Discover more from Renier’s Substack
The Power of Weekly Reflections (+how to do it)
How a simple practice can lead to powerful results
In the rush of our fast-paced lives, we often overlook the power of self-reflection. But what if a simple practice could lead to profound personal growth?
In this article, I'll share my journey with weekly reflections, the powerful realization I discovered after following it for 52 weeks, and practical tips to incorporate this practice into your own life (including a fully fledged, free Notion template).
The concept of Weekly Reflections
Let's start by unpacking what weekly reflections are and the process I follow. In essence, a weekly reflection (or a review, same thing) involves dedicating time, 30-45 mins is typically enough for me, at the end of each week to reflect on and summarise the week's happenings.
During each review, I focus on two major things: achievements and disappointments. You could label these differently, like wins and misses, but the key is to capture the highs and lows of your week. Things that made you feel good, and things that did the opposite. And not just the big things - I capture anything from consistently waking up early to getting promoted, or conversely from snoozing too much to dropping the ball on something important. Importantly, the goal is not to log everything (that would take way too much time). Just what ever stands out and is top of mind.
The underlying goal is to mine my own experience for insight into what is meaningful to me, in order to prioritise and spend my time on the things that have the highest impact on my quality of life. Capturing achievements and disappointments at the weekly level allows me to do this sort of “mining” over longer periods of time (quarterly or yearly) and with reduced recency bias.
The Pillars System
Every achievement or disappointment is assigned to a specific category, or what is referred to as a "pillar". Derived from the Pillars, Pipelines, and Vaults framework, these pillars represent the main areas of activity in your life. For example, Physical Health, Mental Health, Wealth, Relationships, Career, Fun, and so forth.
If you were to list everything you spend your time on, then group those things into clusters, these pillars would be the clusters that arise.
The image above shows my own pillars. Naturally every person would have different pillars.
Now let’s circle back to my own journey with weekly reflections. In June 2022, I began following this practice regularly. Six months later, in January 2023, I sat down to review the past year in order to plan for the upcoming year.
As part of this annual review, I analysed all my achievements and disappointments and tried to look for patterns that would help me decide where I should spend my time going forward. I found a powerful way of visualising this information was to calculate the difference between number of achievements and disappointments for each pillar. Intuitively, this should tell me which pillars are “doing well” and which need attention.
Here’s a simple graph showing my data between June and December 2022:
Looking at the chart above, immediately two things jumped out at me:
My career is going quite well.
Something is up with my physical health.
The first is easily explainable - I joined Unity in June 2022 and I have been fortunate enough to land in a dream team led by Emil Jørgensen. As you can tell, I have been having a blast!
The second was a bit more interesting to me at the time, so I started digging through the actual weekly reflections. From June to December 2022, I had 26 disappointments and 13 achievements linked to the Physical Health pillar. While I can't share the specifics (as they're quite personal), I discovered a common thread amongst them all - alcohol. Hangovers, bloating, weight gain, loss of sleep - nearly all my physical health-related disappointments could be traced back to alcohol consumption.
So, I made a decision to stop drinking alcohol for a year.
26 Weeks Later
Fast forward six months later to June 2023, as part of my half-yearly reflection, I reviewed my achievements and disappointments again.
Physical Health went from -10 to +3.
In terms of disappointments, that was a swing from 26 to 9 — a 3x reduction
No pillar has more disappointments than achievements
Now, I understand this measure is subjective - what constitutes a "disappointment" or “achievement” can vary significantly day to day and person to person. But one thing is clear - the reduction in my self-reported physical health disappointments signifies a clear positive shift in my physical health. And this insight wouldn't have been possible without the practice of weekly reflections.
Additionally, I find it very interesting to see how all other pillars have been positively affected.
A really nice addition to capturing achievements and disappointments is also capturing a single photo each week that highlights/summarises that period. Here is what ±54 weeks of photo highlights looks like:
I love being able to see important moments of my life over a whole year at a glance!
Over to you
If you found this interesting and would like to implement something similar, I have created a Notion template that will help you get started. This template should give you the basic building blocks, but you can really do these reflections in any tool including pen and paper. I’m just a huge Notion fan!
Until next time
Thanks for reading! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.