It’s very trendy to shun all things resolute this time of year. After all, attempting to improve yourself shouldn’t be a once-a-year activity. On the other hand, the end of a year is the perfect time for reflection. It’s a chance to take stock of how we’re doing, professionally and personally, physically and emotionally. And what we find can help inform our goals for next year.
As impact coach Katie Sandler tells Fast Company, “If we don’t look back, how do we move forward?” Sandler suggests you start looking back by asking yourself these questions:
1. What were three to four highs and three to four lows? This is where you start taking inventory and building awareness, she says.
2. What enabled or motivated you to reach those highs, and how did you successfully move through the lows?
3. What worked and didn’t work? In other words, what do you need to do more or less of?
4. What stressed you out the most, and how could you navigate it better?
5. And, most important, what were you most grateful for in 2019, and how can you take that into 2020?
Start with your “lows”
Every night that my husband, son and I sit around the dinner table together, we say our “highs and lows” from the day. One really good thing that happened and one thing that bummed us out. I like to start with my “low” so that I can end my turn on a positive note. And that’s what I suggest you do as you look back on 2019.
Even if you had a truly great year, there were sure to have been some speed bumps along the way. Consider any professional set-backs, major conflicts with family members or friends, or physical ailments you endured. If you successfully navigated through those lows, how did you do it? Or how could you have handled difficult situations better? Take a few moments to consider how well you operated in the face of adversity.
Now, what were your highs?
On the flip side, even if you had an epically shitty year, something must have gone right. Think about the relationships in your life that became stronger. What did you excel at in your career? What new positive habits did you manage to stick with this year? Maybe you are you finally getting enough sleep or drinking more water or prioritising other types of self care.
Jot down notes about each highlight from the year—why was it important to you, what was the catalyst for reaching it, and are there ways to replicate that success in other areas of your life? Give yourself some time to relish all the good you experienced this year.
Maybe 2019 was the year you wanted to write your first book; instead, you only managed to bang out half of a rough manuscript. That’s half more of a manuscript than you started with! Progress is still positive, even if you haven’t crossed the finish line.
Think about the goals you started the year with (it’s especially helpful if you actually wrote them down) and celebrate any steps you took toward those goals. Consider what habits or practices motivated you and how you can expand on those next year to make even more progress.
The take-aways from your year-end review should be less about where you went right or where you went wrong; it’s more important to glean what you learned. Reflecting on what you learned can help guide you toward making more practical goals or resolutions for the new year and mapping out how to reach them.
Editor’s note: At press time, the original link to the Fast Company article appears to be broken.