As the holidays start and this year comes to an end, I want to stress the importance of celebrating your accomplishments over the past year and using journaling as your self-reflective process to help with this.
At the end of each year, I always write articles like Reflect, celebrate and plan for the New Year in which I recommend reviewing the past twelve months, reflecting on what you have accomplished – and, of course, celebrating! And when I say ‘what you have accomplished’ – I don’t mean huge things like winning a Nobel prize. It doesn’t have to be a major outcome achieved; even taking a step along the way, or a milestone reached deserves recognition and celebration. And success is all relative. As leaders, we are used to aiming high and often have great expectations of ourselves. But realistically, at times, just getting out of bed is an accomplishment! No matter the outcome or size of the result, if you know you’ve done well under whatever circumstances – congratulate yourself. Regardless of the scale of your achievements, acknowledge them, applaud yourself, and celebrate!
Positive Self-Reflective Journaling
Whatever mood you’re in and whatever challenges you have faced, taking stock of your achievements is a great way to feel uplifted and positive. And a good way to start is by journaling or making a note of all those accomplishments. Remember to maintain a growth mindset. If there’s something you haven’t got right, you can learn from any mistakes, turn them into development points and put your learning into practice for future success. Even a negative can be a positive learning experience.
If you have not done so already, download this resource on how to start your own self-reflective practice. To start your stocktaking and begin the process of reflective practice, take a notebook, or open a document, and begin to review your year by identifying your accomplishments.
Recollect all the good things you’ve done and experienced – and take the time to congratulate yourself and find a way to celebrate. This gets you in the right mindset to clear the decks, refreshing your focus ready for goal-setting and planning for the new year.
This can be the a regular part of your routine – something you can do not only at the end of a year, but at the end of any period of time. The end of a month, a week, or even a day. This then becomes a reflective journal, rather than a one-off exercise.
Let’s look at your accomplishments around a number of themes or domains of your life, in relation to: work, home, social, connecting, and personal or ‘self’.
What Happened at Work?
All too often, we are so busy working, progressing and moving on to the next tasks, we forget to celebrate our own successes. But as well as a feel-good exercise, self-reflection is a fundamental leadership skill. Think about all the things you’ve done since January – projects, people, partnerships, leadership, meetings, difficult conversations, challenges, innovations, tasks completed or milestones met.
In the last year:
- What were your greatest accomplishments at work? You may even want to list one month by month.
- What was your most important learning from work this past year?
- How will you use this learning moving forward?
For some specific reflection prompts, see Making Time for Your Leadership Self-Reflection.
How was Home?
Many driven professionals forget to acknowledge the importance of what they accomplish at home. But now is your chance to congratulate yourself on all the things you’ve done – big or small – with your partner, family and at home. Take some time to consider what you have achieved there over the last year, for example – decorating the house, cooking meals, setting up a home office, helping the kids with their homework, walking the dog, organizing a family party or holiday.
- What was your greatest accomplishment at home?
- What was your proudest achievement or proudest moment at home?
What’s The Status of Your Social Circles?
Think of your social accomplishments – either amongst your social group of friends, or in your local community or wider society – for the greater good. Things like: organizing to meet friends for drinks or dinner, attending or running community classes or courses, volunteering, campaigning for a good cause, donating to charity.
- What did you accomplish in your social circles that made you proud?
- How did this contribution make you feel?
- What would you like to bring forward into 2022?
How Did You Care For Yourself?
In our busy world, it’s important to take time and care for yourself. This includes developing greater self-knowledge through coaching, therapy, education, training or reading. Self-care can range from getting sufficient rest, relaxation and sleep to developing a healthy lifestyle – exercise (gym, swimming, walking, sport), nutrition (diet and healthy eating), and managing stress through practices like yoga, meditation, listening to music. You may also have taken time or action for developing other skills or knowledge through practical tasks or creativity like art and craft or playing instruments.
- In what ways did you care for yourself throughout the year? What felt the most generative and/or nourishing?
- What did you say no to in order to say yes to you?
- What self-care practice would you recommend to a friend who you wanted to help?
Once you have answered these questions in all five domains, you can be proud of yourself! Now, consider:
- Which of your accomplishments from 2021 are you going to celebrate? (All, if you like!)
- How are you going to celebrate them?
- Toast them – and yourself – with a glass of wine!
- Take some time for yourself with a fragrant candlelit bath, music, uninterrupted reading time or a walk in the park
- Have a celebratory dinner or party
- Donate to charity
- Ask your friends/ family to reflect on their successes and share the celebration
- Add positive qualities, skills and achievements to your CV or LinkedIn profile.
If you don’t already do it, I highly recommend you to develop a regular practice of self-reflection, and celebrate throughout the year. This website contains similar articles like Celebrate your Whole Self, if you’d like to know more.
Now, you can take your answers from the prompts above and use them to positively influence your planning and progress, as you go forward into 2022.
Congratulations. You made it to the end of another year. Be proud of yourself – and celebrate!
Please feel free to download my new resource Designing Your Leadership Self-Reflection Practice – Guided Writing Prompts – packed with tips, tools, and guided prompts to launch your leadership self-reflection practice as you continue to strengthen your leadership.
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