Another year is ending but before we go, it is time to stop and take advantage of the two opportunities that transition brings.
First, we need to review the past year and evaluate our performance. In fact, it doesn’t hurt to take a little extra time and review the past decade. That will be challenging if you are anything like me and can hardly remember what you did last hour let alone over the course of the last 10 years. But looking back gives us so much perspective from which we can then look forward. We can learn much from that exercise. It can be a significant help in putting together a course of change, an opportunity to tweak things just a bit, or a validation that we should continue doing what we did this year into next year.
Here are some potential questions to ask:
- What big things happened? Did they happen because you made a knowing, concerted effort to make them happen? Or did they just happen?
- What good things happened?
- What bad things happened?
- What was your biggest triumph?
- What was the smartest decision you made?
- What one word best sums up and describes your experience?
- What was the greatest lesson you learned?
- What was the most powerful service you performed?
- What is your biggest piece of unfinished business?
- What are you most happy about completing?
- Who were the three people that had the greatest impact on your life?
- What was the biggest risk you took?
- What was the biggest surprise?
- What important relationship improved the most?
- What else do you need to do or say to be complete?
- What lessons did you learn from these things?
Our second opportunity is to create a course for the new year. We get a fresh start, a chance to begin all over again. It is a chance to make a difference in the direction we’re headed in, and ultimately our success.
Consider these questions about the coming year:
- Do you want to read more?
- Do you want to learn new skills?
- Do you want to spend more time with certain people?
- Do you want to run a race? Climb a mountain? Learn a new language?
- What kind of person do you want to be?
- Who do you want to meet?
- How much money do you want to be able to give away?
- What would you like to be your biggest triumph?
- What advice would you like to give yourself?
- What is the major effort you are planning to make in order to improve your financial results?
- What would you be most happy about completing?
- What major indulgence are you willing to experience?
- What would you most like to change about yourself?
- What are you looking forward to learning?
- What do you think your biggest risk will be?
- What is one as yet undeveloped talent you are willing to explore?
- What brings you the most joy and how are you going to do or have more of that?
- Who or what, other than yourself, are you most committed to loving and serving?
- What one word would you like to have as your theme?
• Do you want to have more time? • Do you want to go places? With whom? In what fashion?
The key is to stop long enough to do some meaningful reflection and review of how the year really was in 2018. Did you achieve your goals? Did you accomplish all you had intended? If not, what were the blockers? Put down on paper your evaluation – you won’t remember it if you don’t. And put down on paper your plan for next year. Share it with your spouse, your employees, and others that need to be part of holding you accountable. It likely won’t be accomplished if you don’t share it broadly for accountability.
One of the most valuable things we can get from the past is lessons we learn, often the hard way. But if we don’t record them we often have to learn them over and over and there is no sense in that. So create a place to store those year-end evaluations and reflections, and review the learnings often. If you had a business plan for the year – that is the place to start. Which things were you successful with and which came up a bit short. That is important as you chart the course for the new year. If you had a leadership or life plan, you need to do the same with those. Make sure you evaluate how you did in comparison to the goals you set and write what you learned. Have the blockers been removed yet, or do you need to find a way around them? There is so much you can learn by just stopping and evaluating.
And ultimately, the question is how did last year impact my legacy plan? Was I intentional in what I did? Did I make any progress toward what I want to leave behind? Our legacy will happen whether we plan it and work towards that plan or not. The question really is – do you want to control what your legacy looks like or are you content to just let it happen and not care about the result? We need to do a much better job of being intentional about legacy, and what we leave behind for those that will come after us.
You have an opportunity to chart a new year ahead. But before you do, make sure you stop and learn all you can from the past. We should never dwell on where we have been. But we certainly should not ignore the value of what we can learn from the past either. Much of what happens is based on how well you prepare and plan. Then it comes down to EXECUTION! I wish you success in 2019!