Look behind before you look ahead

Now is a great time to look back on the past year and gain some perspective on where you’ve come over the last twelve months and what you’ve accomplished.  It is also the time to create a realistic personal vision for 2015.  A personal vision is more predictive of success and satisfaction than socio-economic background, intelligence or educational level.

Conducting a personal year-end review is a wonderful exercise if you make it significant and meaningful. If you just make it a recap of earnings and what you bought or didn’t, it won’t be worth the effort. To be worth your time, your review and the creation of a plan for next year have to touch on issues close to you and how you really want to live your life.

Use this year-end review to help you get started.


Ten Questions To Ask Yourself At Year-End


  1. How happy have I been overall with my job?
  2. How happy have I been with my family life?
  3. How happy have I been with what I do for myself personally?
  4. Did I do something regularly that expresses my most strongly held values?
  5. If there were one thing that I could change about my job, what would it be?
  6. If there were one thing about my job that I could expand, so I could do more of it, what would it be?
  7. What would I want to add to my job that would make it more interesting to me?
  8. What would I want to add to my job that would make it more meaningful to me?
  9. Where has my life lost balance?
  10. What did I leave out of my life that I wish were there?

When you look back over your life and career for the last 12 months, you’re not just trying to put a bunch of checks and minuses beside categories. By paying attention to enough of your experience, you can use your review to discover direction for the New Year you are just entering. If you base your new year planning on your most significant experiences of the old year, you have a chance to create some significant direction and momentum for yourself.


What should your ’15 game plan look like?

  1. A good goal has a positive end. It should be something you want, not something you hate, but think you should do. “I am going to exercise more” is one of those goals that sounds nice, but will undoubtedly end up on the back shelf. “I’m going to find some kind of exercise that I enjoy.” Now that’s more like it!
  2. A good strategy should move you toward something that you find enjoyable, fulfilling, productive, or rewarding. What do you find especially fulfilling and meaningful in your life? That is the place to start looking for a good goal. Increasing what you find meaningful in your life can have a significant positive benefit for you, and for people around you.
  3.  A good strategy should move you away from things you find unproductive, unfulfilling, meaningless, obnoxious, or unrewarding. What do you hate doing? What feels like a waste of time? What feels almost totally unproductive? Here is fertile ground for goals. Decreasing what you find meaningless and unrewarding in your life can start giving you a sense of internal control over what happens to you. 
  4. A good strategy cuts across several main areas of your life. Try to find the overarching themes of your goals. If you can find a goal that clearly states what you want to change in your work, your family, and your personal life, you know you’re on to something significant. If your goals seem isolated to one particular area of your life, keep pushing a little more to figure out how your goals are connected.
  5. A good strategy ends up being fairly simple and straightforward. If you do enough work on your 2015 strategy, you will be able to write the main points of it on a few 3X5 cards. Your strategy should be a set of ideas that you can carry with you even without any cards. Your strategy is just a template, a structure, that you can use fifty times a day to make decisions about where you want to put your time, energy, and focus. Using your strategy can help you start to feel that you are making the major decisions about your life—instead of having them made for you by events and circumstance.


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