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Reflection is a powerful tool when used properly. The issue is that so many reflect as a means to knock themselves down further. "I knew I wasn't good enough. It didn't work out because I didn't have the same opportunity as that other person. My parents were right, etc." We are all heavyweight champions of beating ourselves up.
Reflection must serve a purpose; we must create a productive routine out of looking back and use it to ultimately propel ourselves forward. One way that I've found reflection to be most helpful is when it's done on a weekly basis.
Sunday night is a great time to do two things: look back on the previous week and figure out how best to attack the coming week. These two activities go hand-in-hand as we take the lessons from what we've already done to determine what we're going to do.
The simplest way to perform this reflection is to create three columns: positive, negative, and neutral. For each activity in your calendar from the week before, jot them down under one of these columns. Did you enjoy meeting a close friend for coffee? Put it in the positive column. Did you take on a responsibility you shouldn't have, and regretted doing so when it came time to pay up? Put it in the negative column. Many activities will also live in the neutral column; we may not love doing them but they are largely okay.
The idea is to take this information and, over time, increase the size of the positive column while decreasing the size of the negative column. Maybe there are activities you hate doing that can be delegated to someone else. Maybe you can optimize your systems to make a tedious activity more tolerable. Maybe there is a way to replicate activities you enjoy by adjusting your schedule each week.
However you get there, aiming to maximize the things that improve your quality of life is an effort worth making. The key is, we must reflect on each week with a mindset focused on progress and positive change. Don't penalize yourself if your negative list is longer than you'd like, just use it as fuel to make necessary changes in the future. If you never look back, you'll fall victim to walking the same path mindlessly.
The most interesting things I've encountered this week
What I'm reading: The Rational Optimist by Matt Ridley
The first step to improving oneself or building a better future is to cultivate optimism. Successful entrepreneurs, athletes, trailblazers, etc. are all optimists by nature. The key is to understand rational optimism, or how to be optimistic in a fashion that leads to realistic action.
A great article: "The mindset that helped a marathoner become one of the country’s best in just 4 years" by Mike Winters
This article is full of useful nuggets about how to approach goals in general, not just simply goals related to fitness, health, and wellness. One of my favorite quotes from the entire piece is, "I take my ego out of the way and go into things realistically, understanding that the end result honestly does not matter." Being able to separate inputs and effort from the results of outputs is a crucial skill for accomplishing goals and staying the course.
What I'm watching: Wim Hof Beginner Guided Breathing
I have tried to rekindle my breathing practices recently, and this video is a great intro to a powerful variation. Please note that you should do this in a safe, comfortable place while lying down or seated. Wim Hof breathing can cause you to get light-headed, so make sure you aren't standing, walking, or otherwise somewhere dangerous.
Quote of the week:
We often vastly underestimate our value in all walks of life. Don't race yourself to the bottom; focus on the unique combination of things you can bring to the table in any situation and hold your head high. The first step to being better is believing that you can be.