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3 Ways to Reflect on the Past Year and Plan for the New One

3 Mins read

The end of the year is a great time to spend time with loved ones but is also a great time to spend time with yourself, reflecting on how the year went for you and what you can do differently next year.

One of the main reasons people do not grow in their personal lives and careers is that they do not take time to sit back and analyze their work for the current year. We tend to do things one after the another and there is no time for retrospection. There is no way to grow or improve, if you didn’t review how you did in the first place.

Instead of just sitting on a couch and thinking of everything you did this year, here are three ways to reflect on the past year and plan for the new one.

Make a list of accomplishments

The human mind is built to automatically be more sensitive to negative news. So, we often find ourselves pondering upon the multiple things that went sideways. But, we do not take time to reflect on the things that we have already accomplished which are worth celebrating.

Take time to sit in a quiet room and write down all your accomplishments for that particular year. These could be both small and big wins in your life that came from your effort. This could include a huge sales deal, a friend meetup you instigated, or even just getting your picky eater to try broccoli. Once you have this list, force yourself to celebrate these accomplishments, this may include going out for a fancy dinner, opening up a bottle of champagne, watching a nice movie, or anything special you do outside your regular routine.

Forcing your mind to recognize accomplishments slowly trains it to embrace negative news and celebrate positive ones. This practice makes the mind more resilient.

One thing to keep in mind is that you could start doing this from the beginning of the new year, in a journal or document, or even just by sending yourself an email occasionally with “Recent Accomplishments” as the subject line (and a list within it), so you can quickly search for or filter on those when reflection time rolls around.

Write down things that did not go well

Albert Einstein once said, “No amount of experimentation can ever prove me right; a single experiment can prove me wrong.” Throughout the year you may have experimented with different things. Some may have worked and some not so much.

Write down a list of things you tried but did not work out for you. Put it through these three question filtering systems to get more clarity:

Question 1: What do you think went wrong?

Question 2: What did you learn from it?

Question 3: What can you do differently next time?

The answers to these questions will force you to analyze your actions and help plan things you want to do for next year.

Identify 3 big goals and chunk them down

According to the US News & World Report, about 80% of the new resolutions will fail by the second week of February. Another research conducted by Strava found that the failure happens much earlier. Now, why is that?

The main reason is people set too many goals and do not visualize them. They are excited to start the new year with a changed mindset and often commit to too many things. This gets overwhelming and within the first few weeks, we start losing the momentum and motivation required to make these goals sustainable.

So, start small and start simple. Write down different goals you want to achieve that particular year. Pick the top three goals, chunk them down into smaller goals, and come up with an action plan. The action plan consists of identifying tasks associated with each goal and scheduling those tasks on your weekly calendar so that you can make gradual progress towards them throughout the year.

For example, say you want to lose 25 pounds in a year. This means you have to lose about 2 pounds every month which would be about a pound every week. So, you can have tasks such as on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday – you will do cardio for 1 hour and eat healthily those days. On Tuesday and Thursday, you will go for a 30-minute walk. These tasks may help you reduce a pound every week. Put these tasks on your calendar so that you exactly know what to do every day to feel good and reach your goals.

Taking time for retrospection forces you to recognize that you are doing your best and you are strong enough to face the next year. Let’s make the next year the best year ever, by working to be the best version of yourself.

Raj Subrameyer is a tech career strategist focusing on helping people to land their dream job and become successful leaders. He has given multiple TEDx talks and is a sought-after speaker at various conferences and has been featured in numerous TV news segments, podcasts, and publications. His areas of expertise include career advancement, leadership, motivation, productivity, and entrepreneurship. In his spare time, he loves traveling and enjoying craft beer. You can find more info about how he serves people through his website,

New year goals stock image by New Africa/Shutterstock

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