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Lifehack: The Nightly Review

Posted February 4, 2019 • Change,Mindfulness • by Jennifer Goldman-Wetzler, Ph.D.

This week, I was interviewed on the podcast The Upgrade about how to be a better boss. 

The smart and funny hosts, Melissa Kirsch and Alice Bradley, the Editor-in-Chief and Deputy Editor of the popular website Lifehacker, ended the interview by asking me about a “life hack”– something simple that has made my life profoundly better. 

I couldn’t resist telling them about the Nightly Review ritual I’ve created and shared with countless executives. 

It goes like this:

Get comfy in bed.

Read the Nightly Review questions:

  • What worked well today?
  • What would I do differently next time?
  • What am I looking forward to about tomorrow?
  • What am I nervous about for tomorrow? How can I prepare to make that easier or better?

Write 3 bullet answers under each question.

Turn off light.

Go to sleep.

The Nightly Ritual works for a few simple reasons:

  • Increase in Positive Thinking: The Nightly Ritual focuses you on the positive (what went well today and what you’re looking forward to tomorrow). Recent research on positive thinking suggests that focusing on the positive leaves you not only feeling happier, but also boosts your health and your work-related skills. 
  • Increase in Personal Agency:  The Nightly Ritual acknowledges that while some things might not have gone, or may not go, as you’d like, you have the agency to improve things. You can develop real, practical ideas that help the next day (and the days after that) go as well as possible. Personal agency has been shown in psychological research to contribute to increased feelings of well-being in adults.
  • Expressive Writing About Your Life: Classic research conducted by renowned psychologist James Pennebaker also gives us a clue about why the Nightly Review is so helpful. Pennebaker’s research, replicated many times with different populations and in different contexts, suggests that the simple act of writing about our lives — the good, the bad and the ugly– leads to increased health and better performance. While the popular Five Minute Journal gives people a boost by directing them to write about the positive aspects of their days, the Nightly Review directs you to write not only about what went well, but also about what you can do to improve things in the future, which gives you an extra boost in well-being. 

The Nightly Ritual is the ultimate self-coaching technique. 

The next time it’s late at night and you wish you had a coach by your side, whip out your Nightly Ritual questions and answer them. 

Let your answers be your guide to a good night’s sleep and a happier, healthier, more skillful tomorrow.