There’s definitely something to be said for living in the present moment.
The here and now is truly the only moment we have control over. We can’t change the past by ruminating, and we can’t change the future by worrying.
That being said, there is definitely value of looking at the past and the future with an assessing and planning eye.
Tool for Using Feedback to Improve Performance
During my second summer as a West Point cadet, I was at a delightful little place in the Catskill Mountains called Camp Buckner.
Sounds like a nice hideaway retreat, doesn’t it?
But it’s where we go to learn infantry tactics, water survival, land navigation, etc. (It IS truly beautiful though….)
Anyhow, one day my squad and I were out in the woods practicing a little thing called “reacting to enemy contact,” and we did ok. Not great, but ok.
We definitely needed more practice.
But before we regrouped and got back at it, we did an After Action Review (AAR).
The After Action Review (AAR) Process
How it works is you look at what you had planned on accomplishing, then look at what went well…and what didn’t. We call it “3 ups & 3 downs,” because 3 things can often be enough to give you a pretty good picture of what’s going on.
Then you take a look at what you’re going to do the same, and what you’ll do differently the next go around. It’s all about maximizing the great, and minimizing the not-so-great.
Besides being a nice little break time in the summer heat during that summer of training, the AARs really did make things a whole lot easier. It makes sense, right? Instead of just continuing on and spinning your wheels making the same mistakes, reviewing your actions lets you move forward with renewed focus, make more progress (faster!), and find a way to overcome the challenges you discovered along the way.
By objectively reviewing where you are and what results you’re producing, moving forward gets a whole heck of a lot easier.
When to Do an After Action Review (AAR)
So it’s the beginning of a New Year!
And before we jump right into all the wonderful-ness it’s going to bring, I invite you to do a little AAR on 2019.
You can do it for the whole year, for the last quarter, for the last month, for the last week….
And you don’t have to just do this at the start of the new year. This season of new beginnings is a great time to look back at the entire year, BUT, I like to AAR how things are going on a monthly and weekly basis. (When I do them monthly and weekly, they’re normally a shorter process – if you do them regularly, you’ll find that you might only need minor course corrections.)
Even if you don’t want to do them on a regular basis, I absolutely recommend doing them after you finish any big project. You’d better believe I’m going to be doing one at the end of the month after we wrap up the Dream Achiever Summit (stay tuned for more details about that)!
Want to See How I Do It?
Until next time, Happy Reviewing!
Here’s a FREE workbook I created to help you do your own After Action Review. It’s called the Review & Renew Workbook, and it’s a step-by-step guide to help you look at goals different aspects of your life. And it’s a fillable PDF, so you can do it all on your computer. 🙂
InseWant to make next year better? Start by figuring out what's already working. Get your FREE Review & Renew Workbook here! (no opt-in required)
Jewell “Feedback is Our Friend” Siebert