As the year comes to a close, many of us will find ourselves reflecting on the year that was, and almost as many will start to think about the year (and future) that could be.
Some will of us will bound towards December 31, bursting with pride and excitement about what has been achieved, the relationships formed and the amazing things we’ve learned.
Others of us will look more sombrely at the past year, with some disappointments, some painful lessons and even some war wounds still stinging.
For most of us, this year, like any other year, will have been filled with a mixture of highs and lows. The highs will have made the year memorable and positive, and we may well prefer to skim over the lows and leave them well out of our highlights reel.
No matter the kind of year this was for you, we all well know the value (to our career, our lives, and even our mental health) of a calm moment of reflection. A chance to get out of the noise, take stock, and look back on the good, bad (and even the ugly) of the year that was, with a focus on the lessons learned and the priorities and opportunities to take in the new year.
To some good news? The team at mwah. have developed a personal guided coaching session you can use to lead yourself through some good quality reflection, and get you into a great headspace with which to plan a better future!
Want to get started? Fantastic! Let’s Go.
Mindset, Environment and Focus
This reflection exercise is not something we would recommend you do on the run, say on a train, with your fellow commuters nudging you in the ribs and looking over your shoulder. Similarly, few of us will have the opportunity for a few days of solitude in a Tibetan temple. Life will dictate it’s somewhere in between, but let’s make that choice with some thought.
Our suggestion? Finds a quiet, comfortable space, where you have at least a few hours of uninterrupted time to really think, question and reflect. Grab a cup of coffee or tea (or a cheeky glass of red wine) and a notepad, move away from distractions (phone, laptop, TV and the kids), and commit a chunk of time to really focus yourself. You are totally worth this investment.
A quick word on mindset. When doing this year in review reflection, try and do this with as balanced a headspace as possible. The mwah. practical guidance here is to avoid doing this on a day where things have either gone horribly wrong or perfectly right. Instead, find a headspace where you can provide an honest and real perspective, that is not to heavily skewed in either direction.
The year what was
We will start by taking a real look at the year. Remember this is your personal reflection, so now is the time to be honest, brave and true to the experience you have had.
Here‘s 10 questions to spark your thinking;
- What are you most grateful for this year? (1 personal and 1 professional)
- What was the absolute standout for this year? (1 personal and 1 professional)
- What could you have done better this year? (1 personal and 1 professional).
- What was your impact on others around you this year? Think partner, family, friends, team, peers, boss and others.
- What are the 3 most important things you have learnt from this year?
- What surprised you most about yourself this year?
- Have you positively contributed to your legacy this year? In what way?
- What was the bravest opportunity you took?
- What was the opportunity you let go and still wonder about?
- Give yourself a ‘mark’ out of 10 for the year.
With 10 being a perfect year and 1 being a pretty awful year, where do you sit? Remember – don’t be too hard or too easy on yourself. Instead take a balanced view, with all things considered, how do you feel about this year overall?
The year ahead – small steps to big steps
Now that you are clear on what you want to take from this year, it’s time to focus on what you want next year to look like. This is your opportunity to take ownership of your upcoming experience by being clear and purposeful around the things that are most important to you.
Now 10 questions to focus your thinking;
- If you were to mark next year as a 9 or 10 out of 10, what would need to happen in the year? Think personal and professional.
- What are the things you most want to achieve next year? Think personal and professional.
- What impact do you want to make on others around you next year? Think partner, family, friends, team, peers, boss and others. How will you do this?
- What strengths/successes from last year do you want to build on? How will this be done?
- What miss-steps from last year should be avoided? How will this be done?
- What do you want to be able to do differently next year?
- What new skills do you need, or existing skills do you need to develop, to achieve everything you want next year?
- What’s that’s one thing you’d love to do for ages, but haven’t. What stopped you? How could you take that barrier away?
- What’s the one person you’ve wanted to meet or spend more time with? Is it possible? What value could you add to that conversation?
- How will you contribute to your legacy next year?
Clear plans and priorities – the big steps
This is the really important, but sometimes tricky part, that even the most committed of us tend to skip over. This is the part of the reflection where we get clear on the plan and priorities for the year ahead.
Think SMART goals (specific, measurable, realistic, achievable and time based). Perhaps even share these with your boss, mentor, partner or friend who can provide support and encouragement throughout the year and keep you on track.
Here are some questions to round out your reflection;
- What are the top three things you want to achieve next year? What will it take to do this? What will you need to do differently? Who will you need around you? When should they be done?
- What are the 3 skills you are going to focus on building for next year? How will you do this? What help will you need? When will it be done? How will you know you have nailed these skills?
- How will your intended impact on others come to life? What will you do daily/weekly/regularly to keep this intention on track? How will you get feedback on your impact?
And that’s all it takes. Feel free to revisit this reflection tool as many times as you would like so that you are clear on the take-aways from this year, and what you want to focus on and achieve for the future.
If you are a Leader, you can even use this reflection guide as a basis for a ‘year in review’ discussion with your team. This is a great and simple way to finish the year on a high note, and create a clear collective focus to align efforts and energy across the team.
Want to go even deeper and get into the driver’s seat of your whole work life and career? Register for our last event of 2018, the mwah. Breakout Breakfast on ‘Driving your own Career’.