As I always do at this time of year, I recommend that we reflect on the past year and all we have achieved and accomplished, before looking to the future and confirming our intentions for the year ahead. You have an excellent opportunity to step back, take a breath (or 10), think about your achievements, and celebrate them. Let’s contemplate, assess, and revel in the journey.
To facilitate this process, I am sharing an updated version my “Design the Year You Want!” workbook – a step-by-step guide to assist you in reviewing the year we are bringing to a close so that you can bring intention as you design the future you want. This download includes practical exercises with coaching questions and templates – all designed to make your reflection, learning and design process more generative. It aims to help you align with your values, tap into your inner resourcefulness, and set your intentions for the new year. Whether you call them ‘new year’s resolutions’ or ‘goals’, the key is to bring intentionality to what matters, including how you will tend to what and who matters.
I do this exercise every year. It allows me to identify and savor what went well so I can celebrate (and learn from) my successes, and equally reflect on what didn’t work out so well so that I can use this intelligence and bring more choicefulnesss moving forward. The second part of this process allows me use this intelligence and tap into my values as I bring intention to the year ahead and decide where and how to focus on that which matters, including myself. I really can’t recommend it enough. And, enriched by your own input and responses, it serves as a practical guide to help you to prepare and plan what is important for your year ahead. I encourage you to explore the exercises you’ll find there, because they offer you the gifts of self-reflection, insight, and learning.
This month, I’d like us to concentrate on the sections of the workbook that help us to look back over the last year, acknowledging our accomplishments and learnings and marking them with some kind of celebratory activity. It is the festive season after all!
The exercises in the workbook will help you to get in your most authentic and resourceful frame of mind to map out your next steps. You’ll begin by reflecting on your past year, and will be basically answering these questions:
- What went well?
- What did you learn?
- How will you celebrate your successes and learnings?
But check out my coaching questions in Design the Year You Want! to ease you into the process and help you drill down into the detail.
To acknowledge your achievements, we will start with taking an inventory of your accomplishments and learnings from the past year. If this year has been a challenging one, you can still celebrate getting this far: just recognizing your resilience and the lessons you have learned is enough cause for celebration.
No Failure – Only Feedback
In my experience as a leadership coach (and as a human!), we often neglect celebrating and learning from our successes and we are even less likely to congratulate ourselves on the valuable insights we gain from our perceived ‘failures’. Many of us hesitate to acknowledge our learnings from these, let alone integrating them and honouring our growth from the experience. But moving forward doesn’t just mean leaving the past behind – it also means acknowledging the things we have accomplished through the good and the bad, and appreciating our lessons learned.
Now, this holiday time, treat yourself to the gift of time to reflect. Take your foot off the gas, acknowledge who and where you are, note your accomplishments, and strategize the most effective way to reach your goals. How do you want to feel as you navigate your life and leadership, aligned with your values and principles?
I’m sharing a toolkit I’ve crafted to aid you in revisiting your external and internal experiences. You will explore your experiences and feelings to inform your future planning. It’s a guide to empower you to lead and live intentionally, not by accident.
Here’s what you can expect:
YOUR YEAR IN REVIEW To kickstart your preparation for future planning, I ask some questions to help you reflect on the past year, acknowledging your accomplishments and celebrating them. Regardless of any challenges you have faced, embracing the learning enhances your knowledge, skills, strength, and understanding.
HONORING YOUR TRUTH – here, we identify your true feelings and desires, exploring questions about your desired self, how you want to be present in the world, and what contributions you want to make. It also involves clarifying your values, to help align your life and actions with what’s important to you.
After this reflection, you can celebrate – ready to bring intention to how you move forward as you design the year you want.
Celebration feels good – it’s a way of recognizing ourselves and our efforts. It also serves as a way to reinforce that effort – whether that be in the form of accomplishment, trial and error, learning, habits, or systems that we put place as we move through the world. We want to recognize and celebrate our effort.
Celebrate your accomplishments in a way that resonates with you. I’ve written a great deal on small (and large) ways to celebrate, in:
Acknowledging and honouring your effort and learning is a crucial step in personal growth and development – and is a vital part of your self-care. You can also extend this to your team and use the exercises with your direct reports and their staff.
As we prepare to embrace a new year, we’re not just creating a fresh narrative – we are also referring to our past, for key learnings and context, as we design our future.
In Part 2: It’s Time to Design the Year You Want, we will look closer at how to use all these insights as part of your intentional planning.
Wishing you a happy look back and celebration!
If you’d like more, please feel free to download 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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