When the Dust Settles

After you finish a big project or complete a special activity, it is helpful to take a minute — before you forget all about it — and think about how things went. We tend to move on to the next thing, but then we lose out on what we learned. Just a few minutes and a few notes will make the next go-round that much better.

Michael Hyatt teaches this as the KISS method in his podcast:

Then the third question: “What will you keep, improve, start, or stop doing?” We think of that as the KISS method. …We use it to mean “What will you keep? What will you improve? What will you start? What will you stop doing?” …The process is vital because it ensures that you learn from what took place before, good or bad, so you don’t repeat your mistakes and so you continue to replicate your successes.

What worked so well you want to be sure to do it again? These are your wins. Celebrate and make sure they keep happening that way.

If I could only have one dedicated bag, it would be my beach bag. Every beach trip, I am thankful I only have to pop the one bag into the truck. Everything is in it: suit, sunscreen, hat, sunglasses, paperback beach novel, towel, etc. I’m set.

What was adequate but could be better? Maybe you were trying to fill a need, but what you had didn’t quite make it. You may not have been able to do anything about it on the fly, but you can prepare to do better next time.

On our last camper road trip, we came back with several ideas. One was that the stick vacuum was great to have along, but it needed to be securely hung in the broom closet. Tripping over it or having it fall out when we opened the door was no fun.

What was missing? There was a need, a hole in the plans. Brainstorm ways you could possibly fix that when you tackle this (or something like it) again. Then you can pick one that looks the most promising and give it a shot.

During an intense season of outside work, we were in an odd cycle: office work day until mid-afternoon, tackle major projects, come home after dark and gather something to eat before we collapsed. This wasn’t healthy or much fun, so we tried something new: eating breakfast early, as normal, then a good dinner mid-afternoon before heading out, and a small snack after working. It was appropriate for that time.

What totally didn’t work? Everyone disliked it, and you don’t want to go down that road again. Make a note, before you forget and beat your head against the brick wall again.

We had a can of asparagus in the pantry from the beginning of the pandemic. After serving it for dinner, it was so unappetizing we decided we would rather go without vegetables than have it again. Fresh only from now on.

A few minutes of review and planning will save so much time and energy later.

Consider: “Don’t Overthink It”

In Don’t Overthink It, Anne Bogel addresses a mental cycle to which many of us can relate. The book discusses how to take control of our minds and stop wasting mental energy on stuff that doesn’t need or deserve it. The broad principle is that “living well depends upon thinking well — about the things that matter.”

Here is a brief excerpt on values and decisions:

Ally explained that her decisions today flowed naturally out of her core values — values she had decided would guide her future decision-making…

Because Ally has this big-picture value firmly in place and consciously relies on it when making decisions, she doesn’t agonize about how to spend her time, money, and energy. …In the same way, when we have a broader vision for our lives, many of the decisions we face become simple, because we have a reliable framework for making them. Because we made a single decision — that is, deciding on a big-picture value — we can see all other decisions as parts of a whole instead of as an endless string of isolated decisions. When a decision touches on our values, we have little to think about. With our internal world in order we can move outward in the right direction. These values can guide our lives in the big pieces and the day-to-day stuff. Whether we’re going to Thailand or the grocery store, what we do can flow naturally out of who we are.


These books are set here as possibilities for you to explore. Posts and links are not endorsements or paid publicity.