Since a lot of self improvement techniques are based on planning and goal setting, they tend to focus most of the times exclusively on the future. The process of reviewing our changes and our achievements is something that is often overlooked. Still, many changes in ourselves and our lives happen in fact silently, organically and spontaneously. Today on Suggestion Strategies, I present a couple of exercises to effectively compare the present version of ourselves to our “older self”.
Activity comparison. This simple technique is a basic tool to define why and how our day-to-day routine is different from 1 year ago. Take an ordinary weekday, just like today. Write down in a time-based table all the activities you’ll be involved in. Try to stick to your actual times as much as possible, so you’ll have a precise overview of your day in front of you. Make sure to include leisure activities and define in detail what you’ll do in your spare time. Once you’re done, look back to a random weekday about 12 months ago and do the same exercise. How did you spend your day back then? What did you do in detail? What was your main occupation, how much time were you spending with friends, how was your daily routine? Write down all that in another time-based table.
Now that you have both tables in front of you, compare your past and present activities as well as the lifestyle that results from them. What is different? What has changed for you? Are you happy of every change you made? In other words, are you moving forward? Answer these questions honestly and you’ll have an idea about the main aspects of your life that still have to be improved.
Goals comparison. Now it’s time to focus specifically on goals. Which big goals are you chasing today, and which goals did you have 1 year ago? I suggest you start looking back at the same random weekday of 12 months ago. Think back at your daily routine. This time, pay attention to what were your thoughts back then. What were you after one year ago? Were you looking for personal goals, material goals, spiritual goals? Write down a list of the 5 most important goals that were consistently on our mind one year ago. They must be the 5 most relevant ones that you wanted to achieve. Next to each goal, write down a sample of 2-3 concrete actions that you did back then in order to get closer to the goal.
And now, let’s do the same exercise as of today. It should be easier to make a list of present goals, since hopefully you’re working to achieve them (almost) on a daily basis. Once you’re done, let’s compare the two lists again. What are the differences here? Did your goals and your priorities switch? In some cases, especially at the beginning of a self improvement journey, the changes within a year can be pretty dramatic. The important thing to notice here, is how much we naturally change and how much we naturally evolve. Every switch on our goals is a symptom of personal growth, since we as human beings can only move forward.
If you like, consider doing the same exercise comparing the “You” of today with the you of 5 years ago. There you’ll really see an astonishing change. After you made these exercises, maybe you’ll consider the planning for the future from a different angle. Change, as you clearly see, is a constant element in the human life. I don’t think we can really “create” change, nor can we stop it. We can only direct the change to make it more effective and powerful, and that’s where our planning for the future should really aim. Good luck, and (planning aside) remember to enjoy the present moment!