As a new year begins, many (most?) professionals will return from vacations, family gatherings, and other time off with a vague sense that some things might have happened toward the end of last year, some might have been completed, and some might be left outstanding. Instead of plowing right into the latest and loudest post-holiday madness, here are some simple tips, tricks, and questions to ask to reflect on the end of the previous year.
Tip 1: Begin by considering the year, simultaneously, through the lenses of all the roles you play. There is rarely a real need to differentiate between personal, professional, volunteer, work, fun, etc., roles. There’s just you…something we often forget. If you need help getting all the lenses, take thirty seconds to make a short list of all the roles you play in life (remember from prior posts, you get more out of this if you play along!).
Tip 2: Instead of reflecting on all the incompletes and “didn’t go as planneds” from last year, start with wins. What did work, get completed, go well last year? Consider some or all of the following:
- List major wins for the year (write them down so you can see the collective value created)
- Consider sources of gratitude from the last year
- Consider risks you took that paid off or that failed but gave you valuable data for future risks
- Consider service you gave to others: who, when, why, what was the impact?
- Consider completions: what are you happiest about completing last year? What did that take?
- Review important relationships: what people had the greatest impact on you last year? How and why? How can you create more of those experiences in the future?
- Consider surprises: what most surprised you last year? Why? What can that teach you?
Tip 3: Review Incompletes. Don’t just let the year end, go back over incomplete items to determine if they still need attention to completion or if they can be eliminated with a clean conscience. Think about the following:
- What business, tasks, goals, projects, or ideas are still unfinished from last year? For each, what do you want to do about it (e.g. complete it, change your approach, pursue a different goal, delete it and move on…)?
- What compliment would you like to have received last year? Given? What can you still do about those items?
- What do you still need to think about, clarify, or act upon to create a sense of completion for the last year?
Tip 4: Summarize the Year. Ask yourself one simple question: “what word or short phrase best sums up the year I had?” How, then, does that align with your initial goals, themes, plans, and ideas for the last year. What do any gaps tell you in preparing for the new and future years?
A few simple tips and questions to think about to bring some closure to the last year and prepare a clean slate for the new. This exercise won’t take more than ten minutes but can be more involved and elaborate if you need or want it to for a sense of closure.
Our next post will discuss “resolutions” and approaches to entering the new year proactively.
“It is always important to know when something has reached its end. Closing circles, shutting doors, finishing chapters, it doesn’t matter what we call it; what matters is to leave in the past those moments in life that are over.”
― Paulo Coelho
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