A Four-Step Recipe To REAP All You Can From A Major Experience

When was the last time you sat down and gave yourself an honest, in-depth self-evaluation? And if you go off to a great conference (like Catalyst), do you take time to intentionally cull through your notes and experiences and pull out action points? Do you come up with short-term and long-term practical applications? Do you convert your new-found knowledge into powerful life-change?

Benjamin Franklin famously said that “Genius without education is like silver in the mine.” The same could be said about intentional self-evaluation – especially after a great conference, project or event!

If you don’t evaluate, you’re leaving the harvest out in the field.
You’re leaving money on the table.
You’re forgetting to flush the toilet! (Geez, don’t do that!)

Self-evaluation brings out the best in us, maximizes our rewards for showing up, and cuts out the baggage and garbage that we hauling around.

Here’s an easy four-step recipe for reaping the most out of your conference (or project, event, semester). The four big pieces – Read, Evaluate, Apply, and Pray – spell out the word REAP. It breaks down like this:

Preparation:
– Plan this out. Give yourself at least an hour.
– Bring your notes (written or otherwise), and something to write with.
– Sit down. Shut off your Wi-Fi. Silence your phone. It’s about solitude.

STEP 1: Review.
Re-read your notes. Recall the best moments of the conference and the best lessons you learned there.

– What impacted you? What moved and inspired you?
– What were the key takeaways from each session? Why?
– Who did you meet? What did you learn from them?

STEP 2: Evaluate.
Think back. Think before the conference too. Identify the gaps between where you are now and where you want to be.

– What have you been doing well?
– What needs to change?
– What deeper issues do you need to deal with?

STEP 3: Apply.
The whole point is not that you’d KNOW more, but rather GROW more. Break your evaluation down into actionable applications. Great applications are:

– Personal
It’s not for your friend who missed the conference, your uncle, or your spouse – it’s for you. Don’t make applications for them – make applications for yourself.

– Practical
Make applications for which you can measure success. For example, “be kinder to my wife” is not practical enough. How can I measure that?

I could say instead, “Write my wife a note everyday,” or “Send her a text to say I love her at lunch.”

The more definition you can put into your applications, the better.

– Possible
If you haven’t exercised in five years, “run a marathon next month” is an impossible application. Aim high, shoot for greatness, but like Clint Eastwood said, “A man’s got to know his limits.”

Truth be told, this is a cornerstone of lasting life change. What’s better? A small sustainable habit that you can do and grow daily? Or massive and unsustainable activities that you’ll just do once – then fail to continue?

STEP 4: Pray.
I’m a spiritual man, so this is crucial for me. If a life change is going to be seriously powerful and lasting, we need serious outside help. Consider what Steve Pressfield says:

“Whenever something beautiful is trying to come into the world, it will face equal and opposite resistance.”

Close your session by taking time to pray. Ask God for help, and expect great things!

EXTRA CREDIT.
Share what you REAPed with others, especially others who were with you at the conference. Commit to help each other follow through. Better yet, do your REAP together – like going to the gym, it’s not easy to get yourself to do this sort of thing alone!

That’s the recipe. It’s done wonders for me – not only at the end of conferences, but after key seasons of life, finishing books, and after volunteer work trips! Don’t leave anything in the field – REAP it to the edges. Your life will never be the same.

Your turn: What’s your best takeaways from the last conference you went to? Or the last big thing you did? Tell us all about it in the comments section below!

This is a guest post by Ed Oyama. Ed is originally from southern California and is now the director of the Central Asian wing of an international volunteer teaching agency. He writes, teaches, and leads a leadership club at one of the top universities in Central Asia. Ed is also the author of The Pursuit of Awesome, which can be found free at Noisetrade.
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