If you’ve been practicing something for a while, one of the most productive things you can do is to press pause and reflect on how that practice is actually affecting your real life.

Let’s say you’ve been working on listening more effectively to your colleagues. Your practice is to ask questions before sharing, and to reflect back what you’re hearing before responding.

Here are five simple questions you can use to check in on how the practice is going:

  • How is this practice encouraging you to change the story you’re telling yourself? Do you notice that you’re more frequently telling yourself something like, “I’m curious about what’s behind this person’s words and behavior. What question can I ask to understand them better?”
  • How is this practice shaping your emotional reactions as you go through your day? Do you notice more calm, present feelings? Or are you swamped by anxiety, impatience, disappointment, or awkward feelings?
  • How is this practice affecting your actions? Are you speaking more or less? What’s going on with your face as you stare at Zoom for another hour? Does its expression show presence or preoccupation?
  • How is this practice helping you to notice and emulate role models? Are you studying that colleague who seems so dialed in to you every time you talk or that leader who has created an amazingly productive atmosphere in her team?
  • How is this practice affecting your relationships? Have you had more positive interactions with the colleagues who matter most to you, even those who can be a little tricky for you?

The answers to those questions are like a doctor’s check-up on the usefulness of your practice. Wherever the answers are positive, you’ll know to keep going. Wherever you see no progress or even negative results, you’ll know it’s time to refine the practice.

Pros know that practice is good, but that every practice needs refinement over time. Take the time to answer these five simple questions to diagnose where your practice can be tweaked.

Be bright