I never seriously considered reflecting back on my previous year to review lessons and experiences, until I read John Maxwell’s book 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. If you haven’t read it, it’s an incredible book, and I would actually love to revisit it sometime this year. In it, John explains that the law of reflection requires us take the time to pause, reflect and GROW based on our experiences. By doing so, we can turn experience into insight and allow the lesson to catch up with us.
Let’s be honest, we’ve all sat through some form of lecture, left and let the information slide right off of us, without any further studying or consideration. The occasional lecture is one thing, but how often do we live out real life lessons and never take the time to reflect on what we experienced. Instead, we go on recreating the same scenario, making the same mistakes time after time.
In order to grow, change, and evolve, reflection is a must. And so while setting goals for the New Year is fun, don’t forget to take the time to reflect first and form those goals based on lessons and experience from the previous year. Doing the same thing and expecting different results is… crazy, right?
TAKING TIME TO REFLECT
I didn’t set any major goals going into 2019. I already had quite a few BIG things on my schedule for the year, including travel and education commitments. Aside from that, it was also my daughter’s last year at home before Kindergarten. It’s been a challenge for me to digest that we’re already at “that” point in life. When I quit my nursing job, and started working from home 3 years ago, she hadn’t even started pre-school yet.
So while I didn’t have any big goals to work towards, I did decide on a word of the year, Focus, and decided that instead I was going to focus on just living with intention. Whether in business or life, I just wanted to focus on what mattered most. So, when it was time to sit down and reflect on my year, I personally didn’t have any major goals to examine and determine a failure or a success. Instead, I simply enjoyed looking over the highlights, the hard times and pouring over any lessons learned. It’s amazing how much we can forget about within a years time. As I reflect on my year, I like to read back through my journal and look at pictures on the timeline in my Google Photos.
It’s a great chance to actually celebrate the exciting things in life, instead of simply moving on to the next. It’s also an opportunity to learn from mistakes, instead of recreating them in the New Year.
- What were the highlights of 2019?
- What were the hard times of 2019?
- What worked well?
- What didn’t work well?
- What specific lessons have I learned from my successes/mistakes?
SETTING AN INTENTION
Goals are specific. They have a start date, an action plan, and hopefully a deadline. Intentions are more fluid. It’s a way of setting the tone and feeling for how you’d like your year to go in general. Setting an intention first can be a great way to set goals that align and work well together.
I knew that I wanted more quality things in my life. This meant creating stability in my business, without creating major goals and high expectations. The beautiful thing about intentions is that they allow me to experiment and have a variety of experiences without feeling like I failed at any one particular thing. When I look back on my intentions, I can see the good in things and let the negative go.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that goals aren’t equally valuable. I just think that they’re different. If I had made room for more structured goals, I would have achieved more specific milestones. However, I think that it was a perfect time for me to experiment without any rigid expectations. My intention was to focus on what matters most. For me, this meant that I invested a LOT of time and energy into personal passion projects and time with family. It also meant, that my business grew through a lot growing pains that I had never planned for but happened naturally.
- What matters most going into the New Year?
- How do I want to feel overall in life?
- How do I want to feel in specific areas of life? (finances, health, relationships, etc.)
- What intention do I want to set for the year as a whole?
- Do I have the capacity to add more? Should I set more specific goals?
NARROWING YOUR FOCUS
Whether you have a more intentional year or a goal-based year, it’s important to use your reflections, and narrow your focus moving forward. This will help you to invest your time and energy on what really matters. Similar to setting an intention, your focus will help you dictate where your energy is directed for business and life. I knew that I wanted to have less of a “goal-oriented” year and focus more on the fun stuff in life.
I didn’t start any new business projects in 2019 aside from creating my new website, and I let the things that simply weren’t working start to identify themselves. By not digging deep into my business, and instead just paying attention, I started to recognize where my heart was in business, and what I needed to let go of because it wasn’t serving me or my clients well.
A similar thing happened in my personal life. Instead of setting specific goals, I just chose joy. I chose to travel whenever the opportunity came up. From March to September, I visited Savannah GA, Topsail Island NC, Tulsa OK, and finally back to NC in the fall. At home, I invested time into learning how to sew, starting a passion project blog, and gardening. The first two were quite a flop by the end of the year, which was perfectly OK. It renewed my passion in blogging, and showed me that while I love sewing, it’s probably not for me right now. It reminded me to experiment, find things I enjoy, and then focus on my true passions. Experiment and then arrow your focus in order to spend more quality time on your priorities before moving onto something else.
- What are my top 3 priorities in my personal life?
- What are my top 3 priorities in business?
- Narrow your focus and determine your non-negotiables for business/life:
- Quarterly (Choose One)
- Monthly (Choose One)
- Weekly (Choose Two)
- Daily (Choose Three)