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“The real trick in life is to turn hindsight into foresight that reveals insight.” ~ Robin Sharma

I find so much wisdom in those words. There is nothing like hindsight – the past – to teach us valuable life lessons and help us improve our present and ultimately our future. This is why a major component of The DREAM DO LEARN system® – a system I created over the years to keep me laser focused on my goals and heading in the direction of my dreams – is learning. If we don’t learn lessons, we will keep making the same mistakes, falling into the same pits we always fall into and just go round in circles.

So how can we stop going round in circles and making the same mistakes?

Taking time out to reflect and review

If your remedy to achieve your goals after not quite getting the results you were after is to grit your teeth and try harder and faster, then maybe it’s time to press the pause button and take a little time out to learn some lessons before forging ahead at full speed. I promise, it will be time well spent!

So how can you apply the principle of learning lessons to your life?

In my Born to Flourish® planner-journal, it begins with the LEARN section (followed by DREAM and then DO) because it’s key to learn those all-important lessons before you set off on the next leg of your journey, so that you can avoid the mistakes you made previously.

To learn lessons in your own life, you can simply set aside some time and grab a notebook and pen – or use my Born to Flourish® planner-journal which is a hybrid planner-journal that covers a 12-month period (undated) that you can start at any time of the year – preferably the beginning of the month. The LEARN section will take you through a review of the last 12 months – the ups, the downs and everything in between. You get to look at each life area and note down your lessons learned in each. The whole point of the LEARN exercise is to take some time to look back at the last leg of your journey and reflect on how it went – whether you veered off track and why, and how you can change that in the future.

If you’re not using my Born to Flourish® planner-journal, you can simply make some notes in your own journal or a notebook – or on your laptop / tablet – wherever you please!
Some prompts for your very own lessons learned exercise

Here are ten questions you can use to ask yourself to get the juices flowing as you go through your lessons learned exercise. The period you’re looking back on depends on your own preferences – it could be the last 12 months or the last 5 years or beyond.

“On a scale of 1-10 how did the last [12 months] go in comparison to the intentions I set?”

“What were the highlights of the [last 12 months]?”

“What were the lowlights?”

“How could I have done things differently?”

“Was I the person I needed to BE to reach my goals? If not, why not?”

“Which life areas did I excel in and which did I neglect? How can I change this going forward?”

“What are the top ten lessons I’ve learned over the last [12 months]?”

“How can I apply each of these lessons to my life going forward?”

“What could I have done more of in the last [12 months]?”

“What could I have done less of in the last [12 months]?

Those are just a few questions to get you thinking and reflecting. Pondering over these questions may well prompt you to ask yourself other questions that aren’t listed here but are important to you and your individual circumstances.

Observe yourself as an outsider

I sometimes like to look at myself and my life as an observer sometimes, it’s so much easier to see things objectively. It’s easy to give someone else advice because we’re an outsider looking in and can remove all the emotion involved. It’s a great idea to do this for ourselves – look at yourself and your lessons learned as an outsider would. This is also because outsiders are often much kinder than we are to ourselves! We look for all the bad things and forget the good. So, try to be objective, like an outsider would, when reflecting on lessons learned from the past.

Remember to learn from the good

Equally, don’t beat yourself up for mistakes you may have made, this is not the point of the learning lessons exercise – the point is to look at these errors and ask yourself how they might have happened and how you might avoid this in the future so that it doesn’t happen again. And remember – it’s not just about looking for the negatives to learn from, but also the positives. What successes did you experience? What made you succeed? How can you build on that going forward to experience more success? How can you translate what you did into other areas of your life that you might be struggling in?

Businesses learn lessons and so can we

Businesses often carry out lessons learned exercises and whilst I witnessed this in companies I worked in, I did think to myself this would be so helpful if we, as individuals, applied this to our own lives too. Instead, many of us just plan out what we want to achieve, then take action, and then evaluate our results, maybe readjust the plan, and keep taking action, without properly taking out the time to reflect and review the actions we took and then adjust the plan accordingly. Reviewing and learning is often seen as a waste of time and not really necessary but you really can’t afford not to learn lessons from the past to improve the future!

Learning lessons is a regular activity

And it’s not just once a year you should be learning lessons. I carry out a review on a daily basis, as this is built into my Born to Flourish® planner-journal which I use myself every day to keep me focused and on track with my dreams and goals. Every morning I set intentions for the day and every evening I review my day to see whether I followed through on my intentions and if not, why not. It’s just a short paragraph but it’s really helpful for me to nip any issues in the bud straight away and adjust things for the next day, rather than wait for a December 31st review only to find I’ve veered so far off track I have no idea how to get back on track! As with the daily review, I also do a weekly, monthly and quarterly review (also in my planner-journal), so I am always reviewing my progress, learning lessons and adjusting course as I need to.

Are you ready to learn some lessons?

If the answer’s yes, then get into the habit of taking just a little time out every day to reflect on and learn from your day. If you’d like an easy system to help you do that regularly, then have a look at my Born to Flourish® planner-journal which is designed to help you learn lessons where you need to as you journey towards flourishing and being all you were destined to be!