As we approach the New Year, we always reflect on how fast time goes by. Only a good and deep reflection on the past year can help you understand the lessons you have learned and help you prepare a very successful 2016.
I want to propose a few simple questions that will help you assess your year and prepare for the new one to come. These questions will help you explore the learnings of that year so you can lay down the foundations for 2016.
Let me offer three simple strategies which contains these questions to help you see more clearly
First – the “unique word” strategy
No matter who you are, at this time you know that a new year is near , so you automatically think about the previous year. Whenever you do that, there is a feeling associated to that thinking. You feel either good or bad, satisfied or dissatisfied, or you can even have a feeling of guilt.
Let’s analyze why we have this strange feeling. Let’s do that by first identifying the unique word that comes to mind to describe that last year.
Was it terrible/awful/shitty/overwhelming/too much?Is it a positive or a negative word?
Was it fantastic/great/awesome/fulfilling?
Was it OK?
Put your word in this box
If the first word that comes to mind is OK, you must admit that it wasn’t exciting. OK sounds more like stagnation to me. Also, if you compare yourself to people who are worse than you to reassure yourself, you must admit that this is not a strategy that will help you improve your life…
Whatever the feeling is, it is talking to you. If the feeling is bad, you know you need to take action to make it better. If the feeling is good, it motivates you to take action as well, to ensure that you will get the same feeling at the end of 2016.
Second – the three list strategy
In order to assess your year properly, I suggest you fill up the table below. This will help you build the three lists. Please fill in the first 2 columns, the third one will be discussed in the following section.
|What are the 3 most important things that happened to me
(unexpected – negative or positive)
|What are the 3 goals I had identified at the beginning of 2015 that I have reached||What are my 3 biggest learnings of the year
Read following section before filling up
If there is not much in the second column, this means that you haven’t taken charge of your life. This means that you are letting life happen instead of trying to create it. Therefore you don’t have much control over your life.
Jim Rohn said that life is a collection of experiences and our responsibility is to make sure we have more positive ones than negative. You ensure this will happen by having goals.
Third – the evaluated experience strategy
Many people think that experience is the best teacher, but the great leadership expert John C. Maxwell thinks otherwise. He states that evaluated experience is the best teacher. He believes that evaluated reflection turns experience into insight. We all have bad experiences, but some people don’t seem to learn from them because they don’t reflect on them. Moreover they don’t want to admit that they could have reacted differently or have taken responsibility.
Responsibility means asking: what can I do with that situation? I cannot change what happened, but I can decide how I react to it and build on it.
Now that you have done an inventory of your experiences in the first and second column, you can fill up the third 3rd column. This will enable you to evaluate the experiences both negative and positive, and decide how you will use them to improve in the future.
Here are a few more questions to help you analyse the experiences you went through in 2015.
|What can I learn from my bad experiences?||What do I need to stop doing?||What do I need to begin or to do more?|
Whatever happened, be grateful for the learnings these experiences have provided.
So at this point, you have a pretty good idea about your 2015. You can describe it with a unique word, you have an inventory of the things that you have done or not done, and you have analysed the experiences so they will serve you in the future. When people ask about your year, you will have a clear picture about what to tell them and, after reading the sequel to this article, you will be able to tell them about your plan for 2016.
In the next article, I will explain why it is hard to keep your New Year’s resolutions. I will also provide strategies to help you keep them in order to ensure that at the end of 2016 you will be satisfied with your year.