“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ― Søren Kierkegaard
After 25 years of high performance at Microsoft, what did I learn about my best productivity methods and tools?
Well, I want to give you my single greatest proven practice for continuous personal growth, mindfulness, and mental well-being.
I call it The Friday Reflection Habit.
This is a simple to invest in your personal growth. It’s so simple and yet the changes can be so profound.
I am a real fan of lightweight, learning actions with leverage, that compound your tiny efforts over time.
The Friday Reflection Habit is exactly that, and it puts your personal growth into automatic pilot.
By making some time for yourself on your calendar, and reflecting on some questions, you instigate profound personal growth.
It’s the best way I’ve learned to awaken your greatness and unlock what you are fully capable of.
What is the Friday Reflection Habit
The Friday Reflection Habit is simply a recurring routine on Fridays where you “reflect” or “think back” over the your past week.
You create some quiet time on your calendar to hit pause, and then reflect on your past week by giving some serious thought or consideration to a set of insightful questions.
The Friday Reflection Habit is really a way to check in with yourself to first acknowledge and appreciate what you are doing well, and then look for real ways to improve.
What makes this habit so powerful are the questions that you choose to reflect on.
Better questions, better insights. Better insights, better results.
And the better you get at Friday Reflection, the better you will get at whatever challenges you choose to focus on.
I created my Friday Reflection Habit as a spin off from my Monday Vision, Daily Wins, Friday Reflection from Agile Results.
I wanted to build on a solid success pattern where each individual habit is powerful, but the habits together are “better together.”
How To Practice the Friday Reflection Habit
You can practice Friday Reflection in a very simple way.
To do the Friday Reflection Habit:
- Create a recurring calendar appointment called Friday Reflection Habit. Seriously, add it to your calendar. This simple step is the life changing part. If it’s on your calendar, you will actually do it.
- In the body of your calendar appointment, plug in a set of Reflection Questions. Reflection Questions are the specific questions you will use to reflect on your past week. Below are example questions.
- Each Friday, when your calendar appointment pops up, step into each question. Look back over the past week on thoughts, feelings, and actions.
Imagine this upcoming week for chances to practice better thoughts, better feelings, better actions.
Really imagine what good would look like and really *feel* it in your bones.
Really look to the past week for patterns for of improvement for the future – and carry your learning forward…it will compound over time.
That’s the Friday Reflection Habit.
You can use the Friday Reflection Habit to create profound changes in yourself over time…Your mind is the limit.
The real surprise of this simple habit is that significant improvements will sneak up on you. You won’t even see them coming.
You will just start noticing, hey, I’m showing up and performing differently.
And that’s your signal you are changing your abilities in the right direction.
Example Reflection Questions for Agile Results
Agile Results is my simple system for better productivity. It works for teams and leaders. I wrote about it in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way.
The Agile Results Reflection Questions are a handful of key questions to check in with yourself:
- What are 3 things going well?
- What are 3 things to improve?
- What behaviors will you practice next week?
You might find a variation that works better for you, but it’s a simple set of questions to start with.
Be sure to really appreciate what things are going well.
This is your chance to get more mindful and your chance to practice your Attitude of Gratitude.
Personalize and Update Your Reflection Questions
This is just a set of starter questions. You may outgrow them over time, or find new ones that serve you better.
Don’t ever see a checklist as a static thing—see a checklist as a dynamic thing.
If you have a Growth Mindset, but a fixed checklist, you have a problem.
Treat your checklist and Reflection Questions live a living thing that grows as you grow.
Why the Friday Reflection Habit is Super Effective
With the Friday Reflection Habit, you get to practice giving and getting better feedback to yourself.
This is how you go from self-critic to self-coach. (Er, let me say that differently, this is how you “grow” from critic to coach.)
By practicing an Attitude of Gratitude and letting go of judgment, you simply replay and observe your relevant scenes from the past week.
Without judgment, you look to the results you are getting.
That’s your feedback.
And if you don’t like your results, change your approach.
Bear in mind, this is not a habit where you are learning the violin.
This is a “meta-habit” where you are improving how you learn and do everything that matters to you.
Best of all, it’s a lightweight, simple habit where you put in a little effort to compound your improvement over time.
Friday Reflection is a Simple Way to Practice an Attitude of Gratitude
One of the best things about the Friday Reflection Habit, is that it’s a simple way to practice an attitude of gratitude for yourself.
You don’t have to worry about anybody else catching you doing something great.
In fact, many times, you will catch yourself creating more meaningful moments through thoughtful choices and responses.
It’s a great feeling, at the end of the week, when you can actually appreciate what you have done well.
It’s your chance to celebrate your personal and private victories.
And you better do this, so that you continue to do the things that grow you and help you become the greatest version of yourself.
Don’t let the anybody stop you from realizing your potential. And don’t let you stop you from becoming your better you.
Friday Reflection is a Simple Way to Practice Mindfulness
As you practice Friday Reflection, you will actually get more mindful.
This is your chance to slow down, to speed up.
This is your chance to really, and fully, become more mindful in your ways.
When you know that each Friday you will be checking in with yourself, you have given your mind a chance to pay attention.
You will catch yourself throughout the week doing behaviors that you’d like to improve.
You will start to catch yourself in those leadership moments and learning opportunities.
And you will want to be able to choose better responses.
The Friday Reflection Habit puts into a place a continuous loop of learning where your reflection helps you become more conscious of better choices.
And, as you become more conscious, as you become more aware, you start to think better, feel better, and do better, over time.
Feedback is the Ultimate High-Performance Tool
The reason The Friday Reflection Habit works so well is because there is a secret that high performance coaches know that others don’t:
Feedback is the ultimate high-performance tool.
I’ve asked countless high-performance coaches if they could only pick one tool from their toolbox to compound somebody’s performance, what would it be?
The answer always ended up being feedback.
Feedback is the most profound lever for changing somebody’s game, among all the fancy frameworks and tools.
If you don’t get why, research how John Wooden created some of the most successful teams in basketball history.
Wooden’s “secret” was deep personalized feedback for each individual on the team. He focused on precise feedback in terms of behaviors each individual could work on.
What a sharp contrast over generalized advice for the overall team.
The Story of the Friday Reflection Habit
I took a full look back over 25 years at Microsoft to identify my single, greatest habit for continuous personal growth.
Microsoft is a really highly competitive environment, so whatever productivity methods and tools I use, have to actually work in some pretty extreme scenarios.
Of all the tools in my tool chest, what is the one tool that made the greatest impact in work and life?
What was the single most significant habit or practice that really changed my game in the most significant ways?
And I found it…It was my Friday Reflection Habit!
My Friday Reflection Habit was the difference that made the difference.
And, all it took was carving out a small block of time on my Fridays and having my checklist popup so I could review and reflect on the questions.
Each Friday, I would simply ask myself, “What are 3 things going well?”, and “What are 3 things to improve?”
Then I would explore the question, “What behaviors do I want to work on or practice next week?” (and thoughts are behaviors, too).
This simple habit would help me identify a small set of thoughts, behaviors and actions to carry forward and improve into the next week.
The real surprise for me has been how profound this simple Friday Reflection Habit has been.
I never fully appreciated it until I really took a look back and saw the forest for the trees.
And this was the tallest evergreen among my tools.
How I Evolved the Friday Reflection Habit
As I got better at this habit, and it became more automatic, I started to plug in additional “checklists” or set of Reflection Questions to work on.
Reflection Questions are a simple way to explore your potential through inquiry.
I’ve created multiple sets of Reflection Questions to work on different aspects of work and life.
Sometimes, all it takes to see things a new way, or to do things a new way, is to improve your awareness.
The right questions can help you focus on the right things or help make the invisible visible.
For example. if I were to ask you, “How was your day?”, I might get a response such as, “It was good.”
But if I ask you, “What was the favorite part of your day?”, that’s a very different focus, and likely a much better conversation.
I’ve studied, learned, and practiced a wide variety of ways to ask better questions.
Sometimes, the simplest way to crack the nut on where you are stuck is to change the questions you ask yourself.
Change your questions, change your results.
Use the Friday Reflection Habit as Your Personal Growth Platform
Think of your Friday Reflection Habit as a simple self-development and learning platform for your continuous growth and greatness.
And the question you ask yourself and reflect on will be the keys to realizing your potential.
The Friday Reflection Habit is by far my most effective tool for improving mindfulness, mastering productivity, and waking up my potential.
Experiment and play with the Friday Reflection Habit to see how it can work for you.
Call to Action
- Add the Friday Reflection Habit to your calendar.
- When you practice the Friday Reflection Habit, remind yourself you are slowing down to speed up.
- Practice growing from your worst critic to your best coach and focusing on specific behavior changes that help you become your greatest self.
You Might Also Like
The Monday Vision Habit
3 Wins for Today
10 Big Ideas from Agile Results
The 3 Wins Approach
Day I the Life of Agile Results
Getting Started with Agile Results
How I Do Monday Vision the Agile Way
How To Use Agile Results to Build Empathy for Your Future Self
Chapter 5 – Monday Vision, Daily Outcomes, Friday Reflection