Acclaimed American philosopher and scholar, John Dewey, wisely said, “We do not learn from experience… We learn from reflecting on experience.”
Well, it’s that time of year again…the time when everyone tells you to get a fresh start, resolve to live better in the new year, and all that jazz. While that’s not a bad thing to do, it can help to take a minute to reflect back on the year before deciding how to move forward. When we don’t spend a moment engaged in honest assessment of the past year/moment, it is difficult to avoid repeating mistakes or patterns which weren’t helpful.
Here are five questions to help get you started on looking back over this past year.
- What were your goals from 2017? Did you have them recorded/written down at the beginning of the year? If not, do you remember what they were?
- How did you do on reaching them? If you had them written down, go through them one by one and really reflect on what, if any, progress you made.
- Take a look at your calendar from the year. Take a few minutes to look back through how you spent your time. Was it in line with reaching your goals? Or was it spent on other priorities (or other people’s priorities)?
- List seven things which went well in 2017. If they are related to your goals for the year, you get bonus points. But regardless, make the list. Acknowledging the positive is critical to maintaining healthy perspective.
- List seven things which went not-so-well in 2017. Especially hone in on anything that got in your way with meeting goals.
The act of taking time to go into the specifics will help you absorb what you need to take from the year’s experience. This isn’t an exercise you can do effectively in five minutes. Instead, look at that calendar, and schedule a block of 60-90 minutes. Grab a hot beverage (‘cuz baby, it’s cold outside), put your phone down, grab a pen and paper, and begin. Let us know how it goes, and how we can help. Happy New Year!