As this year draws to a close, we may look back on 2017 as a year of upheaval, natural disasters and political unrest. A tough year for many. However, should old acquaintance be forgot – it was also the year that saw the rise of artificial intelligence and BitCoin, a year offering innovation, hope and celebration.

How was 2017, for you, personally and professionally?

What better time is there to stop, reflect and evaluate, than at the end of one year, and the start of the next? So how about using these reflections and leveraging your lessons and planning for 2018!

Reflecting on the past and taking stock helps us to evaluate our lives and careers, enabling us to move forward with more confidence into 2018. It also provides a solid baseline from which to firm up our vision and goals, and put plans in place to achieve them, from here on. In this way, we can create our own positive future.

Clients often seek a coach because they want to improve their performance or productivity and get better results. Some have problems they need help to solve. Coming from a deficit mentality – in which they recognise areas that need improvement, virtually all my coaching clients have trouble remembering what they do well!

For many of my coaching clients, being deeply ‘in’ a problem, makes it hard to see a solution. But rather than looking at all the things that are wrong, brooding on the negative, we need to focus with positivity on what we do want, instead. This enables solution-focused thinking.

My coaching clients don’t spend enough time celebrating their successes. And even if they have heard of the phrase ‘there’s no failure – only feedback’, they are even less likely to celebrate the learning they derive from any perceived failure.

The end of year is a great time to take stock. Identify where you are and what you have accomplished, with a view to examining if you are still on track and/or need to make changes.  It’s a good time to decide on the direction you want to go in (if you haven’t already) and to prepare new year’s resolutions or career goals to make life better – for yourself, your organisation, and your clients or service users. Then, ready for 2018, you can start again – fresh, and focused.

I’d like to invite you to consider these questions, as part of a process to help you celebrate what you’ve done well, learn from any underperformance, and focus on the future.

Taking Stock

Looking back on 2017, what have you achieved?

Hints: for example, did you:

  • meet targets?
  • generate revenue, increase income or new clients?
  • improve lives?
  • make more connections?

Can you quantify each of these achievements, with specific facts and figures?

This will help you to set goals for next year.


  1. What could you have done better?
  2. What points for improvement do you have?
  3. What are your key learnings from your biggest losses?

And, if you haven’t achieved as much as you’d like – never chastise yourself. Use what you’ve learned as feedback to inform your future.


In her article, Why You Must Celebrate Small Successes, Minda Zetlin says, ‘Constantly asking “Are we there yet?” means you’re missing all the sights along the way.’

Sometimes, we are so busy striving to achieve goals and reach our destination that we forget to enjoy the journey, or congratulate ourselves on taking small steps, and reaching milestones along the way.  Looking back on 2017,

  1. What were your peak moments in 2017?
  2. What is the single most important accomplishment in 2017 that you want to highlight?
  3. What are your key learnings from your biggest wins?
  4. What do you want to carry forward into 2018?

Pat yourself on the back, and celebrate any achievements. Record them and share the news in some way: add them to your CV, personal statement, social media profile or Tweet or blog, or issue a press release or article about what you’ve done.


In her Forbes magazine article, Marcia Layton Turner advocates specifying your goals in writing. However, she says, only 4% of people write down their goals, and of those, just 1% refer to them throughout the year. But they are the ones who actually achieve their goals. “The advantage that 1% has is a historical record of their goals they can refer back to at the end of the year, to see how they fared. Being able to reflect on past successes, as well as unmet goals, is a key component of successful goal setting for the future.”

Write your goals down, with as much specific detail as possible – including dates by which you will achieve them. Set both small, easily achievable goals and challenging, ambitious goals.

In Harvard Business Review’s Do Your Commitments Match Your Convictions? Donald N. Sull and Dominic Houlder provide a great framework and worksheet for stock-taking and prioritising goals and actions. Identify what’s important to you, and use that to take stock, set goals and plan for the future. Use your personal values as motivators. ‘Providing a home and security for my family’ or ‘being able to give £100 per month to charity’ might be more motivating to you than ‘being rich’.

In Harvard Business Review, Kaitlin Woolley and Ayelet Fishbach identify differences between goals we achieve and goals we don’t. One recommendation is to find ways to enjoy the process of achieving your goals – not just the end result.

Use your reflection on last year to help you to set your goals for the year ahead and remember to celebrate every small thing you accomplish. Observe how far you’ve already come, and set your sights on where you want to be, this time next year. Or envision yourself in five years’ time, and the milestones you’ll reach along the way. Then, step forward with confidence to make that vision a reality.

If you feel that your skills personally or professionally could benefit from coaching please do get in touch.

If you would like to, please download my coaching programme brochure – Women’s Leadership Coaching – For Women in Development – specifically designed for women working in global development.

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Wishing all a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!