This year, I was in the UK for Christmas, surrounded by quintessential English countryside. I took a break from work, and prioritized time with loved ones. This downtime, and the peaceful setting that is such a contrast from my normal Manhattan lifestyle, lent itself perfectly to introspection. Like many others, I found myself reflecting on the year gone by: assessing how far I’ve come, and what I’ve learned along the way. I realize that this can be a challenging exercise for many, so I wanted to share the process I use to facilitate this kind of self-assessment.
First, make a list of things that you are proud of, what you feel you have accomplished or something that gives you a feeling of a step, growth or change. Next, pay attention to each of those items and ask yourself what did you do, what choices did you make, what was different about you in that situation? Try to capture the essence of that. By distilling it into a series of reflections, you are consolidating your new knowledge in a way that will help you to carry it forward. Often, the list of distilled “lessons” seem obvious, trite, or simple. But now that you’ve uncovered them through an analysis of your own experience they have a meaning and a resonance that is far more beneficial than just hearing someone say the same words to you.
In the spirit of transparency, and to show you that it doesn’t have to result in groundbreaking revelations to be a valuable process, I’m giving you a glimpse into my own reflections. I use a table format, but you should do this however works best for you: whiteboarding, handwritten notes etc.
Here are a couple of my reflections for 2017, and the lessons I’ll carry with me in 2018:
I achieved personal best race times in my runs and my work performance increased with improved physical fitness. As I reflect on this, I am reminded that purposeful goal-setting and goal-achievement is a key personality trait of mine and leveraging this is a sure-fire way to make me stick to a plan, even when it’s boring. I’m most proud of sticking to the training routine over a period of months and not being derailed. The lessons I take forward are i) that physical health is so important for performance at work, even when the job requires more mental capacity than physical, and ii) create a goal for anything and you’ll get it done. If you are full of energy, fitter and stronger in your body, you feel more capable and can generate results in work life too.
My most pleasing achievement of 2017 is reaching the targets I set for my business and then beating the stretch goals I set for Q4. Reflecting on this, it was a combination of hard work, persistence, care, and the support of a great team-mate. Working with my wonderful colleague Alison Cairns and seeing her develop and grow in parallel with the business is inspiring. I love how she pushes me to deliver on what she needs in order to provide our services. The lesson I take forward into 2018 is that you cannot do this alone. You have to find people you trust and then you have to go for it. It’s a process of becoming vulnerable and the lack of this personal risk-taking is what holds so many people back from scaling-up their practice or truly empowering their teams.
And finally, there was the small triumph of finally understanding what a good call-to-action looks like. It was a throwaway comment from a participant at my conference workshop that was so right, so simple and pinpointed exactly what I was missing. She said how much she’d enjoyed my presentation, and talked to many others who had also thought it was a great session. But, she said, there was no immediate action that we were asked to take to continue working with me. Another presenter had a really simple form which people could sign-up for a follow-up phone call or to receive a book and almost everyone in her session had done so, meaning she had already taken the next step in following up with all those new connections.
“If you liked this, now do xxxxx”. Adding this really simple action step to the end of my presentations turns an enjoyable experience for the participants into the next piece of business. I’ve already tried it and it’s worked. It seems so obvious now, but it took an ‘outsider’ to make me realize it. The lesson to take forward is that you need to be open to hearing feedback from all angles: you never know where the lightbulb moment will come from.
As we enter peak goal setting season, I encourage you to take stock, review your goals for 2017 and consider what you are bringing forward positively into 2018. Acknowledging and celebrating your successes, and identifying how much you’ve learned, is really important for your self-esteem, and to developing your belief in your own capacity for growth.
If you feel like you need a little extra help to facilitate this kind of reflection and goal setting exercise, or if you have ambitious objectives that you’re looking for support with achieving, get in touch to learn more about our personal coaching services.