Writing an year end reflection with an accountable approach

As William Barclay said: “There are two great days in a person’s life: the day you were born and the day you discover why.” As an educator, I always get to ask “why” first, in most of the time before getting the echo of “why not” from my students. However, for today, it is my favorite time to ask “why” personally, as a form of reflection to oneself before a year comes to an end.

From the past, I always focus on goals and the ways I reviewed myself were liking to the act of ticking a to-do list that has a chained of goals before any new year resolution was drawn. I did hit most of my goals while missing some; most people shared about the same experience.

However, in mid-2015, I have learned something new while attending to one of the John Maxwell’s lectures in Leading Change through The Laws of Growth. To quote from the pile of gold nuggets that we have received on that day, John said:

“If you focus on goals, you may hit goals – but that doesn’t guarantee growth.”

“If you focus on growth, you will grow and always hit goals.”

I took the advice to heart and act upon it. For the last few days after Christmas, I have been printing out all the events and appointments that captured in my Google & Outlook Calendar. Then, I spent the hours to review each of the items and the things I have done and partake. It only took me a while to realize that how much I have forgotten about the things I had been through, and for all the goals that I have missed or met, it all correlated with the amount of time that I allocated to grow myself in a particular area! This was the most powerful exercise that I ever had, and I begin to discover there is a time for everything.

To better explained the patterns that I have observed about myself, I shall take a leaf from the time-zone-concept that I learned from Living the Dream, by Corwin Hiebert. As a start, I begin to classify and sort out all the calendar events that I have reviewed with an Excel spreadsheet. Then, I have segregated them into the following 7 categories with hourly unit:

Segmentation of Time

It is true that life is only being fair in this context: each of us is given 8760 hours every year. No matter you are rich, poor, healthy or sick, this is the amount of time that you can get either better or worse. By deducing the average hours that I have spent on eating, sleeping, moving, etc., I have classified all my calendar events in 2015 under the heading of “accounted-hours.”

Donut Chart for tracking your time spent pattern

The referred accounted-hours are the time that I have chosen to spend intentionally, and it amounted to 705 hours in total. It is only through such analytical approach, I am in awe and feeling embarrass to realize that there were about 1582 hours or 65.92 days, which I did not account for! So where have those hours gone? I am guilty of watching movies, news reading via a mobile device, reading novel and stories, playing my video games while additionally helping my wife to beat some of her Candy Crush and Pet Rescue, etc.

Among all the hours that I am accounted for, I have spent many good hours meeting and servicing other people. I identified such social time that I devoted to others as the They-time.

They-time devotion

For instance, I have made an effort to fly back to Penang and visit my parents as much as I can. Secondly, I have volunteered my time for the well-being of others too. Along the way, I have also spent a considerable amount of time catching up with friends and meeting new people. Indirectly, I am happy for reaching one of my goals in 2015, which it is to broaden my social network.

Pattern of my Learning Time

To grow is to take on a new thing you learned today, and built upon what you acquired yesterday without delay. There is no other way round for not to be a life-long learner if you want to grow and always hit goals. Thus, I have a series of dedicated Learning-time for myself. It is important in honing your skills, as skill is the new currency. As a lecturer, I would not teach something without learning it twice. In 2015, I spent nearly 35% of my Learning-time to beef up my domain knowledge in human-centered design. I have also made an effort to learn about entrepreneurship and practice it. To friends that know me, I am transiting away from the game development gigs. Nevertheless, I still spent some time to continue learning the craft. The only thing that I felt dismayed is that I did not allocate enough time in art-making. It has been a long time since I updated my sketchbook and YouTube channel.

As Henri Arnold said, “The wise man questions himself, the fool others.” It is crucial to have a system or method when reviewing your own monkey acts. With an objective view about my time-spending patterns, I shall be more efficient in customizing my new goals and resolutions that can grow me. In fact, my new year resolution for 2016 is simply about being “accountable”, minimizing waste with the lean approach for maximizing my Build-time & Prime-time. I hope the technique that I have shared here is useful to you.

Now it is your turn. What’s your story in 2015? It is never too late to write one and reflect upon yourself 🙂

Happy New Year.

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