Now that all three of my children are in school, I've noticed that time seems to move much more quickly than it used to. Although it's been an entire year, I'm still not entirely used to the idea of 2013…and here we are almost at 2014. Which means it's time to reflect! I rarely make New Year's resolutions, but I do like to take a few minutes at the end of every year to think about what has changed this year, and ponder where I'd like to be at the close of the next.
And part of those reflections is asking myself how well I served my clients this year, how the relationships are working, and how we can work to achieve even more in the coming year. Even if you're not a consultant, I think these are valuable questions to ask yourself at any time of the year:
What surprised you about the last year? Good or bad, surprises have things to tell you. Did a campaign you thought was sure-fire actually bomb? Did a relationship go awry? Did an idea you had on the fly turn out to be a life-saver? Reflect on those things that surprised you -- and why you didn't see them coming.
What worked well? It's easy to focus on what's not working, but I think the more helpful trail to follow is what is working. Chip and Dan Heath call it "following the bright spots" and I've found it to be incredibly helpful as I move forward each year. Where are things going right? Can you pinpoint why it's working so well? What can you do to keep that momentum going and even expand it? Can you apply any of those lessons to other areas of your life? While dwelling on things that went wrong might be tempting, looking at what went right often yields more positive results.
How can you make things that aren't working better? That's not to say that you shouldn't examine your failures. I had a colossal mess on my hands at one point this year, and although I'd love to pretend it never happened, I know that it actually has a lot to tell me about where I want to go in 2014. Where did you fail this year? How can you turn that failure into a positive next year?
I enjoy all this reflecting -- and find it deeply helpful. But even better is coming back to work on January 2nd and beginning to make my reflections reality. Bring on 2014!
(But if reflection isn't for you, you could try one of these ways to welcome in a New Year.)
Cheers! And see you in 2014!