How do you calibrate your life so that you’re doing the things that matter most?

One of the personal development rhythms that I’ve tried to keep for the past two decades is what I affectionately call my weekly Hour of Power. To be honest, I’m not sure where the name came from. And no, it’s not a nod to Robert Schuller and the Crystal Cathedral. But it does sound like a throwback to the eighties – a decade of power suits, power ties, power metal bands, and power shoulder pads. But I digress…

During the hour of power (usually Sunday nights), I sit down and deliberately evaluate and plan my life. Sometimes it takes more than an hour – sometimes less. I first look back and assess my previous week, then look forward and direct my upcoming week. I also spend time doing some long-term planning, by looking months down the road. I’ve discovered that when I incorporate this weekly rhythm into my life, I excel at putting first things first, accomplishing my goals, and paying attention to the things I value most.

This weekly discipline is most effective if you have concrete personal goals and are guided by a strong personal compass (I’ll post more about these concepts later). If you only schedule events in your calendar, you may find yourself succumbing to the tyranny of the urgent, rather than focusing on what’s most important. Besides, how can you measure personal success by only looking at a calendar? You need higher principles and goals that govern what you put in your calendar. If you want to get your head around these concepts, I’d recommend the late Stephen Covey’s First Things First.

With my goals in hand (physical, spiritual, relational, emotional, intellectual), I evaluate my previous week. It’s important during this time that I pay attention to outcomes (productivity) and not just outputs (activity). If I only measure outputs, I’ll only be able to determine whether or not I was busy. This is again why personal goals are so important. During this evaluation time, I ask these questions: How did I do at reaching my personal goals? Did I have the right rhythms and habits in place to help me reach them? What can I celebrate? How can I thank God for this past week? Where do I need more grit? Where do I need to graciously cut myself some slack?

Next, I look forward and plan my week, in light of my personal goals and compass. I employ the principle, put first things first. The things that are most important get into my calendar first. Early morning workouts. An appointment with God. Time with my darling spouse and family. Study and reading. Sleep. Humans are creatures of habit, so I try to create a consistent weekly schedule, in order to develop rituals and habits. There’s plenty of brain science on the importance of forming these types of rhythms. If you’re looking for a good, inspiring read on this subject, check out The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.

Want a more productive and focused life? Start incorporating this rhythm into your weekly grind. It’s the rhythm of all rhythms. One rhythm to rule them all, one rhythm to find them. One rhythm to bring them all, and in the hour bind them.

Try it out for a month. I’d love to hear how it’s working for you.

Since we’re talking about power, here’s a throwback video which ended the power decade. This is just for kicks. Got the power?