Many people spend some time at the end of the year working on the New Year. These people typically fall into two groups: those who use the end of the year as a way to be introspective and look back on the past year, and those who spend time looking forward; setting goals and planning the coming year.
Actually, there is a much larger third group – the group that intends to do one or the other of these things but ends up doing neither.
Why this third group exists is the topic for another article, but reading this article can provide a path to help you if find yourself stuck in inactivity each December!
Each of the first two groups is doing something positive and helpful, but both are missing something.
They are each doing half of the two step process for accelerating your success. Here are those two steps:
Either of these steps can be useful, however when you place both of them together, you create a powerful synergy. Let’s look at each individually.
Reflection is key to capitalizing on your past experiences. Have you ever met someone who seems to make the same mistake repeatedly? This person isn’t taking time to reflect on what worked (and what didn’t) in their past experiences. Reflection allows us to learn and grow from our past experiences. You can see why people like to do this at the end of the year – it gives them time to take stock of their year and look for the things they learned.
Doing this reflection successfully though is about more than collecting lessons; it is also about growing from those lessons. Effective reflection leads to an outcome – an intention for applying those lessons in the future, which leads to the second step.
Projection is a process of looking forward. When people take time at the end of the year to look ahead and set some goals they are projecting. Projection is planning; thinking about the future, deciding what you want and then expecting success. When we plan from a perspective of expected success, we plan more thoroughly. And when we plan more thoroughly, we improve our ability to execute on those plans.
As you can see this is a more engaging process than just creating a New Year’s Resolution. The good news is that this more integrated approach gives you a much better chance of making your “resolutions” real.
How To Do It
Now that you know the steps, you may be looking for more guidance on how to do them. While books could be written on specific details and tools, you’d likely rather be reflecting and projecting than reading an in-depth treatise on approaches. So let me make it simple.
Ask yourself questions.
Ask yourself questions to reflect on the past year, on the lessons you learned and more.
Ask yourself questions to think about the coming year, what you want to achieve and how you can use the lessons of the past to reach those plans more rapidly.
Asking questions and answering them is one of the most powerful ways to help you reach any new goal or objective.
Only at the End of the Year?
I’m writing this in mid-December and this is definitely a time of year when this two-step approach is helpful. But you can use this approach any time you wish, or any time you are looking for a kick start on success.
Maybe . . .
- Once a quarter
- At your birthday
- At the start (or end) of a new job
- At the start (or end) of a big project
You can reflect and project anytime you want – in fact the more you think in terms of learning from your past and applying it to your future goals and plans, the more you accelerate your progress!
Like many other things in life, the more time you put into these processes the more valuable they will be, and yet simply working on a daily basis with this dual focus of reflection and projection can be helpful as well.
Potential Pointer: The best way to succeed includes knowing where we have been and using that knowledge as a foundation for planning the future. Using a process of reflection and projection provides a two step process to accelerate our success in any endeavor.