The first time I heard the “Reverse engineer” term was when I started working at SEEK in year end of 2016. Before I really understood the meaning behind the term, I was intimidated by the word “engineer” that sounds too technical for someone who was tech-noob at that time (I have improved a lot now! 😆 I then, started to apply this method into many of my project managing works that also came along with my job role which I found to be super useful later.
What is reverse engineer?
According to wikipedia, reverse engineering is also called backwards engineering or back engineering.
Verb. To disassemble and examine or analyze in detail (a product or device) to discover the concepts involved in manufacture usually in order to produce something similar. – Meriam-webster
It is one way to help us understand and visualise the steps that needs to be taken by taking apart an object. Instead of starting from zero, the concept is to start with the end result though visualising the criteria that is required of the end product. Learning this method has been a game changer to my work quality and productivity. It helps with the mental block and reduces the stress when starting a brand new and foreign project (in area you are familiar with or completely new to).
Does reverse engineer exercise only meant for work-related stuff? Nope, I have applied this methodology in other parts of my life area such as birthday surprise, family home movement, house annual spring cleaning, paying tax, etc. Anything that requires more than a step is treated can apply reverse engineering concept to get it done.
While I was at lunch today, I watched The Modern Health Monk (MHM) in his youtube video titled “How to design your life with journaling” where he discussed the “reverse engineering” methodology in his journaling exercise.
He quoted Gary Vaynerchuk, “Envision your ideal day and then reverse engineer it” which came to be a powerful way to get to your ideal day.
As I was listening to the MHM video, I was connecting his points to how I am going to upgrade my journaling exercise which seems to be gray and felt more like a chore rather than routine these few days. The outcome that I wanted to get is to be more purposeful with my journaling which will contribute to an ideal and productive day.
Just braindumping thoughts doesn’t seems to give me a structure and amp my morning. Don’t get me wrong, braindump is also a kind of journaling but one of my goal this year is to do things which brings more purpose and otucome. Hence, this note that I learned from MHM today is going to be a new experiment framework to my journaling exercise from now onwards.
So here’s what I gathered from the video and how I structured my journaling :
Visualise and draw the ideal day that you want for yourself
- There is no right or wrong in doing this although I would agree with MHM to use this framework in a journal or designated notebook.
- You can use a mind map as a tool to help you draw the visual that you have in mind for getting the ideal day.
What do you want to feel?
- It is suggested that you can start by prompting the question around the ideal emotion you want to feel at the end of the day
- This could be to feel happy, mentally peaceful, appreciated, etc.
What do you want to do?
- The next prompt question is the area in which you can act on it
- In my personal preference, I would use the life wheel and vision board that I have set for the year to help guide what I want to do for the day.
- First, take a look at the life wheel and pick one area of life that you want to focus on. This can be the quarterly area of focus that you have set for yourself at the beginning of the quarter or start of the year
- Then based on that area, take a look at the vision board that represents your annual vision.
- Think of a step (s) (preferred only one thing at a time) that you imagine happening and will contribute to your big goal in the vision board.
- Another question you can ask yourself to decide what you want to do for the day is,“What needs to happen in order for my big goals/ vision to achieved?”
- Break it down in bullet points within the mind map you have drawn earlier
- If integrating the life wheel and your vision board can be intimidating if this is your first time to practice this type of journaling, worry not, just use the life wheel to guide which life area do you want to focus on today and start from there first.
Cross check the ideal emotions and to-dos
- It is easy to just draw the mind-map with the endless ideas that came out from your mind during this exercise.
- Limit 3-5 points for each of the prompted questions
- Take a moment to validate the answers you have written and try to see the connections on how does your to-dos will make you feel or will you feel the way you wanted by doing the items in your to-dos.
As much as it is super awesome if you can straight design the ideal life you want in a whole year, it can be overwhelming if you have never done this before.
I started small and focused one day at a time before I built the habit around reverse engineering all my works which added to one week projection to one month and so forth through out every area of my life.
Best time to journal
The best time to do this exercise is either the night before or early morning after you have done writing your “morning pages” (if you are practicing this).
It is entirely up to your flexibility and preference. Just remember to enjoy the experience!