I know, your inbox and social media is full of emails and posts about goal-setting and how to “plan your best year ever!” right? Well, in this article I am going to be talking about the year ahead, but I’m actually going to be focusing on the year that was. Why, you may be asking, when it is essentially done and dusted? For one great reason – you achieve a hell of a lot in a year and I’m guessing that the majority of us don’t stop to acknowledge that! We just power right on through into the next year, scribbling down all our grandiose goals on New Year’s Day, without actually stopping to consider what actually went down this past year. Take a moment. What did you actually accomplish this year? What were the good bits, the hard bits, and the lessons you learned from both? What’s worth keeping and bringing into the new year, instead of throwing the baby out with the bathwater and starting all over again?
Over the past couple of years, I have switched my focus towards an annual review process, rather than the traditional new year’s resolutions and goal-setting regime, for a couple of main reasons:
1) acknowledging what I have actually accomplished is an excellent way for me to build confidence in my abilities, both professionally, personally and in sport;
2) I learn a hell of a lot from looking at what went well and what went sideways, why, and how I can do things differently in future;
3) it frames this process in a positive and constructive way, rather than focusing on those grand (often unrealistic) goals that weren’t achieved;
4) it allows me to identify the good things from the current year and bring them over into the new year, positive things that will serve me well moving forward.
I have to confess though, I am a planner, and I am a “reflector”, so I do make goals for the year because of course I want to achieve big things like everyone else, but this is done quarterly with a few main objectives listed out in some key areas of my life (professional, personal, financial) – it is NOT the usual New Year’s Day list of amazing and well-intentioned ambitious goals and resolutions that more often than not don’t get achieved. Not because I’m not committed, but because life changes, opportunities arise, and doors open that you can’t possibly foresee on the bright morning of January 1. That’s life! So instead of setting myself up for potential failure, I break it down quarterly and set smaller objectives that will amount to achieving my big goals – this allows the flexibility to take different paths to get there…or sometimes, to go in different directions that I couldn’t have predicted until they arose! I also include a reflection process at the end of each quarter, kind of like a mini-review process similar to this bigger annual review. Speaking of…
Let’s get back to the annual review process. I’m nothing if not an organized, system-loving nerd, so doing this annual review actually excites me. I know, right?! It was the highlight of my Christmas/New Year’s break.
So, what did I do and how did I do it? If you’d like to shake up your new year and start with a fresh perspective and approach, then give this process a go.
- Grab a notebook, pen and a quiet place where you can think and reflect without interruption for an hour or so.
- Contemplate and answer the following questions (or your own version of, be creative and do what suits you!):
What did I accomplish this year? This can be across all areas of your life – professional, personal, sport. List it out, I think you’ll be surprised at the result!
What am I most proud of achieving and why? List. Everything.
How do I feel about accomplishing all these things? Allow yourself to feel the emotions that arise, and accept them. Celebrate the wins!
What enabled you to successfully achieve these? It could be anything from personality traits, behaviours, beliefs, people, decisions.
What challenged me this year and why?
What key lessons did I learn this year?
What would I like to improve on next year? Again, this could be personal habits, beliefs, and behaviours, to more specific business or sport-related upskilling and optimisation.
What are the most useful, positive and constructive things to bring with me into the new year? What were your best success-enablers, and what will serve you best moving forward?
What will I leave behind? Simply put, what didn’t serve you this year?
What would I like to acknowledge myself for this year? Did you push through a really difficult period? Did you achieve a massive goal? Did you kick a bad habit? High-five that!
- Read over your responses to these questions and let them sink in for a moment.
- Write down how you feel now moving into 2019.
- Write down your experience in completing this process and how it has–and will–benefit you now and moving forward into the new year.
Phew! Nice work on following through with the process. No doubt there were a few eye-opening realisations in there for you – there certainly were for me! To be honest, I was a bit shocked at how much I had actually accomplished this year, as I’ve been beating myself up a bit lately for feeling like I haven’t achieved as much as I should have and I’m not where I should be. But on reflection, I realized I had actually made some big steps forward in particular areas of my life, and while that didn’t happen across the board, I am much further down the road than I gave myself credit for. But I only came to that realization through reflection!
I hope this process has provided you with some insights and learnings from your year that was, and has given you a fresh perspective moving forward into the new. I know that I am excited for everything that is in store for me! What’s on the cards for you?