As we talk about reviewing our year, let’s talk a bit about a shorter kind of review: the Weekly Review. It’s a miniature version of the yearly review.

If I had to choose one most important skill in forming habits, I’d choose “evolving your habit plan,” and the tool for evolving your habit plan is the Weekly Review.

Think of it this way: when you create your habit plan in the beginning of a habit change, it’s based on your idea of how things should go. But when the plan meets reality, and there are inevitably unplanned obstacles that come up … do we just abandon the plan and call our habit change a failure?

No, it’s better to adjust the plan and try a new iteration of the habit change. Find a solution to the obstacle, add it to the plan. This is how we evolve the plan, and get better at creating habits.

Here are the key steps in evolving the plan:

  1. Create a plan.
  2. Execute it.
  3. See whether it passes the test: did you follow the plan? If not, note the obstacles.
  4. Adjust if needed: find solutions to obstacles.

The Weekly Review is the last two steps. If you make it a point to do the review, you’re going to get better at the habit … and at creating habits in general.

The Weekly Review

At this point, you have already done a couple of reviews (I hope). I wanted you to do them without instructions, so you could try to figure out how to do them before I give you my recommendations.

But here are my recommendations:

  1. At the end of every week, make it absolutely mandatory that you do a review. Not negotiable. The habit change depends on it.
  2. First, ask yourself how you did. How many days did you do the habit?
  3. If you didn’t miss a day, celebrate! That doesn’t mean your plan is perfect (other obstacles might still come up), but you’re doing great.
  4. If you missed a day or more, figure out why. Was there a visitor, a trip, a project, an illness, a crisis, a party, distractions, bad feelings? Write your obstacles onto your habit plan.
  5. Find a potential solution for each obstacle. I’ve listed some solutions in the articles so far, so look through those. Do a search online. Ask on the forums. Find other people who do the habit you’re trying to form and ask them. It doesn’t matter what solution you try — just pick one, and add it to the plan. (If it doesn’t work, you can try another.)

That’s it. Review how you did, list the obstacles, list a solution for each obstacle.

Then try the new, adjusted plan. If it doesn’t work, do the review again, adjust again. Try the new plan. And so on, until you find a winning recipe that works for you.

If you do this process, you can’t fail. You’ll be learning about changing habits, and yourself, each week. You’ll get better and better.

So this is the key skill: make the Weekly Review mandatory!

If you have to, get some accountability and set up a consequence for missing the review. Do whatever it takes, but do the review!