Let me guess . . .
You have a plan for next year, at least in your head . . .
But have you stopped to look at what happened over this past year?
I know you can’t drive a car looking backward, and most of the time I agree, however, every now and then you need to look in the rear-view mirror.
In the past, I didn’t spend very much time looking back or reviewing what had happened, after all, I had things to do and people to see.
However, I was always running and feeling like I wasn’t getting anywhere.
Then a friend told me about a program they had purchased which helped them get more done in less time, and how it helped them feel better about what they accomplished.
I thought “Oh great, another course to spend money on;” however, I respected the person telling me about it, so I looked it up.
The program was Darren Hardy’s “Living Your Best Year Ever” and if I recall, it cost about $40 at the time.
I thought “What the heck, I’ve wasted more money on worse things” and decided that I would give it a try.
When it showed up, I worked through the program over a couple weeks time and it made a significant difference in my life, both that year and every year since.
Darren made many valuable points in this program, but the one that has stayed with me for several years is the practice of looking back regularly.
At the end of every day, I review what happened that day.
What went well and what I could have done better.
This takes about 3 minutes.
At the end of every week, I look back and evaluate the week to see if I accomplished what I said I would. This takes about 5 minutes.
At the end of every month, I look back and see if I accomplished my monthly goals.
And you guessed it; at the end of the year I look back and see if I accomplished my yearly goals.
When I’m reviewing where I’ve been, I ask myself four questions:
- What wins did I have?
- What loses did I have?
- What do I need to do to fix the losses?
- Did I have any “aha” moments?
When I started doing this, I had to train myself to spend an equal amount of time on the wins as I did on the losses.
In the past, I would focus on the losses and not look at my wins.
Doing these reviews have been helpful in multiple ways.
First, I look at my results to see what worked and what didn’t, and then I ask myself “What can I do differently?”
When I do this daily and weekly it enables me to see where I can improve quicker, and it reinforces what I’m doing well so I am aware of what I need to continue doing.
When I do identify a loss, it forces me to pay attention to what I’m going to do to overcome it, and what I’m going to do differently next time so it doesn’t happen again.
Another way these reviews are helpful, especially the end of the year reviews, is that I can see how far I’ve come.
I don’t know if you’re like me or not, but I tend to focus on where I’m going and not pay attention to how far I’ve come.
It’s easy to focus on how far you have to go when you’re on a long journey, and then not notice how far you’ve already come.
Last summer my wife, son, and I drove to Maine to visit one of my daughters.
It is over a 1,700-mile drive.
At the end of the first day even though we’d driven 10 hours, we still had 1,100 miles to go. On the map, the distance looked like forever, but when we took time to realize that we had already come 600 miles that day and looked at how far we’d come, it felt much better.
How can you apply this in your life?
The other challenge with always looking ahead and never reviewing where you’ve been is that most of the time you’re going to feel overwhelmed.
When I’m working with my clients, at times they may not feel like our project is getting the results they want or getting them as fast as they had expected.
That’s when I point out where they are now versus when we started. I ask them questions like: “How much have your audiences grown?” or “How are your sales now when you promote something compared to last year?”
It’s easy to overlook all the incremental growth you had in the previous year and then only focus on where you want to be in the future. Instead, try to compare where you are now versus where you were last year at this time.
Look at what you could have done better, but more importantly, look at what you’ve accomplished and take time to celebrate your accomplishments.
You’ll feel better, your team will feel better, and everyone will be energized as they get ready to start the new year.
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