Here we are. At the end of another year. Perhaps you are busy closing last-minute business deals or running around doing errands and buying presents, typical during this holiday season. Or you may be feeling lazy and exhausted, dragging yourself around waiting for the next challenge or project to come.
To be honest, I am currently fitting into that second category. Already on vacation back home, 33-weeks pregnant and about to go on maternity leave, I have been struggling in the past days to get productive and to feel energized.
Either way, this is the right time to honor this year by performing a detailed review. Regardless of your busyness or laziness, make sure you block the time in your calendar to sit down and do it. You might try to convince yourself that such a thorough assessment is unnecessary. You have it engraved in your brain, you can name all your shortcomings and successes by heart. A trick your brain is playing on you, I can tell you!
Our memory has its own flaws, plus we tend to value negative experiences and mistakes more than positive outcomes. This is one of the reasons why you should perform your end of the year balance, trying to be as objective and truthful as possible.
Performing your end of year’s review is not about commiseration or self-judgement. At the beginning of the year, you have made a commitment to yourself. No matter how you have defined it – new year resolutions, yearly theme, main goal, purpose – it deserves to be honored. You deserve to be celebrated through your efforts, determination, focus.
In case you have kept to the 3-step approach we have addressed here on the blog, this review is the third and last step. It started with defining your yearly theme(s) including the set of concrete goals and timeline at the beginning of 2021, followed by measuring your progress halfway apart from the recurrent assessments throughout the year.
Let us drill down by considering the following 5 strategies to help you perform an efficient review and get ready to welcome the upcoming year.
1. Write a self-reflection: If journaling is one of your habits, you are already well acquainted with this activity. In addition, the practice of meditation or mindfulness is extremely helpful to develop the mindset for a deeper reflection. Before coming to facts and figures, it is equally relevant to provide space to your emotions and feelings. Your gut feel is a powerful tool when it comes to self-reflection. How do feel about this year that comes now to an end? What emotions are triggered if you think about the last 12 months? What we concretely achieve is as much significant as how we feel about these achievements. It may happen that after ticking all the boxes next to your goals, there is still a sense of frustration or disappointment. Take this opportunity to write down your own evaluation regarding the goals you have defined in the beginning of the year, especially focusing on your level of fulfillment and any other feelings which may come through. Be honest, be open. You are writing it for yourself, no one else.
2. List your achievements: After your self-reflection and with it the chance to get out of the system any heavier or less positive feelings, it is time to shift your focus to the hard facts. Looking closely at your goals, from the smaller to the most ambitious, go ahead and track all that you have accomplished. If available, tick all the goals you have achieved one by one, including adding to the list any additional goals you have set afterwards. Do not pay so much attention to the number of goals, it is not a competition to see who scored higher. Rather, take a moment to recognize the efforts, dedication, willpower, resilience that took you to see them through. They represent your sweat and tears, your perseverance, your belief in yourself despite the many hurdles and challenges. Honor how much you have accomplished by recognizing each goal individually as well as the collective, meaning its contribution to the big picture.
3. Evaluate your approach: Regardless of the advice we get, of what we read, watch, learn from others; we have our own way to assimilate information and put it into practice. The same way we develop our own methods and techniques when it comes to our personal development and growth. Taking into consideration the goals you have defined in the beginning of the year and how you got to achieved them, what kind of approach or mix of approaches are you able to identify? Perhaps time management is one of your strengths and scheduling your tasks and responsibilities into your calendar kept you motivated and on track. Maybe visualization work well for you, so you kept a vision board including your goals, timeline, deadlines. On top of these or other methodologies, your morning and/or evening routines may have contributed greatly. We could be here listing endless approaches, though what truly matters is for you to identify what worked for you as well as what did not work. From this perspective, do more of what has been working so far.
4. Identify areas for improvement: Perfection is an illusion. We have things we are great at and others that we are not skilled for. And that is perfectly fine! The same way what we should play to our strengths every chance we get to develop them further; we must recognize where we still have space to learn and evolve. Therefore, a self-assessment is also useful to acknowledge individual strengths as well as areas for improvement. Providing feedback to others is as much relevant as giving feedback to yourself. Perhaps not all your goals have been achieved and if so, can you identify the root cause? It may have been lack of commitment, but it could have also been related to the absence of specific skills. Knowing exactly which areas are not your forte, allows you to search for ways to approach a new challenge next time. It could be attending a training, expanding your network, explore different literary themes, working with a coach. Improvement means invariably an opportunity for growth.
5. Get closure: In every end, there is also a beginning. Before quickly closing the door on the year that ends, it is wise to perform a review. This is indeed what we have been referring to in the above-mentioned points. On the other hand, having closure is key to move forward. No need to close the year with regrets or feelings of frustration and disappointment. Honoring the past is also knowing when to let go of (theme to follow up in more detail next week). Going back is not possible and dwelling on the past will not do you any good. In order to welcome the new year, including the endless possibilities ahead of you, allow yourself to get closure about what you have not accomplished, what has not happened, what went against your expectations. Close this year’s chapter before starting a new one by showing compassion and kindness to yourself.
2021 was not any easier than its precedent year. Uncertainty and adversity were still much present in most of our minds and our lives. What has been also there since the beginning – even if disguised – is OPPORTUNITY. A chance to shift perspectives, to find new ways, to reinvent oneself. An opportunity to look beyond what is seen, to question beyond what is said, to grow beyond one’s limiting beliefs.
How your year starts, develops and ends depends on you. Every piece of the puzzle may not be available where, when, and how you expected. However, you still get to decide where you go, when to start the journey and how to get there.