Reflection shouldn’t be limited to December.

If you’re on The Tending Letter mailing list , you learned in yesterday’s letter that I am theming April the “Month of No.” I decided on this theme after I reflected on the ways I overcommitted myself in March. The commitments were all important to me, and most were a lot of fun, but reflection showed me that too many commitments can zap my resources, particular energy, focus, and time.

I wrote in my 1.51 post: Reflection: Whys and Hows that our general adversity to reflection “may be due in part to its complex double act of reviewing and planning: by definition, the verb ‘reflect’ means both ‘to bend or fold back’ and ‘to make manifest or apparent.’ Or, we might simply not know how to do it, why it matters, and we don’t want to waste our thinly-spread-as-it-is time.”

When we make reflection a quarterly practice, we remove some of the pressure we experience in evaluating a whooooole year of highs, lows, lessons, and changes. While a yearly reflection offers us a picture of our overall path, a quarterly review reveals the rich details of specific goals on a small scale and allows us to set achievable goals and mindful intentions for our next one, two, or three quarters. 

Methods of Reflection

There are tons of yearly reflection question lists on the internet and podcastosphere (I list some of my favorites in the 1.51 post). However, the purpose of a quarterly reflection is to check in on your short-term changes and as a result make short-term, actionable plans. Your reflection process should match your intention. I suggest breaking up your quarterly reflection process into specific sections, such as the four below.

Values

Values are a recurrent topic in The Tending Year. Your individual values might shift from season to season, as might their state of abundance. Quarterly reflections are a great time to notice which of your values are thriving and which are lacking, as well as noting any changes to your core value list in the last quarter.

You can identify your values with my exercise “Three Keys to Abundance” and this List of Core Values, and you can read how I reevaluated my value “buckets” in “How I Got Clarity and Finally Turned it Over.” 

Projects

One of the benefits of a quarterly reflection is the ability to track your short-term progress on long-term goals. When you separate your progress into smaller projects, you can track your achievements and acknowledge them as actual progress, even if you haven’t yet crossed off your long-term goals (yet!).

Emotions

Awareness of what types of things prompt you to feel particular emotions is wonderful fodder for making intentional decisions to manifest the kinds of experiences you want to have and the emotions you want to feel.

Resources

When I say “resources,” I mean the things that you expend or exchange throughout your days. Your individual resources might include focus, energy, spoons (see this post to learn about spoon theory), willpower, stamina, patience, money, time, etc. Some of these resources are renewable, but some are not, so it’s important to have awareness about how we expend and exchange them.

 

This week’s takeaway is a list of my favorite quarterly reflection questions. I hope you find them as helpful as I did!

< < You can access a printable PDF of the questions here: Quarter One Reflection Prompt > >

Values

  • When did I feel most passionate last quarter? Why then?
  • When did I feel bored or resentful? Why?
  • What experiences meant the most to me? Why those?
  • Which of my values is thriving? Which is lacking? Why?

Projects

Identify a project, then ask yourself…

  • Where was I with this project three months ago?
  • Where would I like to be with this project three months from now?
  • What aspect of this project was most difficult this quarter? Why?
  • What are practical ways I can make this project less difficult in the next 3 months?

Emotions

  • What were times when I had a lot of fun? 
  • When was I sad? How did I cope?
  • When was I proud of myself? Why?
  • What emotions would I like to experience more of in the next 3 months?
  • What are practical ways I can set myself up to experience those emotions?

Resources

  • What made me feel energized and excited?
  • When did I feel the most tired? Why?
  • When did I feel”in the zone” or in a state of flow?
  • If I have chronic pain/illness, when was it worse or better? Why?
  • Did I expend too many of my resources? Which ones? 
  • How can I use my resources with more intention next quarter?