As we approach the end of another year, our thoughts can easily turn to next year’s goals and commitments. Those who know we well know I’m not a fan of New Year’s resolutions, for a whole host of reasons.
Resolutions aside, January 1st presents everyone with the opportunity for a fresh start – which can feel great.
But let’s not allow this year to fade away without taking some valuable lessons from it. We’ve had over 300 days of life experience to draw on – wouldn’t it be a shame to miss out on learning from it all? In a recent Community Plus workshop, we looked at the benefits of planning for the year to come before this year ends. Let’s take a look at some of the most important points.
With the year nearly over, we can look back over almost twelve months of life and reflect on how it all went. Learning from this year can help us avoid repeating mistakes next year, avoid jumping on bandwagons when it comes to resolutions or wading into new commitments with the kind of optimism that only come from a blatant disregard for life up to this point in time.
Reflecting on the year gone by
Looking back over a year can seem like quite the task. Admittedly, it will be a lot easier if you’ve been taking the time to work through a weekly review regularly. If you haven’t all is not lost! You can use the following questions to structure your review.
1. Wins: What went well for you this year? What are you proud of? What did you achieve? How did you bring your skills, knowledge and other attributes to life in intentional ways? What did you enjoy the most?
2. Issues: We all know that life isn’t always plane sailing. So what didn’t go so well this year? How did you deal with these challenges and setbacks? How happy are you with the results? And (difficult question) to what extent did you contribute to your own problems?
3. Enlightenment: Thinking back over the last twelve months, what have you learnt about yourself? Consider your personality preferences and thinking, your skills, your relationships and your goals. How about your wellbeing? Your resilience? What have you learnt about others? About how the world works?
4. Pivots: Reflecting on the wins and issues you’ve identified, as well as what you’ve learnt this year, what will you do differently in the year ahead? What kind of changes to you want to make in your life? Is it something career focused? An aspect of your personal life? A hobby, a relationship, a skill? What changes are most likely to add some content to the ‘Wins’ column in next year’s review?
Putting these lessons into action
Consider what you want to do differently? Rather than just note it as a bullet point, ask yourself whether it’s a goal you can work towards. Or is it better thought of as a new habit? Alternatively, is there a goal you want to reach, but it might take the cultivation of some new habits to get there?
If it’s a goal, make sure you don’t fall into some of these common pitfalls when it comes to goal-setting. Make your goals SMARTER (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-bound, Exciting and Re-visited).
Don’t forget that January 1st isn’t a magical day where this all has to start. You can make a start on your new habits before the new year rolls in. Or you can wait for a few weeks later, until life has settled down. The key thing is to be realistic and take note of both your previous attempts at change and your personal circumstances.
Don’t look to others for how to handle these things – social comparison is a quick route to feeling not good enough. Track your own personal journey towards the changes you’ve identified.
Finally, remember that maintenance is always an option! You don’t need to do anything new, demanding or special. You can continue into next year working on you without stretch goals.