Clever Cactus Monthly Review - 5 Benefits to doing one

5 benefits to doing a Monthly Review

It’s a new month! For me, that means just one thing – it’s time for my Monthly Review. This is when I check back in on my annual review and goals to see where I’m at, and figure out what I need to do to keep moving forward towards success.

So what exactly is a monthly review?

Monthly reviews are a lot like annual reviews, only on a smaller scale. To be exact, they cover four (maybe five) weeks instead of 52. Like all reviews, this is a set time during which I review the previous month, and look over all my weeks, habits, goals and, well, everything. Then, I prepare for the next month.

It’s a valuable practice in many ways.

Today, I’m diving into why I’ve made these reviews part of the Clever Cactus goal-achieving system. I’m writing up A Clever Cactus Guide to Monthly Reviews – that’ll be posted tomorrow (hopefully).

Here are five reasons why I believe monthly reviews are essential, not just for helping us achieve our goals, but also for our overall happiness!

#1 Celebrate your hard work & accomplishments

Before I started doing monthly reviews, I often felt like I had accomplished very little each month. Week by week, I’d work on building my business. Week by week, I’d feel like I was flailing about in the dark. Then, I started taking the time to review my progress every month.

Let me tell you, it made a world of difference!

It’s easy to forget what you’ve accomplished when you’re always focussed on everything you still need to do. Doubly so when you don’t have a system in place to monitor and track your work. Monthly reviews are a set time every month to check in on your progress, no matter how big or small. You can see exactly what you’ve done, which steps you’ve taken, and how far you’ve come in your annual plan.

Monthly reviews as your chance to congratulate yourself for all your hard work.

“Your decisions about allocating your personal time, energy, and talent ultimately shape your life’s strategy.”

Clay Christensen, author of How Will You Measure Your Life?

#2 See (exactly) how you spend your time

What’s that saying? The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. (“To a Mouse”, a poem by Robert Burns). Most plans, no matter how well made, researched or scheduled, will go awry.

In order to continue moving forward, it’s important that we make sure we’re spending our time wisely. When you sit down and review what you’ve done, you’ll see how, exactly, you spend your time.

In fact, during this month’s monthly review, I discovered that I spend too much time updating schedules. Now, I’ve planned to only update my schedules during monthly reviews. The time I spent adjusting my schedules will now be spent working on my goals!

Monthly reviews show us how we spend our time, and give us the chance to adjust for the coming month.

They set us up for success in the best way possible.

#3 Find out what habits you’re (actually) building

Are you trying to drink more water? Follow a daily exercise regime? Write every day? There are lots of great habits we can start.

Question is: are they sticking?

Monthly reviews let you see if you’re keeping your habits. You’ll be able to spot patterns for when you do The Thing and when you don’t.

In fact, through my monthly reviews, I found very distinct pattern:
  • For the first week, I maintain my habits. I do my yoga. I write. I drink the water. I do the sleeping thing.
  • About 10 days in, things start getting dodgy. I’ll do yoga two, maybe three, times a week. I’ll write every other day. I’ll sleep in or go to bed late.
  • Until finally, by the last week, I’m not doing anything!

Seeing it laid out for me, I knew I needed to change. So, I developed strategies to fix this. And, during the next month’s review, I can see if it worked!

#4 Remember the happy things

Months can feel like forever. Especially in the time warp that was 2020, and now 2021. It’s very easy to forget the good and focus only on the bad. (There’s a scientific reason for this! Read more in this Washington Post article.)

Monthly reviews are a chance to actively remember all the great things that happened.

In fact, the Clever Cactus planner’s “Smiles & Thoughts” section is designed to help us remember the good! I fill this out throughout the month, whenever something makes me smile or think. Then, at the end of the month, I read through it all and remember the good.

Reflecting on the month and filling your review with good memories helps develop positive thinking. This, in turn, makes it easier to see and remember the good. It’s like exercising a good-thoughts muscle. Monthly reviews strengthen that muscle.

The more time you spend remembering the good, the easier it gets.

“Don’t watch the clock; do what it does. Keep going.”

Sam Levenson

#5 Stay motivated & focussed all month long

It’s really easy to get caught up in the big picture and forget the brush strokes that’ll get you there. Sure, we need to know what the whole thing will look like when it’s done, but if we’re always looking at the big picture, we’re not paying attention to where we’re putting the paint!

That’s why I save big-picture check-ins for my monthly review.

Monthly reviews are a chance to review my annual review and goals. Then, I figure out where I need to focus my attention. I plan and map out my steps, set myself some smaller, more specific monthly goals, and zoom back in. Then, I spend the month focussed on completing steps and checking off tasks.

I don’t need to zoom back out again until the end of the month.

I’ve been doing monthly reviews long enough that I trust first-of-the-month Lisa to have planned out what needs doing. This means I’m more focussed and motivated all month. I know that, when I’m done the tasks and steps I’ve laid out for myself, I’ll be much closer to accomplishing my goals.

And that is a great feeling.

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