I am not one for looking back. I can’t even read a book twice in most cases. I have ‘Futuristic’ in my Strength set, so I am all about looking to the future and moving towards it. But there are times when looking back has its place, especially at the beginning of a year.
At the start of each year I book some time into my diary to look back at the previous year. Sometimes I do it alone, sometimes with friends, sometimes I even run or attend a course to force myself if I lack motivation.
First, I take a look at my successes over the last year. I do this by starting with the last month and thinking about the highlights and the goals I’ve achieved – even things like “hubby and I managed an average of 3 date nights per month this year” or “we reduced our takeaway dinners to once a week”. Don’t only recognise the big stuff; write every little win you had over the last year. Don’t stop to think about it, just jot them down in your journal until you have a nice long list. If you are stuck (it may be hard to think of anything if you are in a particularly bad space) and if you are disciplined enough not to get sucked in, scroll through your timeline in Facebook to remind yourself of the highlights.
Once you have done that, sit back, take a deep breath and celebrate! If you are with people, pat each other on the back or applaud each other. If you are alone, go and buy yourself something special to celebrate. Make yourself a certificate, do whatever you have to do to acknowledge that you did well. Tell yourself, “Well done you! You are awesome, look at you go!” Take the time to celebrate each achievement.
Next, I take the time to write down all the things that didn’t go well: the disappointments, the mistakes, the failures. Don’t spend time on them yet, just write them down for now. When you have them all down, face each one and write down what you learnt from it. It must be a positive learning. “I learnt that people can’t be trusted” isn’t a positive learning!
Look at each one and ask yourself these questions:
Was this something I had control over?
What part did I play it this happening?
Could I have done anything differently?
If I had a chance to press the reset button, would I?
Did any of my successes happen as a result of this negative situation? (a one-door-closes-which-opened-another kind of situation)
Once you have done this, read through all the lessons you learned from the negative/disappointing experiences and write down a few key observations on how you did or can grow through them. Now smile: you are wiser and more prepared for 2016! You will not make the same mistakes because you now know where you went wrong and what to do about it next time. Give yourself a high five!
Once I have done that, I get out a clear piece of paper, divide it into 3 columns and put 3 headings on it: Stop, Start and Continue. I then look at 2016 and write down what I will stop doing, what I will start doing and what I will continue doing. Now I am ready to get to my goals, but that’s for another day….