Brain Food #582

Looking back to look forward

Thoughts of the day

I started doing a personal, end-of-the-week retrospective. It is not a diary entry, although it could be. I block out thirty minutes of my time and ask myself a series of questions, the same questions every week, and I answer them in writing, in an attempt to see what went well, what surprised me, what I learned. I also added a new question recently: “What do you want?”

This weekly appointment with oneself can help in diminishing the effect of negativity bias, which makes us quick to dismiss the positives in a story (sometimes our story), instead focusing on the negatives. We can be our own worst enemy, both by overlooking our achievements, but also by ignoring our flaws.

We may also have a bias towards action, and be more tempted to carry on doing, to get through the infinite to-do list that comes with being an adult. As Mary Oliver wrote, “Attention is the beginning of devotion.” To be devoted to oneself may need more than thirty minutes at the end of a hectic week, but it could be a start. Sometimes we need to look back to be able to look forward.


Some more questions that you can ask yourself:

  • What are you avoiding?

  • How are you helping those around you achieve their goals?

  • How are you not helping or even hindering their progress?

  • What was your most enjoyable interaction, and why?

  • How might you be contributing to your least enjoyable relationship?

  • How could you have been more effective in a recent project?

If this list triggers anything, I am curious to hear your questions, so please send them over by hitting reply.


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