Between holiday parties, tying up loose ends for business, and trying to make elusive fitness goals for the new year, we often forget an important part of our year-end activities: taking time to reflect on the past months and plan — meaningfully — for the next few.
I encourage you to pause and look back before you dive forward into 2020. Make yourself a cup of tea and invest in yourself – do a careful audit of the recent past that’s based in facts and free of judgement.
So in place of lofty New Year’s resolutions that are often unrealistic, consider instead taking the following steps:
The end of the year is an ideal time to look back on the last 12 months — what it was like at the start, what happened, and where you are now. Much like a content audit, a reflection is all about gathering the facts without passing judgement over them. The point of an end-of-year reflection is not to chastise yourself for goals you did not accomplish. It is to see how you and your business have changed over time for better, worse, and everything in between.
For example, at the start of 2019, my company was growing rapidly and my team at Web Marketing Therapy really needed more staff support, and it was affecting everyone, including myself, negatively. That was a fact I had to take a long, hard look at in order to move forward. Over the last 12 months, we have added members to our team and watched business grow and become more productive as a result. We would never have reached this point if not for that initial pause.
Your reflection should focus on your personal progress, too. After all, you are the vehicle driving the business. If you’re not in optimal working condition (more on that in a minute), everything else will suffer. That includes not just day-to-day tasks but client relationships, your work-life balance, and, let’s face it, probably your sanity.
A long reflection of the last 12 months can help you understand if your business still aligns with your overall value, values, and voice. If it doesn’t, you may find yourself needing to make some changes.
Let me give you a real-life example.
Coming into 2019, I was coming out of a complete F.O.G.:
fear, obligation, and guilt.
I was overworked, overcommitted, and, really, just over it. It took a car crash for me to realize all of this (a crash due to real life fog), but you don’t have to be in physical danger to be motivated to take the next right step. Had I just temporarily paused my day-to-day obligations (work, volunteer gigs, etc.), I would have seen immediately that changing my bloated schedule was the thing needed to get me out of my F.O.G. — for the sake of myself, my family and my business.
Perhaps you’re not in a total F.O.G. but you realize you need to drop one of your non-work commitments in order to get more sleep at night. Or maybe your bookkeeping resembles a medieval clerk’s desk and you’re leaving some money on the table. Whether your reflections lead you to major decisions like moving to a new city or something as simple as buying a subscription to an accounting tool doesn’t matter. The point is, you’ve taken the time to reflect on the facts, which will help set you up for success in the new year.
This one often gets left off year-end lists. I cannot stress enough how important it is to celebrate the things you have accomplished over the last year before you head into the new one.
Like reflection and planning for the future, celebrating should be about both your work life and your home life. You should feel equally proud of striking a lucrative deal with a new client and mastering a hobby or getting more in touch with your spiritual life.
We often measure success by the things we can see: money, homes, cars.
Often, though, the things most worth celebrating are the ones we can’t put our hands on. Take a little time to celebrate those intangible assets as you head into the new year.