December 5, 2017

Lessons Learned in 2017 (Yearly Planning Part 1)

What can you take from this year to make next year amazing?

Can you believe it’s already December?

One of our favorite things to do here at Ink+Volt — and a big part of our planners — is reflecting on the year that just happened, and planning out how we will be successful over the next 12 months to come.

That’s why we love this four-part series we started doing last year to help you end the year with huge momentum, so we are doing it again!

Before you can plan how you’ll be amazing in 2018, you first need to look at where you succeeded and where you struggled in 2017. The more you understand where you’ve been, the better you can plan where you are going.

Ready to get the ball rolling for the new year? Read on!

(Here is the worksheet that accompanies this blog post:  Reflecting on 2017 Worksheet)

Start by reflecting on the biggest moments on 2017

Reflecting back on the year can be hard to do, for lots of reasons. A year is a long time — remembering everything that happened can be challenging. It can also be hard to look back on a year that didn’t go the way you had planned, or where you met with a lot of failure.

But guess what. No matter what happened, it is all about to be worth it, because it is going to be your guide for making next year more amazing.

Every failure can teach you something. So can every success.

Before we drill down into specifics, take a look at your year overall. What stands out to you? If you need inspiration, here is a short version of mine:

  • I spent nine months of this year pregnant with my first baby. It has been so exciting, but has also taught me how to prioritize my time and get things done when my energy is low (as I struggled later on in the pregnancy to match my previous ability to get tons of things done every day!).
  • I quit a job in a toxic work environment and started working at Ink+Volt with people I admire. I made a career choice to work fewer hours and to work from home, with a team and bosses who inspire me and make me proud.
  • I traveled to France expecting to stay for 2 months, only to have to fly back after 2 weeks because my mother passed away suddenly. It was one of the hardest times of my whole life and took way longer to get back to “normal” than I expected. I felt like I let a lot of people down (even though everyone understood), both with work and with personal things.
  • I started saying no to freelance projects for the first time in my career. It made me realize I had better clarity on my goals and was figuring out how to invest my time wisely; instead of trying to do everything, I learned to choose only the things that added value.

Needless to say, I had a kind of big, dramatic year. Maybe your 2017 was similar, or maybe it was more by-the-books. No matter how big or small the standout moments of your year were, take some time to record them and reflect on how they shaped the rest of the year.

Now drill down into lessons learned

Once you start reflecting, it is time to start drawing out the lessons that your year has to teach you. The best way to do this is to start thinking more specifically about the many things that have happened this year.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin reflecting on the biggest moments of your year:

  • What was the best thing that happened this year?
  • What accomplishment are you the most proud of?
  • When did you have the most fun?
  • What goals that you set for this year have you achieved?
  • Were there things you wanted to do but didn’t?

These questions are designed to draw out specific memories and moments for you. Right now, don’t worry about finding lessons yet (unless some obvious ones pop out!)/ Instead, focus on answering as honestly and fully as you can.

  • What are things that went well?
  • What are things that could be improved?

Make lists of the things that went really well this year, and a list of the things that did not go well. Some of these things might have been in your control, and others will have been unavoidable.

As you make your lists, think about what category each one falls into. For things you couldn’t control, think about how you reacted to the event. Are you happy with your response? Frustrated you didn’t do better? How you respond is always in your control — do you feel proud of the way you embraced unexpected events, both positive and negative?

For things that were in your control, start thinking about what caused them to happen. Were your biggest successes the ones you spent the most time on? Were they the ones you had the most fun doing? Were your failures things you put off to the last minute? Were they things you feel you’re not good at?

And now, the biggest question of them all…

  • What are your biggest lessons from the last year?

Look at your responses to all the questions above, and start drawing out themes. What are the big takeaways from your highs and lows? What are common themes?

Start thinking about the reasons why things happened. Were there patterns? If you missed goals, what were the reasons why? Were you prioritizing other things? Not making enough time?

The same goes for your successes: what do all the things you succeeded at have in common? What do those commonalities tell you about yourself, your priorities, or your life?

Get ready to plan an amazing future

When you know why things go the way the do, you can make better plans for the future. And that’s exactly what we will start to do next week, when we take a look at your greater life plans.

Until then, keep reflecting on this past year and the many things your experiences have to teach you. The more you look, the more you will find.

 

P.S. Don’t forget to download the worksheets here!

 

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