Reflecting on Last Year and Setting Goals for the New Year
As the year comes to an end, it’s always a useful exercise to take some time to review the past year and all its events. Reflecting on what happened during the year, what you accomplished, and what could have been done better will bring closure to the year and will also provide the space for valuable learning. It’s also a good idea to take some time to review the past before thinking about the year ahead.
When you are ready to close the chapter of the prior year, you can move on to the future. Start with a clean slate, and create what you want in the following year. Anything goes: it’s your future. Don’t worry if the goals seem too lofty--with deliberate planning and execution, anything is possible.
Review the Prior Year
Schedule a time in your calendar to sit in a quiet place and reflect on the previous year.
What happened during the year?
Take a moment to take stock of the year. Reflect, and list everything that happened during the last 12 months. Include accomplishments as well as events that weren’t necessarily positive yet shaped you. Sometimes we focus only on achievements and failures, but circumstances that were out of our control are also important to recognize. All these events had an impact on you, and you may find underlying patterns or connections just from setting these down on paper.
What did you learn from these events?
Take a moment to review what worked and what didn’t work. Also, acknowledge how you grew and how you handled the events of the past year differently than you did in the past.
What would you like to leave behind?
Are there patterns, relationships, or activities that have outgrown their usefulness? The transition from the prior year to the new year is an excellent time to release things that were maybe good for you in the past but are no longer relevant.
What can you appreciate from the prior year?
It's always a good idea to be grateful. Even if your year was one that you would rather forget, there is always something you can be thankful for within.
Give yourself ample time to review and analyze. Then, officially close your year. Once you are ready, it is time to move on to creating goals for the next year.
Set Your Goals
The next step is to visualize the future and set your goals for the following year.
Where do you see yourself by the end of the year?
Look ahead to the end of this year. Where do you want to be? What have you accomplished? The future may not just include achievements, such as buying a home or getting a promotion; the future you envision can also contain enhanced character traits, such as being kinder, or even lifestyle changes, like spending more time doing fun activities with your children.
Separate your goals into categories: personal, work, health, and community. You may find you are setting too many goals in one given class and not giving enough attention to another one. The categories will help you create a more balanced future.
When setting your goals, make sure they are measurable and attainable. Even if an intention is to be kinder or more spontaneous, how would that look? The goal could be to do one small, even invisible, act of kindness a day.
Make a Plan
From here, you can plan your year to ensure you will reach your goals. Work backward from the result, and see what actions you need to take to get there. Divide the year into quarters and months, if necessary, and define what milestones need to be accomplished at different points of the year. Deadlines make you more accountable and will make it more likely to reach all your goals.
A key component is then making sure these milestones and actions are present in your everyday schedule or planner. Find the method that works best for you. A tactic that has worked for me is setting reminders for myself throughout the year that prompt me to review my goals and see how I’m doing. I also have reminders for the different actions I defined for myself, which help me ensure I am working on the goals during the year.
For more on setting and seeing through your goals in the next year, please read my blog post, Setting Goals and What That Means for Your Growth.
Try an Impossible Goal
Set an impossible goal for yourself: do something you have never done before. Impossible goals help you reach higher for something new and which otherwise might never happen. If you don't seize the moment, time will keep on moving, and you might never try. My blog on impossible goals has more on how to set and achieve them: An Impossible Goal This Year Will Make You Achieve Amazing Results.
I’ve been setting and completing impossible goals for myself since 2016:
2016: Read 50 books in a year.
o I combined contemporary books with some of the classics, and I have continued reading 50 books or more a year. If I hadn’t set the goal to read 50 books, I would have never been able to change my habits.
2017: Start this blog.
o I had a hard time getting it off the ground, but with the help of my peer coaching group, I launched it in September 2017.
2018: Write a children’s book.
o I wrote three different stories until I was finally satisfied. In the final months of the year, I hired an illustrator, and the book is now finished. Alicia and Bunnie Paint a Mural will be published in early 2019 in English and Spanish.
2019: Write a nonfiction book, which I will publish in 2020.
o Wish me luck.
Each year, my impossible goal has opened a new world for me. The exploration during the journey was almost even better than accomplishing each of these goals. For instance, my children’s book is something I never thought I would do. However, along the way, I discovered the joy that comes from bringing a character to life and sharing it with those around me.
Happy New Year! I wish you a year full of exploration, discoveries, and growth.