Value of Looking Back

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Recently, I was asked to participate in an interview about year-end reviews. One of the questions asked was why is a year end-review so important. Although, I am a huge proponent of conducting yearly reviews, I often skip over the explanation of why a review is important and assume others already know. I do recall my skepticism of reviews long ago though, so I am sharing my thoughts on why you should take the time to complete a review of your past year and how you can get started.

The close of a year seems to be a natural reset for many of us. Our year ends with a celebration of the past and a mindset to welcome in a fresh start. We tend to move so quickly through daily life sometimes we don’t slow down to realize what is actually happening in the present moment. A review allows us to capture what we may have forgotten, whether intentional or not.

I believe much of our growth is formed from a combination of our actual experiences and the acceptance of those experiences. When we pause to acknowledge what occurred in the past (good or bad) we are really letting go and making room for new experiences, connections and opportunities in the future.

Year-end reviews are as much about planning for the future as they are reflecting on the past. When we know what we want to do, we feel in control of our life and ultimately we can make better choices because of it. There is less of a chance you will feel indecisive or stuck if you already know the direction you want to go in.

Although, I find Visual Reviews to be most effective – because of the accountability, guidance and of course the visual maps – the important thing is that you give yourself the space to review and learn so you can plan for future growth.

Here are some tips if you want to conduct your own year-end review:

  1. Collect reference materials. If you haven’t given your year much thought yet, you probably have forgotten what you actually did. Start by reviewing your calendars (electronic or paper) which hopefully has meetings, appointments, and events captured. If you use social media, many create a mini review of the year for you around this time – reference these to help trigger your memory.
  1. Document Chronologically. Once you have the reference materials handy, start documenting what happened. The easiest way is to move through the calendar from January to December. Write down appointments, events and milestones for each month.
  1. Find a lesson. Documenting your year is only the first step in the process. Once you know what happened, think about the successes and challenges faced during each month. Note how you feel and what you learned from each.
  1. Create a Plan. The lessons your learned hopefully helped to identify some things you want to do again and others you want to steer clear of. Start creating a plan for your new year with actions you can take to keep doing what worked and to stop what didn’t work for you.

Wishing you a Happy New Year full of Clarity, Control and Direction!

Interested in participating in a visual review of your past year? I offer individual sessions, business review workshops and a new interactive online program to review 2015.

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