Self-reflection is essential for success. If you want to accomplish big things in the new year, you have to be clear about where you’re coming from.
We have been doing yearly planning guides for the last few years here at Ink+Volt and this year is no different. This post is the first part in our 4-part year-end planning to help you wrap up this year on a high note and plan an amazing new year.
Each post in this series has a free worksheet that you can download to use to guide you. Here is Worksheet 1 from our 2018 Year-End Planning Series!
Looking back at 2018: accomplishments, struggles, and memories
Before you start plotting everything you want to do in 2019, stop. You cannot make a plan for the new year without truly processing everything you did this year. Take a look back. Where were you at this time last year? Where are you now?
What did you hope to accomplish this year? What were your dreams for 2018? Did they change? How did they change? What occupies your mind today, and how is that different from what kept you busy last spring and summer?
Flip through your planner, or go through old emails, and look at all the things you did this year. It is so easy to forget what happens, even just week to week — let alone to remember all the way back to January or February. Refresh your memory of the many things you did since this year started.
Think about all the things that have happened this year, good and bad. When were you the happiest? When did you struggle?
Take a moment to reflect on how different you may feel now from other times in the year. When we are struggling, it’s hard to imagine ever feeling differently. If you struggled earlier this year, reflect on how you feel better now. What changed?
On the flip side, if you are having a hard time this year — or if you are struggling to get things done before the end of the year — try to remember the times you felt accomplished and happy. Don’t let how you feel right now color your memory of the entire year. Don’t let feeling like a failure now change how you will dream about a better 2019.
Your year-end planning worksheet and lessons learned
Use this free worksheet to start figuring out your biggest lessons from 2018. Every year, no matter how crazy or boring, has things to teach us.
The best way to draw out the lessons from this year is to start thinking really specifically about the things that happened to you this year. If you keep a journal or a planner, pull it out to help you remember big moments from the year and guide your responses.
Here are some questions to ask yourself as you begin reflecting:
- 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?
Focus on answering as honestly and fully as you can. Even if it is painful to write about something you wanted to happen that didn’t, or a goal you didn’t achieve, write it down. The more clear you are about what worked and what didn’t work, the better you will be able to start defining your most important lessons learned.
Now get a little bit more deep. Ask yourself:
- 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.
How do you feel about the things that went well? Do you feel proud? Why? What made the difference between the things that got done and the things that didn’t?
For the areas where things could be improved, what was going on in your life at that time? Were there things out of your control? Decisions you made that you would change?
And finally, the last question from your year-end planning worksheet:
- What are your biggest lessons from the last year?
This is where the hard work really starts!
You might want to take a break before filling out this part of the worksheet, so you have a clear mind. When you look at your answers to the rest of the worksheet with fresh eyes, what stands out to you? Are there themes?
You don’t have to have perfect answers. You also don’t have to have 10 or 5 or even 3 lessons learned. Maybe this year was about learning one big thing. That is okay — in fact, that is a great place to be because it gives you a great, crystal-clear jumping off point for your 2019 planning.
However many lessons you can pull from your experiences in 2018, you are in a great place. You are ready to start thinking about the new year. You are ready to build upon everything you accomplished and learned in 2018 to make 2019 your best year yet.