Balancing Achievements and Experiences

In Conscious Growth Club, we’re going through our usual quarterly planning process now. This is a five-step process that we go through four times each year as we set goals for each new quarter. It starts by reviewing the previous quarter and seeing how we did, relative to the goals we set three months prior.

One of my favorite parts of this process is reviewing the previous quarter and noting what actually got done. When I was younger, this type of review would often serve as a wake-up call regarding all the things I didn’t get done. These days it’s a nice way to remember the previous three months. In the past I focused more on achievements. Now I strive for better balance between achievements and experiences.

Instead of just listing accomplishments when I begin this review process, I like to list experiences too. This helps me recall me how I actually spent my time and what value I gained from it.

For instance, here are some items from my list for Q1 2020:

  • Went to Panama with TLC, emcee’d the first day of TLC (went very well), and saw the Panama Canal
  • Had to lock down and stay at home starting in March due to coronavirus
  • Bought a Nintendo Switch and finished Zelda: Link’s Awakening with Rachelle
  • Joined the Ignite Video Challenge and created and shared 17 videos for it
  • Watched the first season of Star Trek: Picard
  • Did my first YouTube live premiere (for the Stature launch video)
  • Continued guitar lessons and started learning “Personal Jesus” by Depeche Mode
  • Finished reading Albert Schweitzer’s bio (a long book and a long journey)
  • Bought a new Apple 32” Pro Display XDR monitor and stand (my nicest monitor ever)

These may not be considered accomplishments per se, but I like to record them to remind me of some things I experienced during the quarter. When I view these in the context of other goals accomplished, such as launching the new Stature course and publishing the first 60 lessons for it, it helps me get a more rounded picture of the quarter.

In the past I would over-focus on achievements, and if I didn’t have enough of those in a quarter, I felt like I’d slacked off and should push harder the next quarter. But now I like to consider achievements in balance with experiences.

Playing through the Zelda game with Rachelle was a fun and playful experience that we both enjoyed. Reading Albert Schweitzer’s bio was something I whittled away at in the evenings before bed, often occupying my thoughts as I went to sleep. Buying the new monitor was an interesting stretch purchase since it’s the priciest monitor I ever bought, and I visited it in the store a few times before finally taking it home. These are all experiences I was glad to have this quarter.

Creating a more thorough list also helps me recall some things I had to deal with during the quarter, which could explain why I did or didn’t achieve the goals I had set. Obviously the coronavirus situation changes the game plan for many of us.

When I see the Panama trip on the list, I remember the dozens of bug bites that Rachelle and I left with. Even two months later, we’re both still recovering from those bites. The bugs there are vicious towards vegans.

Every quarter I create a new list of achievements and experiences, and I’ve been doing this for years, so I can skim through these lists to remember the highlights of those periods.

In a way this is similar to time logging. But instead of logging my days, I’m logging my quarters on a more macro scale. This gives me an interesting viewport into where my time is going over the span of a quarter. On that scale I don’t really care where each hour or even each day went. But it’s good to get a bird’s eye view of how I lived during that three-month period of my life.

This is turn helps me make better decisions for what I’d like to accomplish and experience in future quarters. It especially reminds me to include some experiential pursuits just because I enjoy them – seeing shows or concerts, taking trips, and having fun with friends.

One lesson I’ve learned in particular is that I feel best about a quarter when it’s nicely balanced, meaning that I didn’t just work, work, work all the time. I actually feel sad for a quarter that looks like it was too much work, even if I accomplished a lot. I like seeing quarters that include lots of experiential richness, especially because they give me the gift of better memories afterwards. I especially like looking back on a quarter and thinking, I really packed a lot of fun into those three months.

The coronavirus situation seems to be making me even more appreciative of all the wonderful experiences that can be had again when this passes. I look forward to the time I can feel aligned with traveling or even just going out to run errands nearby.

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Read Balancing Achievements and Experiences by Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina

Steve Pavlina is an American self-help author, motivational speaker and entrepreneur. He is the author of the web site and the book Personal Development for Smart People.

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