TGIF is what helps us to wake up and goad us on at the end of a long week of slog. And given our breathless 24/7 wired lives, I’ve got a good hunch that its sheer relief is more necessary than ever even if flexitime and remote work are becoming more mainstream. So, anyone in the working world would probably come down on me with a tonne of bricks if I had to merely hint at what a good idea it is to reflect upon the past week before Monday morning inevitably looms.
When I chew over my week, I see myself fluctuating between obsessing and responding with mood-triggered gut spontaneity, just like my penchant for long or short skirts. Knee-length or mid-calf never work for me. Ergo, despite believing in the Greek wisdom of the ‘middle way’, it has always been a struggle for me to follow this avenue in any sphere of my life. And I guess it will always be. Nevertheless, what has helped me clinch a kind of via media was planning lessons during my teaching years. And by planning, I mean pondering on what I need to cover, how to get it across, how the kids responded/would respond, what aced it or didn’t – not filling moronic sheets full of boxes which thankfully I was never compelled to do. Having said that, there were times when all plans fell by the wayside or I had to rely on total improvisation either because of unforeseen circumstances or a student’s query/feedback made sense to do so. Although I have changed my career path, I have not given up chewing over my week.
My best thinking time is before shutting eye while I’m lying down in the dark, the commute to and from work, going for a walk and as weird as it sounds while doing the ironing.
Unlike most people, I don’t loathe this chore. On the contrary, I find the motions of flattening creases in sync with removing some of the cobwebs in my head.
Admittedly brooders like me don’t need much cajoling to mull over their working week. But once you get into the habit, self-assessment becomes second nature. More importantly, it helps to build on good practices, avoid unnecessary stress and seek solutions to problems. Above all this exercise spurs being honest with yourself which goes a long way in deriving job satisfaction or, realize that it’s time to change direction. Francois de La Rochefoucauld’s philosophical perspective of human nature nailed it when he said:
We promise according to our hopes, and perform according to our fears.
Here goes a list of 10 questions which true professionals routinely ask themselves:
- What did I learn this week?
There is always something to learn. Therefore, difficulty in answering this question immediately points to stagnation – never a good thing. Deep reflection is the way forward to get out of your rut. Tackling this question is also one of the best ways to improve soft skills as well as deal with office politics with more of a head/heart balancing act.
- What did I achieve this past week?
No matter how trivial, a sense of achievement is always a reason to celebrate. It is a big boost to self-confidence while tracking progress.
- Did I have an unforgettable moment?
If a happy yes, relish the adrenaline rush and learn to cherish its fond memories. If it has been a downer digest it, flush it out of your system and move on. Sensitive souls find this a challenge, but it’s a discipline that is worth honing because it avoids unnecessary stress and agro.
- What did I find most challenging over the past week?
This is a good way of facing difficulties with sincerity and integrity as well as turning challenges into opportunities. It’s also an ideal way of learning from past mistakes.
- What worried me most during the past week?
Taking note of your main concerns is not the same as wallowing in them. It also helps to prioritise together with thinking positively rather than negatively. Also, do not be afraid to discuss the issue/s with someone you trust and who can give you good advice.
- What was my biggest distraction this past week?
Having your plans thwarted by an unexpected turn of events or a lack of self-discipline is a staple in many a workplace. Dealing with distractions, whatever their source, is a stressbuster and a great improver in time-management.
- Is there someone I need to clear the air with?
Awkward or unpleasant situations in any workplace do arise and the quicker they are dealt with, the better for everyone. Anger and bitterness are prime causes of a toxic atmosphere and will only get worse if not nipped in the bud. My advice is to use your eyes and nose to find the right moment by ensuring that the person you need to confront is in a good mood and relatively accessible – timewise at least. Try to remain calm throughout and end on a humorous note that drives your point home.
- Is there someone I need to praise or thank?
We all bask in the sun of praise and love to feel appreciated. So, show your genuine appreciation and gratitude appropriately and without flattery.
- What are my main goals for next week?
This is how you learn to prioritise and tackle challenges from new perspectives. Keep your list realistic and doable. Burning yourself out is totally counterproductive
- Is there someone I need to help next week?
Far from being naïve or hypocritical, giving a required helping hand yields the targeted results while offering a lesson in kindness and good manners. Reaching out to colleagues fosters authentic team building and demarcates enthusiastic learners from apathetic bummers. I’ve always found this one of the best barometers to forge friendships at work that last even when people change jobs or retire.
The above guidelines are adaptable to any work environment meaning they need to be contextualized and amplified for maximum effect.
Re-read the questions and you will realise that they are quintessential to goal-oriented people and respected leaders. Even if your job status does not have you pegged on the uppermost rungs, these are the questions that instill and sustain a professional attitude, which is all about nurturing self-pride and self-dignity in what you do.
Each member of staff is important. Thinking over your week proves it.