an 80’ies Nike slogan – but it's true). And if you need another reason: “You can't change what you don't acknowledge!” (Dr. Phil).

The benefits of a (honest) monthly reflection

One of the most noteworthy benefits is that you learn much more about yourself:

  • Strengths and weaknesses20160710_195940
  • Your planning style
  • What you tasks/appointments you tend to avoid and why
  • How you have changed during the past month
  • What you've learned in 30 days?
  • What is working in your planner and what isn't?
  • If something isn't working (AND THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT!!): Is this because of your planning-style or is it you who needs to work with something in order to make your planning work again?

The most important things about a monthly reflection: Make it what you need! You know if you need to reflect, you know what’s holding you back, you know what you have to reflect upon, you know what you need to work on and in what direction you wish to move.

You can customize “My year in pixels”, “Recipe for my best day”, and the reflection-template 100% in order to fit your needs and wants.

Any questions? Comment below.

Go make your days great!

Kristine - xoxo