“It is necessary ... for a man to go away by himself ... to sit on a rock ... and ask, 'Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?” – Carl Sandburg
As this year winds down and New Year’s Eve gets closer and closer, many people start thinking about the upcoming year and they set New Year resolutions. However, many people skip a very important part about setting resolutions – reflecting back on the year. How could you set goals without looking at your most recent accomplishments and failures? In college, I had a professor who always stressed the importance of reflection, but at the time, I don’t think any of us fully grasped the idea at the time, but I am grateful now for it sticking in my mind.
Reflection is integral in planning for your future because you can realize what worked and what didn’t. What you enjoyed and what you didn’t enjoy. You don’t want to waste your time and do something wrong again, do you? Ain’t nobody got time for that!
So how do you reflect? Well, it can be done in different ways to be honest – everyone is different. However, if you follow these basic steps, you’ll be on the right path.
Make time for it – Can’t do it if you don’t have time for it, right? Since reflection is something easily forgotten, it’s even easier to not make time for it. Whether it’s simply sitting on your patio, sitting in your room or driving in your car, you can find time for it. It doesn't need to be anywhere fancy; it just needs to be somewhere you can think.
Remember the bad – I prefer to start with the bad almost always because you get to end on what went well! Whether it was a project which didn’t go smoothly or not getting a client you really wanted, it’s important to think went wrong. And I’m not talking about copping out and making excuses, but really think about why it didn’t go well. See if there are any similarities in what went wrong. This will help you realize places you need to grow. Yes…you need to grow. No matter how awesome you think you are, there is always something to improve on.
Remember the good – Now for the fun part. Remembering how awesome you were this past year. I don’t care how small of a victory it was, if it was good, remember it. Remember how hard you worked for it. Remember what you did right. Any adversary you overcame. Lastly, remember why it was important to you in the first place. If you can identify why something is important to you, then you can try to set similar accomplishments in the future.
It’s honestly that easy to reflect. 1…2…3…
By reflecting, you can look forward to the New Year in the best way possible – knowing where you came from the year before. In the world we live in, you don’t have time to not learn from your successes and your failures. You can learn plenty from both, but if you don’t bother to reflect you won’t learn from either.