Episode 293: Mid-Year Check In with Rob Shallenberger

Episode Summary

As we approach the end of 2021, the idea of just tossing the towel and being a little careless for the rest of the year and start focusing our energies on 2022 might sound tempting. But actually, with a bit of recalibration, a slight course correction, we can achieve each and every one of the goals we set for ourselves back in January 2021. That is the primary purpose of today’s podcast, a reminder that there is still so much that can be done in the next four months. 

Rob Shallenberger: Alright, well, good morning, good afternoon to all of our friends, wherever you are in the world. This is your host, Rob Shallenberger, and I hope you’re having a great day. The whole intent in this podcast – you saw the title, Mid-Year Check In – this is designed to be one of those motivating podcasts where it’s a recalibration. It’s a refocus on what matters most. And the hope is if you’ll just take a few minutes and listen to this, and then if you have family or friends or team members who you would like to share it with, this is just simply that refocus-type podcast where we leave motivated and saying, “Wait a second! You know, rather than just tossing the towel for the rest of the year and restart in 2022, there’s still so much that can be done in the remaining months that we have.” And so, again, rather than just tossing the towel and saying, “Well, we’ll restart” – instead, let’s refocus, let’s shift our time and attention to really what matters most.  

Now, before we jump into the mid-year check in, just a brief announcement. For those who have not downloaded the pre-week planning extension, we are so excited to announce that it is now available. And this has been in the works for a long time, a lot of people have been asking for it. If you’ve already downloaded it and are using it, you know what an awesome tool it is. Right now, we’re starting with Google and Outlook. So, you download it on Google or Outlook, and then, of course, once this stuff is in your calendar, it will sync across calendars. But we’re starting with Google and Outlook, and then, hopefully, we will expand to Safari and other things like that. For those who would like to get the app – the extension, if you will – go to Now, just to clarify, this is for your home computer. There is not enough real estate on a phone to create an app where you can do pre-week planning on the phone; you actually need either a laptop or a home computer. And that’s why it’s an extension, not your typical phone app, if you will. A couple of things: for those who are going to do this and actually use the extension: if you have a separate work email from your personal Gmail account, use the account that is tied to the actual Gmail account. In other words, don’t try to use your work email in your personal Gmail account when you’re downloading the extension, or it won’t recognize that. You need to use the account that is associated with your actual email and Chrome account, if you will. And that’s how it will work. And then, of course, once you have it in your calendar, it will sync across all of your different calendars. I’m talking about just purchasing the extension. So, make sure you use the correct email to do that. You’re gonna love it. It’s awesome. I’ve been using it now for several months and it’s so nice to have your vision, your goals, and be able to have the template for pre-week planning all in one place.  

So with that being said, let’s jump into the mid-year check in. Now, why are we even here? You know, why are you listening to this today? You saw the title and you’re still listening to the podcast. So the question is why? And I honor you for doing that, for making that decision to listen today because this is the whole spirit of good, better best, regardless of where we’re at this year. Maybe it hasn’t been good, maybe it’s good. Maybe it’s even great. But in that spirit, how do we finish out these next few months strong and make them even better, rather than just the proverbial throwing in the towel? So that’s why we’re here. We’re here to refocus on what matters most for the remaining months of this year.  

And I want to share with you two brief stories about why I believe that this check in is so important. So, about four years ago, we moved homes. And when we moved, we were moving into a home that had a little bit more space, a little bit more land and property, and we were excited about that move. It was almost exactly four years ago. Now, prior to that, in our old home, I used to have my vision and goals printed on a piece of paper and they sat next to my desk in my office. Well, when I moved, somehow that paper got lost, and I couldn’t find it. Now, we all know I could have easily printed out a new one and put it on my desk but I didn’t do that. And, of course, all of this would be a completely moot point because now it’s all in the extension – you have the vision, goals, and pre-week planning all there. So this is obviously prior to the extension where I had that printed copy. Well, for the remaining four months I probably didn’t look at my vision and goals more than maybe once or twice because out of sight, out of mind. And it was amazing to me. I mean, we’ve been talking about this now for years, and out of 23 years, that was the first time that I did not look at them as part of my pre-week planning. And it was amazing to see the drop off on my accomplishment of my goals and the way I was moving towards my vision during those remaining four months of that year, four years ago – so September, October, November, December. And I did do my yearly review, I shared my report at the end of the year with my friends, the people who I have as accountability partners and as I was reviewing the goals, I realized, man, I’ve been tracking so well through the whole year and then there’s this big drop off, those last four months. And I thought, “I could have used that year, my own personal mid-year check in.” Because I stopped using that simple habit of referencing my vision and goals as part of my pre-week planning – and pre-week planning is still powerful, right? Even done as an individual process. But it becomes exponentially more powerful when pre-week planning is done in alignment with our vision and our goals. And I saw that’s exactly what happened that year; it went out of sight out of mind. You know, without the goals, without the vision, my pre-week planning obviously was still great, but man, what was I missing! And I saw a big drop off on almost every goal for those remaining four months. And so, I’m doing for us all what I wish I would have had that year, and that is that mid-year check in to refocus, make sure that we are aligned in our lives on what matters most.  

And the other reason for this is, to draw back on my fighter pilot years, I remember flying from Utah to South Carolina, and we took the F-16s up to 50,000 feet, which is the maximum altitude you can go on the F-16 just because of the cockpit pressurization; the jet can go higher, but bad things start happening to the body if you ejected at that altitude. So 50,000 feet is our service ceiling. Well, at 50,000 feet, you can actually start to see the curvature of the earth. The sky starts to get darker up there. I mean, you’re getting pretty high up there and it’s just an incredible vista from up there. I mean, the view is astonishing. It’s amazing. And I remember, as we were flying to South Carolina, this epiphany came to me – and I know others have used this analogy through the years but, for me, it became very personal. And I thought, you know, this is a lot like life. In other words, we’re flying to South Carolina, and we have our core style in, we have our flight plan up, we know how we’re going to get there and when we need to make adjustments. And if we’re going to get to South Carolina, it’s a series of very small course corrections. It’s one degree here, one degree there. And if we start in Utah – and for those who are listening to this outside the United States – and we’re going to South Carolina, that’s 1,500 to 2,000 miles. If we don’t make those slight course corrections, if we’re just one degree off, when we start in Utah, we could end up being hundreds of miles off in our final destination. So I think you can see the analogy that I’m drawing is, this mid-year check in is all about a slight course correction for the remaining months of this year and if we make it now, man, it can save major corrections later in our life.  

And so, I’m inviting us just to think about where we’re at in our vision, our goals, and our pre-week planning and to make these slight course corrections as necessary in your life. Let’s take this check in to make these little slight alterations, or maybe in some cases, a major one for the remainder of this year. Because, again, either we can toss in the towel and throw away the goals or we can course correct and make these some awesome for months. Now I’m going to spend the rest of the time just asking a few introspective questions and then, at the end of each, I’ll just call it a little section of questions, I’m going to give you some solutions and some things that you can think about and do to make a course correct, if necessary.  

So here we go. Let me ask you a few questions – and maybe the answer is yes, maybe it’s no, maybe it’s sometimes. And again, wherever you’re at, it doesn’t really matter, right? Let’s just take this and say “Good, better, best. How can we do better in these remaining few months that we have of the year?” So let’s start with our big three habits: vision, roles and goals, and pre-week planning — the core and the foundation of how we lead a life by design rather than live a life by default.  

Habit number one: whether you’ve read Do What Matters Most, whether you’ve been through a training, whether you’ve been on our website and you’re just coming across this, do you have a written personal vision for you? Do you have a written personal vision for the five to seven key roles in your life? Now, remember, the difference between a vision and goals is the vision is high level, it’s the very best version of you that you can come up with. You know, if you’re taking off as a pilot, you want to have a destination in mind. This is your destination, your internal compass. So, do you have a written personal vision for your five to seven key roles? If so, how often do you look at them? And the hope is that you look at them nearly every week as part of pre-week planning. That’s what only 1% of people do. It puts you in a very elite statistical group of people who have first identified what matters most and then keep that constantly in front of them so that they can focus on those things because what we focus on becomes our reality. And with your written vision, you’re creating the mental reality prior to the physical reality. And that’s why it’s so important to look at it every week, and not just once or twice a year.  

Now, we’re going to go a step up or a layer deeper, however you want to look at this. And that is, do you have your personal vision memorized? And I’ll tell you this: it’s one thing to have it written; it is so much more powerful if you memorize and internalize your vision for each of your roles because if you want something to be an internal compass, then it needs to be a part of us internally. Our mind needs to understand it, our heart needs to be wrapped around it. And I’ll tell you, you know, I’ve done this, and I think about them, honestly, almost every day, just because they’re in my brain, you know, they’re there. For example, one part of my vision in the role of father is I’m the type of person I want my daughters to marry. Well, do I want them to marry a guy who raises his voice all the time? Who doesn’t open the door for them? You know, all this whole long list of things? Well, this is my internal compass. And so, when I’m left with the decision, ”Do I do this or not?” these are the phrases that come to my mind, and it guides my actions. And so, have you memorized your personal vision? And if not, I encourage you and invite you to do so because what we think about is what we bring about, and you’ve gone to the effort to come up with your personal vision, and it becomes powerful once you memorize and internalize it.  

Now, following that, let’s assume that you have started on your personal vision: does it give you meaning and direction? You should be able to answer yes to both of those. If not, then there’s probably some tweaking that needs to happen – and some things that can help you identify where to tweak are pages 69 and 70 of Do What Matters Most. There’s a series of litmus test questions on pages 69 and 70. So for those of you who have the book, Do What Matters Most, I invite you to take just a minute – I mean, literally a minute, maybe two minutes. Now, you can go much deeper if you would like to, but that’s how long it takes to read these questions. Go through these litmus test questions and ask yourself if it’s yes or no. And if you’re answering yes to most of those questions, you’ve probably got a very solid personal vision. So, there’s our check in on the vision. There are a few questions: Do you have it written? Is it meaningful? Does it give you direction? Have you memorized it? Are you looking at it each week as part of pre-week planning? And if the answer’s no to any of those questions, slight course correct. Little adjustment. Where can you go from good to better on that?  

Now, let’s shift to habit number two: roles and goals. And actually, before I do, let me just pause. If there’s someone who really hasn’t been to a training or read the book yet, I encourage you to get Do What Matters Most, and you’re going to find this habit in chapters three and four of the book. Go through chapters three and four and do what only 2% of people have done – and that is to develop a written personal vision.  

Okay, habit number two, roles and goals. Here’s the questions. How often do you look at your roles and goals? Just like the vision, the invitation is to look at them every week as part of pre-week planning – and that’s why those who have the paper planner and use it are so much more likely to be aligned around what matters most and actually do what they have written in their goals. The same with the Outlook and Chrome extension. You know, it keeps it right in front of you; in the vision and goals tab, you click on it, and boom, there they are. Every single week, you get to stay focused on what you’ve already identified are the things that matter most to you. And that’s why it’s so important to look at them at least weekly.  

Alright, next question. Do you need to make any minor tweaks or adjustments to a particular goal that you feel at this point is out of reach or that’s not going to happen? Now, this can get into a debatable subject, which is, should we tweak goals or not? You know, are they fixed in there or not? Well, my thought on that is this: you know, we’ve got a few months left in the year, and if you know for sure that there is a goal that is out of reach, that there is 0% chance is going to happen as written, I would prefer that a person make a small tweak or adjustment to it towards something that you can do in the remaining four months, rather than just give up and toss it out the window and have it be meaningless. Now, if we go into our year saying, “Well, I’m just gonna tweak them all mid-year” that’s the wrong mindset as well, in my opinion. You know, these have got to be truly what matters most to you by role. These are the one to four goals that are specific and measurable that you’ve identified will have a big impact on your life in that role this year. So I’m just suggesting that if you need to make a tweak or an adjustment to a particular goal, from my perspective, it’s better to do that than it is to just simply toss the goal out the window and do nothing.  

Alright the next two questions: Have you shared your goals already with three to five people who you admire and trust? In other words, there’s a respect level there. And if so, do you plan on reporting back to them at the end of the year? If so, the odds of you accomplishing your goals go up by 33% because of that built-in accountability.  

Next question: Are your goals written in a way that sets you up for success? For example, as you read your goals, do you have the words more, better? Are there daily goals in there? And there are exceptions, but very rarely do I like to see daily goals, because of pre-week planning. Rather words like average, you know, giving yourself flexibility within a month. So, for example, rather than saying “Exercise for 30 minutes every day”, you could come up with something longer term that gives you flexibility such as, “Run a half marathon by November 1st”, or “Be at a resting heart rate of x by x date”. It gives you a lot more flexibility. Or “Be able to benchpress x pound by x date.” But when we say “Exercise 30 minutes every day”, you only need to miss one day as worded and the goal is broken. So, check your goals. Are there ways that they could be worded better, taking out the words more, better, daily, etc.? And if you want a great example page, go to page 96 in Do What Matters Most and look at those examples. Put yours next to them and say, “Hey, is there any way that I could word this more succinctly?” Is there any way that you could word it in a way that aligns you more towards a specific behavior rather than some vague statement? So look at your roles and goals. How often are you looking at them? Could they be worded better? Have you shared them with three to five people who you’ll report back to at the end of the year?  

And finally, here’s habit number three – the most important one, and you knew I was getting to this: pre-week planning. And here’s the golden question for everyone listening, and that is, Are you pre-week planning each week? If so, awesome! Here’s a long-distance high five, long-distance pat on the back. And if not, you know what? No worries! We all have things in our lives where we get on a train and sometimes we get off the train and we need to get back on the train. Hence the course correction analogy. So if the habit slipped out of your what we’d like to say as fighter pilots, your cross-check, this is your chance to get back in the habit of pre-week planning to truly identify what matters most to you each week. In my opinion, you’ve heard me say this, you’ve seen it written in the book, it’s probably the single most important habit that a person can develop in their life. And the reason why I say that is because it impacts every other area of our life, right? Our health, our relationships, our spiritual connection with divinity – if that’s what you believe; I believe there’s a huge power to that – it impacts our relationships with others, how we show up at work. And so, it really does impact how we focus on those different roles in every area of our lives. And that’s why, in my opinion, pre-week planning is so important to do.  

And the other thing is – you know this from reading the book, chapters seven and eight – pre-week planning is so much better than reactive living because when we do pre-week planning, we can sit down and evaluate what we can do that week, rather than living reactively around what we have to do that week. So here’s a couple of things that may help and empower you – and I just want you to think about these introspectively. If pre-week planning has been a little bit of a challenge, have you set an alarm or a repeating event in your calendar to remind you and serve as a trigger? So, for example, Sunday morning, the alarm goes off and in the text of the alarm it says pre-week planning. And that’s there every week and it goes off. And it’s just there to say, “Oh, that’s right. I was gonna do that this morning.” It serves as a connect between developing the habit and connecting the intention to that habit.  

Here’s a couple more thoughts on this. As part of pre-week planning, are you actually following the steps? Step one, are you reviewing your vision, goals, and your long-range calendar? Then step two, are you looking at your roles? Step three, are you brainstorming what matters most in each role that week? And step four, are you assigning a time to it? There was someone last week who said “Yeah, I’ve been doing pre-week planning for a long time.” And I asked them, “Well, explain to me your process. How do you do it?” He said, “Well, I sit down on Friday afternoon before I leave work, and I think about all the things I need to do at work the next week. And then when I roll in Monday morning, I’m ready to go.” Okay, now, you probably know how I responded here. You know, I congratulated that person and said, “That’s great that you’re doing that. That’s only a very small part, though, of pre-week planning. That’s only one role. And that’s not enough. That’s not actually pre-week planning.” I mean, what they were doing was good but in the spirit of good, better, best, though, how much was being left on the table with that person? And that’s what we talked about was, you know, the real idea is to do pre-week planning in the context of your vision and your goals because now you’re aligning around what matters most to you long term. You know the direction that you’re going. And the other part is to look at the different roles – personal being the most important role – as a parent, as a husband or wife, and so on, and then asking what can be done in each of those roles because a person who has a balance of success stories is 47% more productive at work than someone who has a significant personal issue in their lives. And I think we’ve all been that person where you had a health diagnosis, you had an argument with a husband or wife or a son or daughter – you take those to work, right? It’s on your mind, you’re thinking about it. It impacts your mood and your attitude for the day. And so, we are all benefited by having a balance of success stories – and it’s pre-week planning that will do that.  

Now, for those of you that are in the habit of this, have you shared pre-week planning with your partner and your children? How about your co-workers or your team members? You know how powerful pre-week planning has been in your own life. Wouldn’t it be great for them to develop the same habit and lead the rest of their life with that as part of it? And so, if you haven’t done that yet – whether it’s sharing the book Do What Matters Most, whether it’s talking about the extension, whether it’s giving them a planner, or at a very base level, just telling them about pre-week planning – you will be doing them a huge favor because, again, in my opinion, this is one of the most important habits someone can develop in their lifetime.  

So I hope that these questions that have been introspective in nature have been helpful for you. For me, I wish I would have asked myself those questions four years ago, rather than losing four months of focus on, for me, what mattered most. And, you know, I was doing pre-week planning, but it wasn’t in the context of my vision and goals. Thereby, I saw a huge drop off on the accomplishment of what I set out to do. So, you know, we’ve talked about pre-week planning, we’ve talked about having these little course corrections. Think of ourselves as flying along in an F-16. This is, you know, the F-16 of life. We’re making these slight course corrections so that we can ultimately end up at the destination that we’ve identified. My invitation is to do it now, is not to wait. Procrastination is one of the killers of success. We’re talking about your life, your relationships, your job, your health. These things are too important to procrastinate out another month, you know, another year. And it’s these three powerful habits that will literally align us towards and empower us to do what matters most.  

So I hope this mid-year check in has been helpful for you. You know, we focus on our priorities. What we think about is what we bring about. If we don’t have a clear vision, any path will get us there. So, it’s about identifying where we want to go, the roles and goals that will help measure our milestones towards moving in that direction, and then pre-week planning, aligning around what matters most each week in the context of our vision and goals.  

So, again, thank you for being here today. If you’re an electronic calendar user – Google, Outlook, etc. – and you have not gotten the extension yet: Get the extension, insert your roles and goals, your vision, and then it’s gonna be so much easier to do pre-week planning, because it’s there in front of you every week, and you’re like, “That’s right. I need to do it.” You have now the tool to implement the process. So, thank you for all the good you do in the world. I hope you have a great day and a wonderful rest of your week. 

Rob Shallenberger

CEO, Becoming Your Best

Leading authority on leadership and execution, F-16 Fighter Pilot, and father

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