When I was in my teenage years, I remember my father, almost every night, sitting on his bed, just staring into space… or at least, that’s what I thought. When I asked him about it one day he told me he was meditating. When I asked why and what about he told me that he felt it was calming for his mind. He was a district court judge and questioned his own judgment quite frequently. He’d sit and review cases and testimony in his head and try to confirm for himself that he’d made the right decisions, or if he had to make a change in the outcome somehow. He’d also ponder what the days ahead might hold and try to get himself “mentally in the game” as he put it.

Looking back now I realize the power of what he was doing and have a better understanding of his motivation. While we all act (hopefully) in a way that we believe is in line with our morals, ethics and responsibilities, it’s normal to sometimes question what we’ve done in hindsight. Contemplating our actions allows us to correct our behavior, learn from mistakes, or reaffirm the correctness and justice of what we’ve done.

It occurred to me that this process might be more disciplined and become of greater benefit if we targeted it with a purpose. To that end, when I saw this meme online, I wanted to share it and some thoughts about it. The idea, in general, is that on Sunday evening – or, if your “weekend” is midweek, then whatever is the day before you begin your work week is – that you contemplate your goals and actions for the week ahead. You spend some time “getting your head in the game” as my father would have put it.

Let’s review what the steps can be and then I encourage you to adjust them to better fit your personal situation and needs.

My #1 priority for the week is…

What? And is it the same every week? In a lot of cases, week to week, what we have to prioritize changes. Often we start a Monday morning thinking we have one priority and then get (figuratively) smacked in the face with something else that takes precedence. While we can’t ever stop the unexpected from happening, by having a clear idea of what our priorities are for the week – at home and at work – we can minimize the impact of interruptions and surprises. Knowing those priorities also helps us work through the remainder of this thought resolution process.

I want to do less…

Less what? Complaining? Wasting time? Wasting money? Watching TV? Playing games? Look at the week you’ve just finished and identify ONE thing you think you should do less of, not because it was a bad thing to do but because you feel that doing less of that one thing will give you time to do more of something else. That something else should benefit you in some way.

I want to do more…

…and this is the follow on thought to identify what it is you want to do more of. Exercise? Communicate? Write? Read? Cook? Visit friends? What do you want to do with the time you make available by reducing whatever it is you want to do less of. This should be a balance. Do less of X so you can do more of Y. If you went through this process last week, then the question becomes, were you successful? Did you actually do less of X and more of Y?  If not, why not? Adjust accordingly.

This week I want to feel…

Most of us would just say, “Better.” I want to feel better; but better about what or in what way? This week I want to feel like I accomplished more at work. This week I want to feel like I made my spouse happier with more spontaneous surprises or little moments in her day. This week I want to feel that I increased my knowledge base or lowered my weight. What you want to feel doesn’t have to be a generic feeling but can be pretty specific if you take the time to identify the goal.

To feel this way I will…

Goals are only dreams until you have a plan to attain them and enact that plan. To succeed in getting that feeling you want – as identified above – you have to develop and put into action your plan. What is the first step? Second step and so on? What are the milestones you want to reach in the coming week if it will take longer than a week to attain your goal(s)? Having a plan and working it is the one thing you can do to change dreams into realities.

If I get stuck I’ll remember…

This may be the most important item in the Sunday evening review. You’ve gone through the other steps and now you have to find that one thing that will keep you motivated if you get stuck or put off track. When that unexpected thing happens and you have to get back to your plan, what is the thought, person, goal, etc. that you will remember, knowing that it will reinvigorate your commitment to attaining the goal(s) you’ve set?

– – – –

By going through this process each week, and then acting on the results of your meditative process, you can increase the value of your life each week. You can increase your perceived happiness and feelings of accomplishment. In doing this, you are forced to review the week you just finished and to remember the lessons learned as well as the enjoyments experienced. This is a continuing self-improvement process and one that, if practiced weekly, you can see benefit from within a relatively short period of time. So make a date with yourself for Sunday night and get that quality-of-life improvement underway.

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