I love the end of the year

I love the end of the year. Why? Because of the holidays? Of course. But also because it’s an opportunity to reflect on the previous year, pull learning and have it support the next year.

Whether for myself or my clients, I find that the more reflective we can be at the end of the year, and the more intentional we can be going forward, the stronger our foundation for what’s next. Of course this isn’t limited to just year to year reflection, this also can apply to project to project, client to client, event to event, etc.

In fact, we can even take the big challenges, lost opportunities and fears of the previous year, pull the learning, and convert them into “Best Practices and Intentions” to help create a powerful New Year.

Why is this important? It enables us to come from a place of growth and power, to build deeper relationships and to create better results moving forward. It puts us in a self-responsible and intentional mindset that creates results, vs. an unintentional mindset that regrets (or avoids) “failures” or mistakes and waits for results.

Done individually, it honors ourselves and who we’ve been in our business, life and leadership the last year. Done with our team (or spouse/ partner/ etc.) it honors what we’ve done together, where we’ve grown, and what we’ll do next. It basically sets us up for greater success and yes, of course, greater engagement.

There are many ways to do it. Here’s one way:

1.         Reflect on this last year.

2.       Identify the most challenging events of the year for you (could be in your business, life, leadership, relationships, children, etc.)

3.       Pull the learning: What do you know now from that situation, that you didn’t know before? Where is the gift in that situation (as hard as it may have been)?

4.         What high level (or very specific) thing will you do differently moving forward as a result? What can be done better? What do you want to make sure you remember? What system may you need to create/shift? What does your mindset need to be? (I call this creating “Best Practices” (BP) for action or mindset.)

5.         Optional: For those of you who like structure, make a nice “Reference Sheet” with your Best Practices. (Years ago, I had a client who had theirs laminated and shared it with the team, years later, they still practice this.)

Of course you want to honor and identify the best things that happened as well. The successes, the wins, the delights, all of it (after all you can also capture best practices and mindset from what works!) [This is huge, by the way: don’t leave this out. This can actually be trickier to do than focusing on the challenges, but that’s a whole other article!]

Sound like a plan? Here’s the beauty, you don’t have to do it alone. Do it with a coach, a friend, your spouse or your team, you’re likely to unfold even more learning.

I did it myself and have posted some of my high level learnings (for myself, my team and my clients) that will serve us in 2009, on my blog. If you’d like more on this topic, simply follow the link below!

Here’s a quick taste of 4 of them:

1.         Creating white space in our calendar is essential for keeping a clear, creative, healthy and engaged mind. (“BP” Result: Monthly “White Space” Blocks – offsite, out of my normal element.)

2.       Taking care of our well-being is essential to our success and being able to be in full service of those around us. (“BP” Result: Clean eating, regular workouts and sleep are non-negotiable.)

3.       Matters of attitude, heart and spirit are contagious, so be responsible for impact and attitude. (“BP” Result: Honor the opportunity for practicing conscious engagement. Be aware of and response-able for impact, and do best to help things go right.)

4.       Gratitude makes the world go round, no matter how scary, uncertain or stressful life gets. (Result: Challenging or frustrating situation, relationship, project or feedback? Ask: What am I grateful for in this situation? What is the gift? Where is my opportunity for growth?)

These are some of mine, they’re also common themes I see with others. Can you see how pulling the high level learning and themes, and putting a “best practice/reminder” in place can turn a challenging situation into a productive one moving forward? See one that fits you? Feel free to integrate it. Nothing here for you? Create your own in a way that resonates for you.

The bottom line is this: Who knows what’s going to happen in 2009 with the economy, our businesses, our relationships, etc., who knows? BUT, there’s an opportunity to contribute to helping things go right for yourself and your organization and it’s amazing what can happen when you fully engage and take the reigns.

So, have you given yourself the space to reflect on this last year yet? Challenge: Between now and 12/31/08, set aside a couple of hours to give yourself the gift of reflection and intention. Most people do New Year’s Resolutions (and are disappointed when they’re off track by 1/20), what if you did New Year’s Reflections & Intentions and created best practices that could stick? What if?

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