June is here! Summer is at your doorstop. Have you been going non-stop for the past several months? I know I have. Overwhelm is the word of the day. June is usually that month to “get things done” before the vacation season (and then collapse).
Why not use this mid-year time to take a step back, get your bearings, and think big picture to set yourself up for a successful second half of the year? This isn’t about reviewing your quarterly earnings or figuring out how you stack up on your New Year’s resolutions. I’m talking about taking three steps:
- Reflect on the first half of 2017 to see what worked, what didn’t, and to celebrate accomplishments.
- Rest to give your brain and body a break from the daily grind.
- Reset priorities to make the best use of your time and energy while seizing you best opportunities.
Here are 11 questions questions to ask yourself.
What did you accomplish?
Take the time to capture what you got done and then really celebrate that progress. This is not a time just to look at what didn’t happen. Try to take it beyond the basics like your income or whether you completed a project. What did you learn? What problem did you solve? What challenge did you overcome? Writing these accomplishments down can give you a needed shot of energy to launch your planning for the rest of the year.
What worked and didn’t work?
What kinds of activities were clear winners in terms of productivity and success? What activities didn’t work either because they didn’t achieve what you hoped or because they drained you? Which activities are still “pending” and it’s not clear yet whether the investment is the right one? Remember, not meeting a goal doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve had a fail! It could mean you set your goal too high (at least initially) or that you need to remember there are often many “fails” on the road to success.
Where did you truly excel?
This isn’t just a rehash of “what worked” for you. All of us have our special gifts – our strengths – that make us uniquely strong at what we do. When did you hit a home run? When did you shine with your peers or clients? There is a good chance that while you were exercising your strengths, you felt energized about work. This provides you with a strong clue about where to put your time in the future. When you put your strengths to work, productivity and accomplishments soar.
How can you give your health the attention it deserves?
When we get busy, we tend to stop nurturing our body. We sleep less. We eat poorly. We fail to exercise. Now is a perfect time to reflect on how you want to change and improve your diet, sleep more, and improve your exercise regime for the rest of the year. The summer should provide you more time (at least more daylight hours) to invest in your health. When you are rested and healthy, you will be more ready to take on your day.
What can you do to clear your mind?
Resting your thinking brain is essential. In fact, the busier you get, the more downtime you need. Our minds are constantly on over-drive and drain us. Did you know that 70,000 thoughts run through our minds every day, many of them negative? Mind-wandering is draining us. Clearing our cluttered minds will make us more productive and gives us energy. How can you create space some space every day to declutter your mind through mediation, exercise, or other calming brain activity?
How do you want to feel?
Surely life isn’t just about things we want to accomplish and stuff we want to acquire! When you think about what you want, ask yourself, “How do I want to feel?” Calm? Freedom? Inspired? Hopeful? How do you want a normal day to unfold? The key question is what do you need to do in order to achieve that feeling? For example, if you want to feel more energetic then look at diet and exercise goals. If you want to be inspired, then consider activities and people that inspire you. If you want to be more calm, consider organizing your schedule to have more downtime.
What do you want to learn?
Our brains are happier when we learn something new. Absorbing yourself in something you haven’t done before will excite and allow you to feel more creative. What do you want to learn to take your business to the next level? What hobby do you want to explore that will give you some fun in your “off” time? What book is still sitting on your bookshelf waiting for you? Allow your curiosity to drive you.
What kind of relationships do you want to pursue?
Relationships are critical to your psychological health. They also happen to be essential for business and getting your job done. What relationship do you want to invest in? Who do you want to spend time with for meaningful connection? How will you make time to invest in these relationships?
What will challenge you?
Life motivates and inspires us when we try something new. Consider pursuing something you view as new significant challenge. If you want to grow your business, you will need to take some risks. On a personal level, is there something you’ve always wanted to do but fear has gotten in the way? What is your challenge? Don’t shy away if the challenge makes you feel uncomfortable or fearful. Indeed, we grow when we explore and experience new things.
What can you drop?
Likely, there is already too much on your crammed calendar. Dropping things isn’t always easy but when they are gone it can be freeing. Take a look at what you are committed to. What you can drop or reduce? What isn’t a productive use of your time? Be practical but be ruthless.
What can you invest in that makes you strong?
Do you know which activities in your life – at work or for play – bring you the most energy? Is it writing? It is meeting with clients? It is getting immersed in a project?
Take the time.
When you take the time to get off auto-pilot you will discover all sorts of things you haven’t thought about. Set up for a strong second half of your 2017 by taking time to get off that hamster wheel. By answering these questions, you may find some you will take some important shifts in your focus. Your priorities might change. Above all, you probably will feel a little better.