Read, Write, Reflect, Review, Relax: The 5 R’s

As another year ends, once again I find myself thinking about the new year to come.  A time of goal setting, habit-considering, and plan-making.  I have never had much success with New Year’s resolutions.  But that is no reason to avoid examining what I do, thinking about what I want to do, and putting structure in place to help me change and grow. That is why I look to the 5 R’s: Read, Write, Reflect, Review, and Relax.

Some time ago I heard about the 5 R’s.  This straightforward guide (and I have modified it a bit from how it was conveyed to me) is just the trick that I needed.  It helps me remember the simple daily or weekly steps that I can take to grow and improve. The 5 R’s: Read, Write, Reflect, Review, and Relax.

1st R:  Read

The 1st R is Read.  Read a non-fiction book.  Read something online.  Read to learn and grow.
Read – Learn and Grow!

Many years ago, I heard Dave Ramsey talk about the reading habits of millionaires.  I had stumbled across his familiar voice on the AM dial while driving to Atlanta, and I paused long enough to hear his statement:  “Millionaires, on average, read 11 non-fiction books a year.”  The exact number does not matter much.  The point is solid, however.  At the time I had a fiction spy novel on my nightstand.  And at that moment I resolved to change.  I have not sustained the average rate, but non-fiction books have become more important to me.  Make the 1st R: Read your top goal – to read a little bit each day.  Set a daily, weekly, or monthly goal.  Write it down.  Somewhere I picked up this piece of trivia, and I am not sure of its authenticity (but it sounds intriguing) – Warren Buffett reads about 300 pages each day.

2nd R:  Write

The 2nd R is Write.  Practice writing to learn how to express yourself.  Read, Write, Reflect, Review, and Relax.
Write – Express Yourself!

Okay, so perhaps I failed spelling.  Yes, I know that it does not start with R.  In any case, writing is an important part of growth.  It does not matter if it is technical writing, professional writing, or personal.  It does not matter if it involves journaling your deep personal thoughts and emotions, or working on an outline for a keynote speech, blog post, or a new novel.  The important part of writing is exercising your brain, conducting analysis, and synthesizing it into words to convey your thoughts.  Study the science of writing, as well as developing your own art form.  Try different formats, genre, and topics.  Grow in your second goal – the 2nd R: Write as you express yourself with ever-increasing frequency and skill.

3rd R:  Reflect

The 3rd R is Reflect.  Schedule time in your day for thinking and pondering.  Read, Write, Reflect, Review, and Relax.
Reflect – Take time to Think!

“Wait!  Hold on, let me think…”  Have you ever heard or said these words?  In our face-paced society, having the time to stop and think is often unheard of as action receives first place.  Thus, the best way to have time to think is to schedule it.  Set up a routine of quiet reflection and consideration.  Think about your long-term strategies and goals as well as your short-term course of action and next steps.  Proactively apply the Critical Thinking tools of depth, breadth, significance, relevance, accuracy, precision, clarity, completeness, logic, and fairness to what you face.  Evaluate each tool in consideration of the question/concern/issue or problem, and in that way consider all aspects.  Develop sound conclusions and recommendations for the path forward.  None of this will happen by accident – the 3rd R:  Reflect must be intentional.

4th R:  Review

The 4th R is Review.  You need to assess what information is coiming into your life and store that which will be useful.
Review – Assess and Store!

This could also be called “File.”  What this means is that you actively sort and store the information that we are constantly bombarded with.  For electronic media (emails, texts, pictures, video) this means a filing system so that the information can be accessed in the future.  But this also means that deletion is your friend – a way to clear out the noise and excess that will not be of future use.  For non-electronic information (letters, brochures, notes, ideas, writing) there also needs to be an organizational scheme.  See Reagan’s Note Card Treasures by John H. Fund from the July/August 2011 issue of The American Spectator for the importance of reviewing and remembering.  Also, Sorting through All the Laughs Joan Rivers Left Behind gives incredible insight to the power of the 4th R:  Review as practiced by a master communicator.

5th R:  Relax

The 5th R is Relax.  Make time to spend doing the things that you like and that restores your energy.  Read, Write, Reflect, Review, and Relax.
Relax – Recreate and Rejuvenate!

Maybe this is the hardest one for me.  It is difficult to unwind and let go, as there are always so many things to be done.  The problem is that I often find myself substituting mindless activity for true recreation, and miss the renewing and energizing properties of real relaxation.  It is a time to rest from your labor, to recharge your batteries, and rejuvenate your creativity.  Try to set apart some real, significant time, either daily or weekly, to a period of relaxation.  As with the other R’s, be intentional.  But also remember to use moderation, because if left unchecked, the 5th R:  Relax may end up consuming too much of your most precious resource – time.

Balance the 5 R’s across your day, week, or month.  Be intentional and proactive.  Make time in your schedule for all of these things, and see what benefits you find from each.  As with many activities, through repetition and practice, they can be perfected to give more return and benefit that what you find at first.  To put it simply, be consistent with the 5 R’s and you will consistently improve with them.

The 5 R’s – Read, Write, Reflect, Review, and Relax  – today’s ActionLink.  Be sure to look for more Leadership Principles from P H Tyson & Associates.

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