Just as Thanksgiving provides an opportunity to focus on gratitude, the end of the year provides an opportunity to assess what went right and what went wrong during the year. All of us will wrap up the year with a general sense of how we thought the year went. Some of us experienced a tremendously wonderful 2016. Whether it was very productive or it was the year we did “X”, we will come away with positive feelings about our year. Some of us experienced a very challenging year. Whether we were dealt some cards that didn’t feel fair or had to deal with some hardships, we are glad we survived and very much looking forward to shedding 2016 for 2017.
In either case, just accepting a general sense for the year and moving on may not do much to set you up for success in the coming year. To quote Marie Florio, “There is a lot of unleveraged wisdom to be mined from the past twelve months, if you know how to find it.”
While we often dread doing a “year in review” type of exercise, Marie shares 3 powerful questions you can ask to set yourself up for your best year yet.
1. What did you do during the year that you are most proud of?
So, what did you do, create, or experience this year that you are really proud of and write it or them down. It doesn’t matter if its big or small, known to the world or only to you, it counts. If you are having problems coming up with things, flip back through your calendar to see the projects you worked on, the clients you worked with, the trips you experienced, etc. I bet you will come up with much more than originally thought.
Go on to provide some specifics around those things. Why are you proud of them? How do they make you feel? How can you build off of them for next year? Let your victories set in. Really digest them and use them to fuel the next twelve months.
2. What’s one mistake you made and the lesson you learned?
Mistakes or wrong steps are always difficult to reflect on because it feels so raw when they happen. However, mistakes are there to teach us and to guide us. Reflecting on our mistakes is easier at the end of the year because time and distance allow us to do so without our ego getting in the way. Now that you are less emotionally attached to what happened, ask yourself what it taught you and think about how you can leverage what you learned moving forward.
3. What’s one story you are willing to let go of before the New Year?
Unlike my mother, I love to purge the stuff we don’t need any longer from our house. It leaves me with a sense of freedom and lightness that I love. (Now, if I could just stop buying so many unnecessary things, then I wouldn’t have to purge so much, right?) Think about how purging translates to the other areas of your life. What are you willing to let go of for 2017? Is there resentment, anger, hurt, guilt, shame you need to let go? Are there projects, commitments, relationships that should no longer have a place in your life? Are there stories that no longer serve you, that are actually disempowering you, that you recognize need to go?
Trees let their dead leaves drop for a reason. Without shedding what is no longer useful, they cannot bloom in the Spring. What are the things you need to let go of in order to fully bloom?
I just loved these three questions when I saw them from Marie and had to share. They are simple yet so powerful. And the answers will allow you to start next year strong and from a place of intention.
I’ll end this post with a quote from Marie’s video on this subject. The quote is from Margaret Wheatley. And she says, “without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.”
Use these three questions to create intentional consequences and to achieve your best year yet.