Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Goal Setting and Reflection



As we begin 2021, this is the perfect opportunity to make positive changes in your life and work. As you reflect on 2020 and the challenges it brought, consider ways to set attainable goals to make the improvements you would like to see in the new year.

During the last week of December, every year for the past few years, I’ve sat down at my computer with a cup of coffee to reflect on the closing year. I used to think of all positive or negative moments from the prior year in my mind. Recently, I've created a simple spreadsheet with 3 columns - the 12 months, positive events, and negative events. I think back to the month or review my calendar from that month, write down the positive moments, but also reflect on the negative moments. What did I learn from it and how could I improve upon it?

To me, yearly reflection helps set the tone for the upcoming year, but also gives positive reinforcement to all that was accomplished. A lot of us tend to focus on the negative scenarios - the what if’s, the judgements, and the minor setbacks, instead of looking at the larger picture scenario. Don’t focus on the negatives, instead put your attention towards the progress and small digestible milestones you’ve hit. You may not have made it 100% to the goal, but accomplishing 65% is still an effort that will lead you to the end goal. That shouldn’t go unnoticed.

 If you’re having trouble getting started with reflection, here are three things you can do to get started with regular practice.

Write In A Journal (or Blog). Every day, week or month (you choose your time period), write down 3 awesome and positive things that happened, as well as 3 negative or unfortunate things. The objective is to start and get in the habit of finding time to reflect every day and documenting it. This blogs serves as a wonderful reflection method for me.

Experience Nature. Go for a hike, bike ride, or just a simple short walk without technology. Put down your phone, take a deep breath and appreciate the beauty that is right in front of you.

Before Bed. Lay in bed before you sleep and stare at the ceiling to think about your day. The short moment of reflection will help you clear your mind and center yourself with your breath. Try not to plan your following day, but instead, reflect backwards to all that got done that day. This positivity will translate into the morning.

Schedule Weekly Meetings With Yourself. We often struggle to make reflection a priority unless we are reminded to do it — usually, during the end-of-the-year performance review. Instead, start scheduling weekly meetings with yourself on Mondays to set goals and then on Fridays to reflect. By approaching goal-setting on a weekly basis, you set yourself up for incremental progress toward larger goals. Moreover, the opportunity for regular points of reflection creates time to course-correct or pivot as needed.

Personal reflection and goal setting is something we never feel we have time for an yet it’s so good at clearing more space for the things you actually care about in your life. Remember that having goals and reflecting on those goals isn’t about creating a scope of work you have to meet or a contract you have to fulfill. Instead, it’s a mechanism for you to get into a cycle of continuous improvement.

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