I spun around in my office looking for things I still had to collect. The obvious stuff was already packed, it was the back-of-mind stuff I was scanning for. Right, an extra pair of shoes! I had almost forgotten the sisters prefer their guests to change from outside shoes to inside ones. I am not particularly keen on this dirt-busting ritual. But, I scooped up an extra pair to be forearmed against socked feet in case I was caught shod in my outside footwear. With my gear stowed away in the back seat, I drove across town to the Marian retreat centre. I had reserved a quiet room for the day; this was going to be my third off-site quarterly review in 2015.
The ‘Why’ of Quarterly Reviews
I bumped into this idea in Greg McKeown’s book Essentialism. A quarterly off-site is one of the things I do to renew focus. I have goals, but then the “urgent” storms in and I am blown off course. I enjoy being engaged, but the “busy” blinkers me to implications and fresh opportunities. A planned time and a secluded place gives me a chance to reflect, to evaluate, and to refresh goals.
I agree with Greg we can’t have it all, we can’t just add another dream, responsibility, goal or obligation. Real value lies in knowing with clarity what is essential for our current season of life and pursuing that with passion and discipline. A quarterly off-site review is helping me do that.
The ‘How’ of Quarterly Reviews
I can’t say I have settle on the way to conduct a quarterly review, nor do I think there is only one way for me (or for you).
This time around I began with reading through my journal entries since the last review. I was looking for trends. What was bringing satisfaction, what was frustrating or depleting me? Were there things that were distracting me? Were there some new discoveries? I highlighted excerpts as I read. At the end, I re-read the highlights and synthesized them into bullet points. I thought and prayed about that summary. From that I established 3 goals for the next three months; one of those related to my personal life and two had connection to my work life. This process took about 3 1/2 hours.
After taking a break to grab a coffee I returned to spend a couple of hours planning some work projects. That wasn’t as beneficial as I had hoped. I was over-reaching given the time I had. Plus I was trying to shift gears from being reflective to being productive. I think next time I will schedule ‘dream’ time rather than ‘plan’ time.
Greg McKeown has what he calls the “rule of three”. He encourages people every three months, to spend three hours to identify the three most important objectives for the next three months. That might be a starting point, if off-site quarterly reviews is a new concept to you.