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Want to achieve more? Stop making New Year’s Resolutions and review the last 12 months instead

Do we place too much pressure on ourselves at the end of each year by focusing on how we can do things better in the next 12 months?

Would it be more productive to review and reflect on what we have completed well, and also the things that didn’t go to plan for us, in the last 12 months instead?

The anxiety that can build by either placing unrealistic targets and objectives on ourselves for a new year leads to much disappointment in most cases that leads to procrastination, lack of self-belief and a negative mindset.

Any New Year’s Resolution, whether it is work related or on a personal level should be carefully considered to ensure it is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound).

Maybe, just maybe, by ‘binning’ New Year’s Resolutions and, instead, putting in place a thorough review of the past year, it can allow us to really understand what we are best placed to do and what we want to do in the next 12 months.

By adopting this strategy, it automatically puts us in a positive position in achieving the goals that we may have otherwise set out in a different way that might be bundled up into what are classed as New Year’s Resolutions.

The first thing to do in order to put this ‘end of year review’ into practice is to revisit our calendars day by day to work out what felt positive to us and what left us feeling that it was less valuable.

Questions we might ask ourselves could include: did we enjoy meeting that person, what did that networking event bring us, how was the open forum we attended beneficial in what we do and trying to achieve?

By asking ourselves specifically and directly about everything we did and noting down the positives and the negatives, the pros and cons and the benefits and pitfalls, we can obtain a clear and visual perspective of everything we

have completed in the last year.

The next thing to do is to celebrate!

We can celebrate our wins easily, for sure, but the things that haven’t gone as well as we had hoped can be learnt from. That, in itself, calls for celebration too!

Learning from these types of lessons can quite easily be transformed from a negative to positive and often we come out the other side with a better way of thinking about something that was once perceived as a weakness or skillset that we didn’t have.

Being constructive about the things that have not been achieved will allow us to develop ourselves without taking self-criticism to heart. Self-development is an important part of this plan so that we allow ourselves to continue to grow in both our work and personal lives.

By implementing the same SMART strategy as we would if we were planning ahead in business to our past year review of everything we have accomplished or missed the mark on, we can clearly see what went well for us in the previous 12 months.

We can celebrate the successes we have had in an objective way if we are specific about what they are. If we note down 6 to 10 of our successes we might find it easier to determine what has been achieved and how we can grow, learn and progress in both our work and personal lives.

We can then determine what is necessary for us to do to develop and continue on the path that we have chosen.

It is important, at this stage of the review, to pursue what our next year’s ‘wins’ might be and learn that not all things are worth chasing, especially if those things make us feel less productive or emotionally positive.

When we plan for our year ahead, it is easy to over commit which can then lead to disappointment for all parties involved.

The goals we set should be actionable and span across a variety of elements within our work and personal lives so that a more rounded plan can be established.

Equally, the list that has been produced can allow us to see what is best for us to focus on because we enjoyed it, it was beneficial to us and we can continue to learn from it. This, in turn, is likely to have a positive effect on those that work with us.

Forward planning for the things that feel positive and result in better outcomes allows us to look forward to those events.

These diary entries should include work related and personal appointments so that they can help keep us on track. By having specific appointments, both business and personal, diarised, it reduces the likelihood of us demoting what is important to us with the excuse of our schedules being booked up.

Self-care should be included in this because it is often the case that we put ourselves second when life gets busy. This includes: exercise, meditation or mindfulness, social engagements with those that we connect with well, self-development and simply put, ‘time out’.

The question of how to make sure we remain loyal and honour these commitments once they are diarised comes down to discipline.

If we treat these commitments like client meetings, regardless of whether they are personal or money generating events or not, it is much more likely they will be upheld if we treat them as important as if they were.

It is important to acknowledge that, by involving ourselves in both earning and non earning activities, provided we are focused in doing what we feel is valuable to us, we are more likely to deliver things more wholly, when given the opportunity to do so.

It is worth committing to a variety of planned events, tasks, projects and activities every day to keep a strong focus. These do not have to be big, but rather they should keep us accountable and motivated to continue doing what we have set out for ourselves.

Something that proves useful to many people are vision boards.

These does not have to be defined to business, nor do they have to have a pre-determined timelines. They can be created digitally, using a number of apps or tools; or they can be completed more traditionally, with magazines, scissors and glue.

Keeping to the theme of reviewing the past 12 months is to create our vision boards with a twist.

One vision board should relate to the past 12 months and this will include the things that were important to us or what we sought to achieve.

The other board can be what we are aiming to focus on and this could even include our dreams that might not necessarily feel attainable at this time in our lives.

If there is something on last year’s vision board that continues to be something we want on next year’s, we should duplicate it rather than move it so it becomes clear as to what we are continuing to focus on.

This might then lead us to question if it should, in fact, remain on our vision boards indefinitely or if we should adapt it or our thinking and focus accordingly.

By having our core values, goals and mission as well as our aims, objectives, hopes and dreams laid out and accessible for us to see, the constant visual reminder can subconsciously and consciously drive us towards achieving what we have set out to do.

Our vision might change, it might be that what once were priorities might have to wait due to a variety of reasons. We can create our vision boards with things that overlap, become superior and more prominent. Similarly, there will be things that may be moved further back because they no longer fit within our vision. The visions we have or once had can adapt and change.

Rather than focusing on what we ‘must do better’, by ascertaining what we found positive in our lives over the last year, we can build and strengthen ourselves and our focus for the year ahead.


If you would like to discuss reviews, plans or vision boards, please get in touch.



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