For me, the holidays have always signified a celebratory close to a year well-lived. As one year fades away and another begins, each of us is offered an ideal opportunity to reflect on what we’ve learned and take those lessons with us as we move forward anew.
As a business coach, here are some year-end questions that I like to ask. As you answer these, note that each can be used to reflect on your personal experience as well as to stimulate great conversation during a team meeting or annual retreat.
- What have you accomplished this year? To the fullest extent possible, be specific. Committing your thoughts to paper is a great way to gain perspective. Don’t minimize how far you’ve come. If you’ve stayed in business this year, you must be doing something right!
- What have you learned this year? What new skills did you pick up? Were there new things you tried that had positive results?
- What got in your way? Your answers to this question may very well be where your work will focus for the coming year. Don’t be surprised if you find that you have been what’s gotten in your way at times. That’s a frequent finding in this exercise.
- Who contributed to your successes? It’s important to recognize those individuals who were there for you this year, in big ways or little ways. The busier you are during the year, the easier it is to forget to acknowledge contributions.
- What mistakes did you make, and what did you learn from them? Remember that you can often learn as much from the things you tried that didn’t work as you can from the things that worked flawlessly!
- How well did your work align with your core values? If you’ve identified inconsistencies, how do you need to respond to those?
- Where do you need to play a bigger game or accept more responsibility for the outcomes you’ve been getting? Sometimes these opportunities are a little easier to see with time between you and the situation.
- How would you rate your overall performance? If you had to give yourself a letter grade or a 1-10 ranking, what would that assessment look like?
- What do you need to let go of in order to advance? Like a climber stuck on a rock wall, you can’t reach up to the next rock until you let go of the one that’s holding you now. Can you let go of activities or beliefs that are not serving you well?
- What was missing for you this year? How can you incorporate these missing elements into your year ahead?
Taking just a little time out to assess accomplishments and lessons learned naturally places you in a better position to attack 2009 goals. There’s no better feeling to have coming off the holidays than knowing that you have gained fresh perspective and renewed energy for the challenges that lie ahead. iBi