WEEKLY CHECK-IN PROMPTS AND GOAL REVIEW
Ideally, every Monday morning I open up my planner and do a little review. Sometimes this exercise is beyond my energy capacity, but I try not to ruminate on those days or weeks when it remains incomplete. This exercise has become important to my routine, and invaluable to my personal growth. It is an easy way to integrate goal review into my weekly routine, and check-in with my feelings and capacity. It also gives me a chance to prioritize rest and recovery. I want to share my prompts with you and explore why I complete this activity, in hopes that it offers inspiration or a starting point for you to integrate this practice into your weekly routine as well.
WHY DO I COMPLETE A WEEKLY CHECK-IN
There are loads of reasons why we “should” check-in on our goals, but here are my personal reasons for completing a weekly check-in in this manner.
- Because it allows me to review my goals and action items, and recalibrate as needed
- Because it helps me process my feelings about my schedule
- Because I value the structure and routine it provides
- Because it helps me to purposely incorporate rest into my week, which is core value that is sometimes difficult for me to attain
- Because I enjoy the quiet reflection time
- Because it feels good in my brain
Your reasons will probably look different from mine, but I hope you allow some softness and forgiveness into your check in as well.
BUILDING THE CHECKLIST
When I decided to try this format for my Monday journaling routine, I went looking for ideas. The winner jumped out at me on Pinterest of all places. It was very productivity-focused which is not one of my values, and kind of missed the mark on how I envisioned this unfolding. But it was a good start, so I printed it off. After the first few rounds, I could see what was working and what wasn’t. I started tweaking some questions, and filling in the holes with statements that more aligned with my values and goals for the year.
After many rounds of edits – sometimes as small as one word – I landed on a checklist that works for 90% of my weeks. Or at the very least, gives me a chance to pause for a moment and look at the bigger picture before moving on to the next task.
COMPLETING THE WEEKLY REVIEW
I had a dedicated journal for this, and I filled it up. So we’ve moved on to another one, but it’s only sort of working out. Isn’t it funny how that makes such a difference? But perfect is the enemy of good and the enemy of complete so I am trying to get comfortable with grabbing whatever paper is laying around. It’s interesting to read through previous week’s reviews, but that’s not the primary goal of this exercise. The main goal of the checklist is actually the first thing on the list: get things out of my head and on to paper.
And this might not even be “on paper” for you. I work best when I am able to write things down, but it would be just as easy to create an online document or note in your phone to review your check-in prompts on a schedule that makes sense for you. I formatted the list to the same size as my planner, and printed them on a sheet of purple paper so the sheet lives in my planner binder. Once I complete it, I move it to the next week in my binder. It’s presence serves as its own reminder.
HOW DO I REVIEW MY GOALS
You’ll notice there isn’t a specific prompt to “Review Goals”. Because that is too huge, too general. And terrifying, to be honest. One of the reasons I love the weekly review prompts in this format is because it breaks things down into bite-sized chunks. Teeny, easily digestible morsels. So whether you realise it or not, you are evaluating a goal (or an action item) with each response. My word of the year usually guides my goal-setting, and this year was no different. Although my goals have been hard to measure, which can make them hard to evaluate. The prompts guide me toward those feelings and I can adjust or create any actions that might move me forward if I feel stuck. What makes these weekly review prompts so great is that even if you don’t have big, specific goals, you can still do some personal reflection.
As I am always telling my Accountability Club, if a goal or action isn’t working for you, be honest and either change it or get rid of it. There is no harm in that. In fact it makes zero sense to keep pushing something that’s not working right now. Any kind of reflection works for this, it doesn’t have to be weekly. Find what works for you! Accountability Club meets online together once a month, and for many of the participants this timing works well for reflection and a reset.
CHECK IN PROMPTS IN FLUX
These check-in prompts are not carved in stone. Thank goodness! They can and will change as I change what and how I want to review my goals or commitments. In fact, I think a change is coming soon. While sorting through some items leftover from my previous job, I found two sticky notes. The questions I wrote on there used to be my quick version of a check-in. They still resonate with me, so I will be finding a way to incorporate these notes in my current weekly check-in prompts. They are very feelings based, which I think there needs to be more space for when evaluating goals.
SLOW DOWN AND SOFTEN UP
I try to push back against mainstream messages of productivity where I can, and I found this post starting to go there. So let me clarify. This is just a tool that I use to help me slow down and take notice of what I am doing.
What did I learn about myself, what did I notice this week about my life, about myself. What made me happy or sad, and why. What is something that I am proud of. Rather than the capitalist focus on productivity and self-development, personal growth and individualism, my weekly check-ins serve to ground my being in the slow ways of personal empathy and community-mindedness. They help me integrate new ways of knowing and process new ways of being that I have been exposed to. As a reflection tool, the questions change based on my growth and new knowledge. Completing the check-in helps me continuously build a better check in system for myself, my values, and my goals.
We move through our lives so quickly, rarely stopping to appreciate the changes that we have made. Or acknowledge the changes that were made without our control. My weekly check-in allows me to work within the framework of my mental illness and get shit done. But it also gives me the opportunity to be kind to myself, and better understand my patterns.
HERE ARE THE PROMPTS
Y’all here is what I’m sure you have all been waiting for. The actual prompts! Again, I welcome you to approach this with an open heart and mind, and adjust the prompts to comfort and challenge you in balance.
- Get things out of my head and on to paper
- Collect any relevant notes laying around
- Process into the right places
Reflect on the previous week
- Did I get everything done? If no, why not?
- What needs to get moved to this week’s to-dos and what can get scrapped completely?
- How are my daily routines and habits going?
- What brought me JOY this week?
- Where did my WORD show up?
Review next week
- What commitments do I have?
- What preparation do I need to do?
- How much (realistically) can I do in a day?
- Add in actions related to my goals and tasks
- Block off time I need to rest
Review the week after next
- What events are in there, and
- Do I need to do anything about them this week?
Review goals and projects
- Do they have clear next action points to work on?
- Edit out impossible things and things I’ve let go of
- Add anything new that has come up
Check in with Accountability Club.
Do something to celebrate how good this feels.
FURTHER READING AND RESOURCES
Speaking of goals, here are 5 Waste Reduction Resolutions You Should Make Even Though They Won’t Solve the Climate Crisis.