In January you probably set some goals for yourself, but now it’s December. Do you feel confident that you did what you said you’d do? How do you know?
The end of the year is a time to reflect back on all that you’ve done over the past 12 months and to become excited for the next year to come. This applies to the professional world just as much as the personal. Did you accomplish all of those strategic goals that were given to you at the beginning of the year? When you look back, did you meet all of your deadlines, or did you have to push some of your work off into the New Year? Will you be able to go to bed on December 31st confident that every piece of information you deal with daily had been packaged up, organized, and completely taken care of? No loose ends? Did you write one professional article each month like I said I would…
Wait, did I say I? I meant you, totally you.
If the answer is no, then you’re pretty much on point with the rest of the world.
You see, the funny thing is that we all start our year out with lofty goals and the energy and motivation to achieve them. All of us! But very few of our Decembers look like what we dreamed of in January.
So when do we lose that motivation? How does it get to be December, and you haven’t achieved what you set out to do, or our careers haven’t progressed like we planned?
It’s really quite simple actually.
The three questions I ask myself are; What happened? When? and Why?
Too Simple right? They are obvious questions that you probably don’t even really feel the need to continue reading about. But here’s the thing….
Did you actually ask yourself these questions?
Often times we don’t meet the goals we set out to accomplish, and instead of figuring out what happened, when, and why… we just move on to making new goals. New Goals are great and all, but if you didn’t meet your first set of goals, and you didn’t figure out why, chances are you will be in the same situation come next December.
So let’s look at the value of reflection before we move on to making those new goals.
You started out motivated, maybe you even had a plan on how you were going to accomplish your goal, but at some point in the year things changed. Perhaps a big project came up in March and threw off your timeline. Perhaps you gave it priority over your timeline and just never returned to it. About half way through the year, you began to feel overwhelmed, just surviving each new project until the next one, catching yourself in a never-ending loop of the same tasks, over and over again.
You start to think “If I can just make it to January I can start over again.”
Or maybe you were right on track, everything was going great, you were ahead of schedule – so you took on some extra work. It went great so you took on some more. You said yes to everything because you felt invincible! Then your invincibility took a turn, and somehow you went from superhero to damsel in distress overnight. The 110% quality that you started your year out with is now being divided across 7 different business partners, and you’re delivering 15.71% to each of them… that’ll be GREAT for your career.
“Next year will be better.”
In any scenario, something happened at a certain or maybe uncertain time, and there was a reason for it happening. In most cases, the plan was changed when the plan didn’t leave any room to be changed. And when that happens…. Poof. Good-bye plan. Good-bye goals. Hello stress.
But reflecting on what happened tells you one very important thing. What NOT to do again.
So, pull out that strategic plan that you created in January, grab a coffee, sit back, and take a good look at your past year. Which goals did you achieve and which fell through the cracks? Why did you let them fall through the cracks? Were they not as important? Maybe they shouldn’t have been a goal in the first place?
Notate when you began to feel that invincibility, what led to it? When exactly did your goals fall apart? What was your workload like before and after those points? How much of that was within your control?
Maybe your year was doomed from the start. Perhaps you never quite made a plan of how you were going to accomplish something, you just said… by the end of the year, I’m going to be CEO! Could there have been a couple of steps you would have needed to take that you could have mapped out? Would those steps take more than a year to accomplish? (I can pretty confidently say yes on this one).
If you could do it all over again (I’m looking at you, January) what would you do differently?
These pitfalls offer invaluable information that can only come from reflecting on what has already happened. So pull out the end-of-year reports, check those client reviews, and look hard at your personal career goals. By knowing what happened, when it happened and why… next December’s reflection may look much different. You’ll be able to make a true strategic plan for the next 12 months and all of the 12 months going forward that navigates these pitfalls.
The goal is to answer “YES!” to all of the questions above. And then throw a mini-dance party each time you do (Unless that’s just me. That could totally be just me.)
Well, that’s a question for another article.
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