Goals aren’t enough on their own.
Every year at this time, my clients tell me about the goals that their companies organizations are working on for the upcoming year and the resolutions that everyone is making.
Goals are important. They help us connect to our vision, and, if done correctly, they can help us stay on track and measure our actions. I believe, however, that there is a crucial first step that is needed that most of us don’t do.
Stop and reflect.
Stop and actually think about the past.
Reflection is how we learn and grow.
We need to remind ourselves to reflect.
We need to be sure we are asking the right questions before we try to find the answers. If you don’t reflect on the past, how can you know what you are supposed to continue doing or do differently or perhaps stop doing altogether? If you don’t reflect, how can you learn?
I challenge you to take 30 minutes this week to shift your focus from the future to the past year.
As you think about the year that is ending and the things that you did and did not accomplish, move towards answering the following questions. Write down whatever comes to mind or discuss them with others.
- What do you want to celebrate?
- What challenges did you face?
- What lessons did you learn?
- How did you grow?
- How did your heart break?
- How did your heart open?
- What do you want to remember?
- What do you need to forgive yourself or others for?
- What are you most proud of?
- What are you grateful for?
Sit with the answers that come up and go deeper on why those specific thoughts are surfacing. Why are you proud of something? Is it because of how it made you feel? Is it because of how it helped others? Is it because you overcame a challenge? Is it because you let something go? Being curious about our answers is where the learning happens.
I then invite you to turn your thoughts to the future. Before you set any goals for the upcoming year, however, think first about who you want to be.
What is important to you in your journey?
Whether we like it or not, life goes by very fast. We can’t stop time. It is important to be a responsible person and contribute to society, but it is just as important to clarify our values and what is important to us.
Try to answer the following questions:
- What personal qualities and strengths do you want to cultivate?
- What do you want to let go of or stop doing?
- What do you want to continue doing or start doing?
- In what areas of your life do you want to grow and change? Where will you put your attention?
- How do you want to take care of yourself?
- What habits or practices nourish you?
Ask these questions regarding your professional life:
- How do you want to show up at work?
- What challenges, although scary, feel invigorating?
- How can you contribute to the overall success of your work environment?
These are important questions about you, what you want, and what is important to you. If you are struggling to answer these questions, connect with a professional coach (like myself!) to help you explore and find the answers.
Any change we want in our lives starts first from within us.
Lastly, I invite you to do a simple and very useful exercise. Think of one word that can help guide your decisions in the coming months. A word that you would put into this phrase:
If I was_______________ I would do_________________.
If you were courageous, joyful, powerful, fearless, positive – whatever reflects the most important value or area of growth for you at the moment (learn more about this exercise). When you need to make a decision, make sure to ask in that moment:
“If I was (insert your word here) I would do _________________ (in whatever situation you are thinking about). “
Reflection is where we learn and grow.
Understanding what worked and what didn’t and pausing to celebrate and appreciate ourselves and others is the starting point to looking at the future and setting goals for the upcoming year.