I love the month of December. It’s one of my favorite times each year, because people are encouraged to be generous and kind, and spend time investing in their most important relationships. I look forward to being with my family, sharing old memories and making new ones. I look forward to celebrating the victories of the year with my different teams. December is the month that ties up the whole year.
That’s why I’ve always used the last week in December as a time of reflection. Every year I set aside that time to go back over my calendar and review my year. I look at every day in my calendar and evaluate it. What was the main thing I scheduled that day? What turned out to be the main thing that day? What deserved more of my time? What deserved less?
It’s a habit I’ve developed over the years, and it’s one of the biggest in terms of setting me up for success. That’s because reflection is one of the keys to growth. You’ve heard the old saying, “Those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it.” That applies to more than just schoolwork and world events. It applies to your personal history as well.
That’s why, for the last few weeks in December, I want to share with you three key areas for your own reflection. You may not have the time to spend an entire week going over your calendar – though I recommend it if you can – and even if you did, you might not know where to start. So I want to give you three areas in your life that you can look back on for 2016, in order to determine where you grew, where you need to grow, and how you can capitalize on both moving into 2017.
This is one of the biggest areas of growth for any person. Which relationships are helping me grow? Which ones aren’t? Sometimes the answers are surprising. And sometimes, the biggest relationship issues we face are with people we can’t just run away from! So how can you learn from this year’s relationship choices to be more successful and healthy in the coming year?
Our years are composed of things we have to do, both at work and at home. But the question is, for as busy as you are, are you doing the right things? How can you decide which responsibilities are truly yours versus things you do out of guilt or fear? And what might happen if you choose to be responsible for those things that only you can do? Learning from how you spent your time and effort this year will help you better position yourself to make the most of the opportunities you take and the commitments you make next year.
Of all the reflecting you can do on your year, this one most reveals how much you’ve grown over the past 12 months. What outcomes did your choices produce? Did those outcomes satisfy you? Did they move you forward toward your goals? If not, what outcome would have been more satisfying, and how can you chase that down in 2017? You see, the return you get for the choices you make can either keep you hungry and willing to move forward, or drain your energy and keep you stagnant. When you take the time to think about what gives you your best return, you will be better positioned to chase that return from day one in 2017.
I don’t know how your 2016 has shaped up, but for me, every year has its ups and downs. 2016 was no different. I’ve seen some great successes, but also some disappointments along the way. I’m looking forward to my reflection time, because I want to squeeze as much out of this year as I possibly can, to better position me as I head into next year.
Maybe you’ve had an up and down 2016 yourself. Maybe the year has felt more like a roller coaster than a walk in the park! Maybe you’ve felt uncertain about how to move forward in your relationships, responsibilities and returns. If so, I truly believe investing some reflection time in these three areas will significantly shape the way you live in 2017. Of all the gifts you might give this Christmas, making it a season of reflection is bound to be the greatest one for yourself and everyone around you.