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Are You Taking Time For Reflection?

As a business owner you’ve got a lot of things coming at you. It’s not in our nature to stop DOING long enough to make sure we’re doing the RIGHT things.

Written Feb 14, 2008, read 2410 times since then.


As a business owner you’ve got a lot of things coming at you.

Many of us are in business by ourselves. We’re responsible for EVERYTHING that has to happen in our respective businesses.

As a result we’re naturally going to have more on our to-do list than we could ever hope to accomplish — at least within the next week, month, or even 12 months. This alone can be overwhelming. So every chance we get we find ourselves chipping it down one by one.

It’s not in our nature to stop DOING long enough to make sure we’re doing the RIGHT things.

It’s hard to have the presence of mind to ask the questions that NEED asking.

  • Why am I doing this?
  • What problem am I trying to solve?
  • How does this advance me toward my goals?

But, we have to be ready to ask AND answer those questions, if we want to make any progress. Unless we always have complete clarity, we’re going to get off track.

Why It’s A Problem

You can go through the whole process of creating your vision and aligning your projects and outcomes towards that vision, but if you don’t step back and course correct from time to time your going to get off course.

Imagine a ship on the ocean. The captain can’t just set the course ‘due west’, fix the rudders, and then assume they’ll end up in the right port.

There are headwinds and currents your always fighting. There are storms that will pop up on radar that he’ll have to steer around.

My point is you can’t just set course once and assume everything will come out alright.

Business is not ’set it & forget it.’

You must constantly look to the horizon and monitor your progress. You need to measure your results and establish countermeasures to keep you on course.

How To Avoid This Mistake

Find - A really solid review shouldn’t take any more than 1-2 hours max. Now if you get on a roll, of COURSE please keep going — you’re the boss. But if you go in with the expectation you’ll probably resist it. Many people advise setting an appointment in your calendar for reflection and review. This never worked for me. I resist appointments and it feels like work. I had to find the time of day and week where I’d actually look FORWARD to the review. For me, that’s Friday afternoon. I’m looking forward to the weekend. I want to wrap up my work so I can enjoy my time off and rest up for next week.

Create your review environment - Again, I believe a review should be fun - something you look forward to. At the same time you need an environment that allows you to focus.

I work best when I’m in a coffee shop (or a bar) with people buzzing around me and my iPod playing music I love. It feels like play, but I’m working. I’m not just disconnecting from my week. I’m wrapping it up so I can hit the ground running on Monday.

Know what you want to accomplish - There are different types and depth of review. I focus on three levels.

A project review- This should be performed weekly. What’s currently in your world? What are you trying to accomplish in the next 30-90 days.

A goal review - a monthly review of your progress towards your goals. It’s a natural time to close the books look at your financial & non-financial metrics and reflect on what your goals are and what’s preventing you from getting there. Are you confident the projects your working on are moving you towards these goals.

A vision review - This is where you revisit your perfect day. You look at your goals and try to be sure that your vision, goals & projects are all in alignment. This next one is not so much about process but a place for exploration.

Have a checklist - Checklists are a great way to bring structure to blobular tasks - those jobs that don’t have a tangible end product. With a checklist, I know I only have to get through 5-8 steps and I’m done. I don’t resist the process because it’s defined. It lets me relax because I’m confident I’ll touch all the basis and I can track my progress.

Learn more about the author, Kelly Andrew Brown.

Comment on this article

  • Marketing 
Cincinnati, Ohio 
Lee Ann Anderson
    Posted by Lee Ann Anderson, Cincinnati, Ohio | Feb 20, 2008

    You've hit the nail right on the head. As the owner of two small businesses, I find my lists to be never ending. I am a "task master" by nature so the ability to "check off" tasks is very important to me. I do need to make time to reflect and not be so focused on depleting my to do list becasue as well know it never gets any smaller.

    Thanks you for the great tips on how to make reflecting a time to look forward to and not just another thing to do.

  • Executive Coach & Organization Consultant 
Kirkland, Washington 
Nancy Newman
    Posted by Nancy Newman, Kirkland, Washington | Apr 09, 2008

    I really appreciate this article. I have been an advocate of reflection time for years - the essense of my coaching practice is helping people do this. We are such an action-oriented culture that it is really hard to feel like reflection time is "real work" that is important and worth making a priority.