Closing out the year – a proper review of 2022
As the year comes to a close we naturally reflect on the events that we have experienced in the prior 12 months. Some of us tend to focus on what we have achieved and others on what we haven’t. Personally, I find it most useful to reflect on a balance of both.
Why a review is important?
A review is an important self-learning exercise. Reflecting objectively on the year can actually change your perspective on how you remember the year. Reflecting on accomplishments is known to increase your self-efficacy and confidence in your ability to achieve. Reflecting on where things didn’t go so well, can help you understand the key factors at play. A review can also identify or change goals for the year ahead and can provide you with clues about how to achieve more in the year ahead.
Understand why things did go well
A useful starting point is to review any goals you might have set either for the year or for this phase of your life. Objectively review these – were they met in full, partially met or not met at all?
Spend time looking at the achievements this year – whether you set out to do them or not what are you really pleased that you did? Make a point of celebrating each one. I like to collate a record of the year in photos by collecting together photos that mark all those achievements. This montage can be a useful prompt to reflect on how each achievement made you feel.
Rather than just basking in the glory of the good times, reflect on what made those achievements happen – what was the key to making them happen?
Was there something in the way you approached the achievement – Did you say yes to an opportunity? Did you break the goal into manageable steps? Did you have a positive mindset? Was it your sheer perseverance and determination? Or was it about having the time, money or resources to make it happen? Or did you have a method or a friend that held you accountable?
When you look at all the positive events and achievements either planned or unplanned is there a common set of factors that you can identify? These factors are your enablers. Understanding the enablers that work for you may help you approach goals that you find harder to meet.
Understand why things didn’t go so well
Next, have a look at things that didn’t go so well. Try and look at each event objectively and seek to understand whether this event was within your control or not. Sometimes life gives us curve balls that we cannot predict and cannot impact. On my list this year - my dad died and my husband was ill – I couldn’t impact these from happening. It is worth noting all your curved balls for the year – so you remember why you may have been taken off track.
For all those things that were within your control, have a look at those goals which were partially or not met - why didn’t these happen? Was there something about the goal - Was it in conflict with your personal values? Did it feel overwhelming, too difficult, or unachievable?
Was there something about how you felt - Were you not in the right headspace to achieve the outcome you wanted? Were you lacking motivation? Was it about prioritization – other things got in the way? Or curved balls took you off track? Was it that you didn’t have enough time, money or resources to complete it?
In the same way you identified enablers, have a look at what the barriers were to achieving your goals. Note anything that may have been outside of your control – perhaps Covid postponed a holiday – if you cannot impact or influence it, then accepting it can be an important release. When you look at all those events and achievements that were within your control and were partially or not met is there a common set of factors that you can identify? These factors are your barriers. Understanding the barriers that caused problems for you may help you know what to work on in the future.
What have you learnt?
Reflection on what well and what didn’t will help your personal learning. Perhaps identifying the enablers and barriers is a lesson in itself. I usually keep it simple and capture three enablers and three barriers that I put somewhere prominent so that when I am embarking on a new goal I can apply the enablers to make it more likely to succeed and manage the barriers which are within my power to influence.
Perhaps you have learnt by recognizing all the curved balls in the year and what was outside of your control and this helps you to feel less guilty about unachieved goals.
Perhaps you have learnt that to achieve the goals you might need to be more realistic and simply adjust the goals you set. Perhaps you have learnt that priorities need to change next year.
So before you launch into your New Year resolutions, allocate some time to review the year that has just passed as it may have all the clues you need to make next year a resounding success.