Last week my wife, Riv, and I had our 17th wedding anniversary. One of our gifts to each other is a box in which to keep our ticket stubs, receipts, mementos and little reminders of the coming year. Next year, on our anniversary, we’ll open the box and review the way we spent our time. Having these reminders will help us “take stock,” slow down and review our life events. It helps us to appreciate what we’ve accomplished and increase our personal satisfaction with our life’s progress.

For managers, business owners, leaders of any kind, I suggest doing something like this, but on a daily basis. My inspiration comes from “From Values to Action, The Four Principles of Values-Based Leadership” by Harry M. Kraemer. One of the principles Harry mentions that help us know ourselves better is “Self Reflection.”

One practice of self reflection that Harry practices is at the end of each day he asks himself: “What did I say I was going to do today, and what did I actually do? If what I did was different from what I planned, what were the reasons? What went well, and what did not? How did I treat people? Am I proud of the way I lived this day? If I had the day to live over again, what would I do differently? And finally, “What did I learn today that will have an impact on how I live the next day, the next week, and going forward?”

I’ve been using this practice for the last few days and find it valuable. Of course you can add or change the questions you ask any time. You can do this in a journal or just in a moment of silence. It can be a private or a shared ritual, but it seems like a good practice to create. My thinking is that we get so wrapped up in routine, keeping up, juggling tasks, that we forget to look around and make sure that we’re doing things that will lead to a meaningful and satisfying life.

Having a meaningful and satisfying life: that’s a pretty good goal for a simple exercise, isn’t it?

Good luck to us all: Thanks for reading.

James