As another year has come to an end, many people start to think about their resolutions for this new year. How many though take time to reflect on the past year Many people just want to say good riddens and move on. However, understanding the past will help us be more successful in the future.
Taking time to look back will help us understand what we did right, what we could possibly have done better, what did we accomplish, what didn’t we accomplish, etc.
To reflect on the past year follow these steps:
Separate your life into the “big” areas: Finances, Relationships, Health, Work and/or whatever other large categories are important in your life.
Brainstorm the activities in each of your big areas and start writing down all the things that pop into your head. Just write…. DON’T filter! Often times what may not seem important or make sense at first blush is actually very important to getting a better understanding of YOU.
Next categorize the activities under each area into ones that were good, things that could have been improved, etc. Don’t overkill this; simply put into buckets that are meaningful to you
Now look for patterns.What items make you proud? What items make you cringe or pop out as needing some attention?
Regroup these items into “importance” and start digging into them.
This may seem like an overwhelming task at first; however, it can be kept simple. One way to help keep it manageable is to just keep it simple and don’t over think any of it. It doesn’t have to be perfect. It is simply an exercise to give you a picture of the last year.
Another option is to break it down into pieces and do things over a few days. If you really want to dig in then you may want to seek the help of a coach. A coach will help walk you through these steps to keep you focused and organized.
The above exercise will bring you a deeper awareness of the areas of your life that could use improvement. Before moving on though, I want to emphasize that you must also take time to “pat yourself on the back” for all of the positive things that you did.
As you move on to evaluate your areas of improvement you must be open and honest with yourself and not too hard on yourself. The above exercise is not intended to be another opportunity for you to beat yourself up. It is a learning process and will help you set a baseline to establish goals for the new year.
planning for your future
For example, if you find that you’re finances are generally OK, but you notice your credit card spend (and interest spend) is up you may make a goal to do a budget to see how to pay off the credit card sooner to avoid the interest payments or maybe even find a way to pay off every month so that the credit card company pays you! That’s right! Pay you….many credit card companies offer cash back. They do this because they know most people will take the offer but, then not pay everything timely so the person still gets the cash back, but they end up paying tons of interest. Through some simple planning, you can easily get several hundred dollars per year back from your credit card!
Another example may be that you determine you’ve been a bit lax watching your health and you have gained a few unwanted pounds. Health may be very important to you so you decide you want to focus some time in the new year to work on this. This would be the time to start mapping out your journey. What things do you need to do to change your health? Mapping out a journey and staying accountable is VERY hard. Fortunately, this is another area where a coach can help you.
Then you see that you aren’t really happy with your current career, or that you should go get a certification so you can get a raise, or maybe you find that there hasn’t been any time for you and you want to find a hobby. There will be many opportunities discovered and you may find that you have more things you want to work on than you can handle. Once again you have to keep it simple and manageable. Pull out one or two big things and work on them.
If you try to do everything you will most likely end up doing nothing, because it will be too much to manage. Focus on the one or two big things and when you get them done then move on to the next one. I like to try to manage most goals to complete within 1-3 months. This helps keep momentum. Think of the excitement and pride you’ll feel when you complete each one.
Imagine when you sit down at the end of the new year…you’ll have numerous things that you will have improved from the previous year! You may not get everything done that you would like and that is OK. Life is an on-going journey.
For more information on reviewing your year, setting up goals for the new year or any other goal needs you have feel free to contact me. Good luck on your review and here is to an outstanding New Year!