Do you look at your accomplishments and ignore your disappointments? Do you look only at your disappointments and ignore your wins? Or do you ignore it all? Whatever approach you take, keep in mind that how you end is how you begin.
How do you look back at your year?
So much goes down in a year, and we often forget most of it. Even the stuff we want to remember. We might be so hesitant to look at the disappointments that we don’t look at anything. Or, we might be so wrapped up in our disappointments that we forget to acknowledge our success.
I used to look back on my year through one of two lenses:
The Lens of Disappointment
Some years, no matter how much success I’ve had, what sticks out for me most vividly tends to be the disappointments: the missed goals, where I failed, the people who let me down, the ways I let myself down.
When we look only at our failings, we lose sight of all we did accomplish, what we learned, and how we have grown.
We lose track of the magic moments that otherwise gave my year sparkle.
How We Try to Write Off Disappointment
I have variously tried different ways to handle the disappointments at the end of a year:
- brushing them off (“no big deal”)
- playing it to the divine (“I guess it wasn’t meant to be”)
- trying to minimize them (“I didn’t really want it anyway”).
None of these approaches works.
As much as I might try to convince myself that I didn’t want what I really wanted, my inner truth tells a different tale. Those disappointments and wounds linger, and they become baggage carried into the next year.
When we refuse to acknowledge our disappointments, we cannot release them. And what we fail to release blocks us from having a clear vision of our future.
Even when it is unconscious, it attaches an energy of defeat going into the next year.
When you plan your next year from a place of defeatism, you set your sights too small. You set yourself up for further disappointment by not embracing your full potential.
Is this how you want to enter into 2018?
The Lens of Accomplishment
At the other extreme, I’ve had years where I celebrated how I crushed my goals. I looked at the bottom line metrics: deals closed, income earned, words written, boxes checked.
Some people are fanatical about tracking metrics: not just the income and ROI numbers, but all the other numbers: hours spent in every activity, books read, blog posts written. I will admit that I often fall into this trap too. I can easily get lost in the metrics and spreadsheets.
What We Miss When We Focus on the Numbers
When we look only at the wins and the bottom line numbers, we miss the nuances of what really makes up a great year. It’s not about the destination; it’s about the journey.
(1) How did you get there?
When we look only at the bottom line, we often forget to evaluate whether the process was enjoyable or sustainable. We don’t look at the other areas of our lives to see how they were impacted by our “success.”
Did you hit your numbers but sacrifice your health, relationships, or play time?
(2) Where was the meaning?
What matters most in life cannot be measured with metrics.
How did you grow? What did you learn? What experiences did you have that shifted your perspective?
When we focus only on the wins, we tend to go into the next year by simply increasing the numbers. Most people I know end their year and plan their next year by looking at their numbers. If they hit their numbers, they bump it up by a certain percentage and head out to New Year’s Eve celebrations.
That approach can be a dangerous trap. It doesn’t consider whether we can increase the mark sustainably or at scale. Nor does it consider whether we will enjoy the process.
Goals and outcomes can help us stay focused, but if we are truly growing, our desired ends will change. It’s crucial to focus on the journey. That’s where the meaning is.
Neither Approach is Productive
In the long run, neither of these approaches is productive.
When we focus on our disappointments, and we don’t celebrate all that went right, we enter the new year from a state of defeat. When we don’t release the disappointments, we carry that baggage into the new year and it weighs us down.
When we focus only on our bottom-line achievements, we ignore opportunities to adjust our process, or shift to a more productive strategy for achieving our outcomes.
Growth doesn’t mean you produce more, it means you become more. Setting your goals based on what you reached or didn’t reach this year is a recipe for failure in the long run.
A Better Way
Seven years ago, while attending Tony Robbins’ Date With Destiny seminar, I experienced the power of pausing for a more thorough year-end review, in which I looked at all aspects of my life — the successes, the disappointments, the systems that were working and those that needed tweaks.
I found that wrapping up my year in this way set me up for a more impactful year to follow before I even thought about new goals and outcomes. The process allowed me to see the truth of my year and still plan my next year from a place of strength.
Each year since then, I’ve given myself the gift of space to engage in this process on my own, and I’ve led others through it as well.
In the spirit of Constant And Never-ending Improvement, I have tweaked and iterated this process, drawing the best of what I learned from other teachers and mentors.
The Gift I Give Myself
The space to reflect on the elements of my year is the best gift I give myself. It’s a gift in 2 ways:
(1) I acknowledge my growth
First, it allows me to really acknowledge myself for all I’ve done and become over the past 12 months. In the silence of the pause, I gain perspective. Wisdom appears. I can learn the lessons that I was meant to learn.
When we don’t pause to harvest the wisdom we learned, we keep receiving the same lessons over and over.
By giving myself permission to pause, I can capture the wisdom and cement my learning. This allows me to move forward with clarity and grace.
(2) I creating a solid foundation for the future
Second, creating space for this process gives me a solid foundation for the future. Instead of simply rolling over my unmet goals into the new year, or boosting last year’s numbers to create a new benchmark for next year, I evaluate which goals are still meaningful and relevant.
Even where I met my goals, I look at my process: what worked and what didn’t work? Can I sustainably boost my goal numbers using my current process, or do I need to change something to scale?
We often fall into the trap of assuming “growth” goes in one direction. It’s important to ask: do I even want to “do more”?
In this space I create to pause and listen, I realign with my values and purpose and reconnect with my truth. Then I create a new vision from a place of alignment and integrity.
What I’ve Learned
In addition to doing this process for myself each year, I lead others through it each year. I have learned that there is power in doing this reflection in community, in being witnessed in our achievements and held in our disappointments.
My Gift to You
This year, I’d like to give you the gift of this process. For the first time ever, I am taking it online, and holding virtual space for this powerful reflection ritual.
No matter what your year looked like, I’ll help you find the golden nuggets and end the year on an empowering note. And we’ll take that momentum into planning 2018.
Join me on Thursday, December 28 at 2 pm on Facebook Live.
Make sure you’re following my Facebook business page.
Come as you are, from the comfort of your living room. Give yourself the space to pause and reflect, and I will take care of the rest.
We will wrap up 2017 in style.
It’s the perfect week to slow down and take time for yourself.
Can’t make it? Register below, and I will send you the recording.
This is my gift to you. No strings. You don’t even have to register unless you want the recording.
It’s my way of saying thank you for being in my life and in my world.