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What is a personal quarterly review? Why it’s a necessity not a luxury + Workbook

What is a personal quarterly review? Why it's a necessity and not a luxury.

After listening to readers rave about a book called “Essentialism”, I couldn’t help but be curious. The high praise it received got my attention.

In the book, the author, Greg McKeown, describes a defining moment when he realized that his career choices and decisions were not aligning with his values. This realization prompted him to develop a filter through which he would start deciding about how he would use his time. He called this filter Essentialism.

Greg defines Essentialism as the “disciplined pursuit of less.” The disciplined pursuit of less is not necessarily about having fewer material possessions. It is, however, learning to make better decisions about what we say yes to, and what we allow to fill our calendars, our minds, and our lives.

He found that to keep being disciplined in his pursuit of less, he needed to schedule what he called a “quarterly offsite review.”

The author, Greg McKeown, had what he called, “a defining moment” in his life when he realized that his choices and decisions in his career did not align with his values. From that, he created a filter through which he would decide how he would use his time. He calls this process Essentialism.

What caught my attention in Greg’s interview with Michael Hyatt was a concept that evolved after he wrote the book. It’s the idea of conducting a personal, offsite review – every 90 days.

Sidenote: When I originally wrote this post, I had only read part of the book and was captivated from the get-go. Since then, I have read the book and listened to the audiobook multiple times, with a goal of re-reading/re-listening at least once a year.

What is a Personal Quarterly Review?

A quarterly review is a block of time set aside to:

  • Look back at the previous 90 days and evaluate what worked and what didn’t.
  • Review your calendar and what you said yes to.
  • Examine and update the status of the goals you are working on.
  • Set goals for the next quarter.

What Questions Do You Ask During Your Review?

In my research and reading, it was hard to find concrete examples of what questions to ask. And there is a reason for that. Your list of review questions will be unique to you and different from everyone else.

Here is a list of questions I’ve put together to get you started:

  1. What worked well in the last 90 days?
  2. What didn’t work well?
  3. What did I say yes to that I enjoyed and/or moved me towards my goals?
  4. What should I have said no to?
  5. What is important right now? (Family, Friends, Career, Personal, etc.)
  6. What can I get rid of or stop doing?
  7. What do I need to start doing?
  8. Are my goals still worth pursuing?
  9. Are my goals in alignment with my values and priorities?

These are not lightweight questions. You need to give yourself time to think through them, pray over them, and journal your answers.

Over time, adjust these questions to create an experience unique to you that allows you to get the most out of these review sessions.

Tips For Your First 90-Day Review

Go Offsite:

I know from personal experience this step is a must. There are way too many distractions at home. You will always find more “should-do’s” that make it hard to focus and concentrate.

Go Analog:

There are a lot of benefits of writing by hand. When you put pen to paper and ignore the digital world for a while, it can help you process your review questions differently. In a good way! So, grab your favorite pen, some paper, or a journal, turn off your phone and start writing.

Create An Environment:

This may seem like an odd thing to consider, but it’s important. Creating an environment that works for you will set you up for success. It gives you space to think clearly, can spark your creative side, and can make the review process more enjoyable.

Ask yourself:

  • What time of day you are best able to focus?
  • When do you feel the most creative?
  • Where do you feel inspired?
  • Where can you go that takes you out of your everyday routine?
  • Do you prefer to do reflection time indoors or outdoors?
  • Do you think better in the quiet of a library or with the hum of conversation at a favorite coffee shop?

Keep A Journal:

Have a way to capture thoughts, ideas, plans, and any aha moments you discover during this evaluation and reflection time.

Keep It Simple:

Don’t overcomplicate this process. If you make it expensive, ultra time-consuming, or an event that you need a lot of supplies for, you won’t do it.

When you create a habit of consistent review and evaluation, you are laying a foundation for success and growth in your life. Regular reviews are an investment in your personal and business growth.

Soon, you too will come to think your review times are a necessity, not feel like a luxury.

Do you schedule personal quarterly reviews on your calendar?

A 2021 Update:

In a recent discussion with fellow business owners, we were talking about goal planning in 2020 and beyond. An interesting question came up. In a year that changed so quickly, sometimes daily, are 90-day plans still realistic?

Maybe 90-day plans were too stressful, anxiety-inducing, and discouraging for now. It made sense and reflected my journey of working on my business and setting personal goals since early 2020. It felt too much and too discouraging. But it was also frustrating to reach the end of the year and see a list of goals not reached nor plans made. Understandable, but frustrating.

There was a suggestion made of planning for 6 weeks at a time instead of 90 days. This made sense and is something I will test out for myself in the months to come. I’ll report back with an update.

A 2022 Update:
I’ve tried different planning methods and a hybrid approach is working best for me. Planning for 90 days but doing regular reviews and making adjustments monthly as needed.

Additional Resources

The more I read, the more I see that by creating a habit of consistent review and evaluation I am laying a foundation for success and growth in my life. I can see that this is an investment, a necessity, and not a luxury.

It’s time to cultivate a new habit.

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