“Reflective thinking turns experience into insight.” — John C. Maxwell
Some say December is like the Friday of the months. I like that.
When I wrap up the last year and get ready for the next, I like to put a bow on the year.
I use Year End Reflection to craft the bow.
I find this helps me get a fresh start as we turn the page of a new year.
I remind myself to slow down to speed up. I think “crawl, walk, run” as I look to the new year.
I want to build on a firm foundation that compounds over time and amplifies my results as I “Be”, “Do”, “Have” my way forward.
As part of that foundation, I want to be grateful for the past year, create positive takeaways for the year, and set the stage for success this next year.
That’s where the practice of Year End Reflection helps.
How I Practice Year End Reflection
My process for year end reflection is pretty simple and I shared it in my book, Getting Results the Agile Way long ago.
I basically ask 3 key questions:
- What are 3 things that went well? (what are the 3 highlights?)
- What are 3 things to change or improve? (what did I learn from any lowlights or challenges?)
- What are 3 Wins you want to achieve this year? (What’s my bold ambition big dream for this year?)
If you get stuck on #3, a simple trick is to imagine if a genie were to grant you 3 wishes, what would you ask for? (aside from a magic carpet ride)
To keep it in perspective, think of the 3 Wins as 3 changes you want to see in the year ahead, how you can do something different, become something different, or experience something different.
You know you’ve got a good set of 3 Wins to work towards when you feel like you have a compelling future that pulls you forward.
If you struggle finding compelling outcomes, then try connecting with your values.
Spending time in your values is one of the best ways to find your mojo and get your groove on, and it helps you find your flow.
How Tony Robbins and Sage Robbins Practice Year End Reflection
How does the master of effectiveness and a true leader in the field of personal development practice Year End Reflection?
I was curious and I like learning from other people’s practices.
Luckily, Tony Robbins and Sage Robbins shared their family’s 4 step process for Year End Reflection:
- Create a slide show of your favorite pictures from the year.
- Pick your favorite music to support the photos.
- Remember and reflect on precious moments.
- Figure out what you want to accomplish this next year.
Here’s a little more detail to better understand the steps…
- They take all their pictures for the year and highlight their favorite pictures, and throw them together in a slide show.
- They pick their favorite music. They look for music that represents the spirit or the heart of it. The photos combined with music help underscore the beauty and the magic in it.
- They capture magic moments and accomplishments. They go month by month. They ask what happened in January? It could be little moments. They brainstorm and share not only the moments, but what did they accomplish, what did they learn, what are they grateful for, what were the loving moments, etc. The slideshow with music now has all these triggers. This step helps them break free from our 2 million year old brain that’s designed to make you survive, not make you happy. It’s always looking for what’s wrong. Remember those meaningful moments to expand your heart.
- They sit down and brainstorm, what do they want to accomplish next year? We are the moments they want to create as a family? They take little things they want to do, big things they are going to do, and create a compelling future.
Tony and Sage share 3 key messages about year end reflection:
- Gratitude wipes out two things that mess you up (fear and anger). When you’re grateful, you’re not fearful and you’re not angry.
- Choose to remember the beauty in life. It’s a beautiful time of reflection to magnify the magic in our lives.
- No matter how stressful the outside world is, this inside world can be incredibly rich.
I find that message about how deep gratitude wipes out fear and anger. That’s some powerful stuff.
Note that one of the most insightful things I learned from Tim Sanders past year is that if gratitude doesn’t work for you, then start with forgiveness.
Sometimes you need to practice forgiveness before you can fully feel gratitude.
How Brendon Burchard Practices Year End Reflection
Brendon Burchard shared his approach to Year End Reflection in the form of 10 questions:
- What were your favorite moments or memories of this past year?
- What achievements or wins are you most proud of this last year, and what did those achievements or wins mean to you?
- Who were your favorite people in your life this past year?
- What were the 5 biggest personal lessons you learned this past year?
- What are the 5 biggest professional career lessons learned this past year?
- What 3 things do you wish happened in this past year, but did not happen?
- What 3 positive things happened, that you did not anticipate happening, that you’re grateful for?
- What’s the main positive takeaway you want to have from this past year?
- How can you finish this year, rested, refreshed, and in a positive mindset?
- What are your top 5 goals for next year?
I’m a fan of question-driven approaches. At work, one of things I find myself saying a lot is that if you want better answers, ask better questions.
These are some good questions for reflection and recall to help you remember the moments that mattered, and to consciously assign meaning.
After all, you are the bard of your life and your most important meaning maker.
You experience the world how you represent it internally.
I like how Brendon ends with a positive takeaway, a focus on renewal, and eyes forward on the prize ahead.
How Shelly Lefkoe Practices Year End Reflection
Shelly Lefkoe, co-founder of The Lefkoe Institute, shared her approach for Year End Reflection in the form of 5 questions:
- In the areas of relationship, career, financial and health – what were your wins this year?
- In these areas what would you like to see be different – be specific?
- Who was I being this year – caring? Kind? Generous?
- Who will I be next year?
- What will I do next year to produce a different outcome next year at this time. What are my commitments?
Shelly helps people eliminate their limiting beliefs, with a lifetime of experience and success stories under her belt.
What I think is especially important here is the mindset of gratitude and curiosity that Shelly recommends as you do this review:
“What were my wins this year? What are the things that I wished I had done that I hadn’t done? Who was I being? Did I step up in the ways that I wanted to? Did I make the contributions I wished I had?
And as you do this, rather than using it for a beating yourself up exercise, or a, ‘Wow, aren’t I great?’ exercise, it would be wonderful to just really take stock and look at the things that you’re proud of and acknowledging yourself for that and the things that you wish you had done differently, or the person you wished you had been more of.”
Reflect Your Way Forward
Well, there’s a pretty good set of examples of how to practice your Year End Reflection.
Which one should you use?
Personally, I’m a fan of Bruce Lee’s philosophy summarized in this quote:
“Absorb what is useful, discard what is useless and add what is specifically your own.”
Try them all and find what works for you.
Figure out how to practice your Year End Reflection that you enjoy and helps you change your game.
Put a beautiful bow on last year, learn your way forward, and create a compelling future that pulls you forward.
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