Growing up as a TV fan in the ‘80s, I was forced to get comfortable with waiting. When my favorite show ended on Tuesday at 9 p.m. (like this one or this one), we were forced to wait 7 long days to see what happened next to the characters we loved. In that forced hiatus, I would often find myself thinking back about what happened and theorizing on what would come next.
Fast forward to today with the advent of streaming services and binge-watching, and as soon as your show ends another one plays right away. No time to think back before you are quickly off to the next episode. If your series is complete, no need to worry – the service will suggest another and begin playing in just 10 seconds.
With our shortened attention spans and endless availability of information and inputs, this new way feeds a desire to quickly move on to what’s next – and often leaves little time or space to look back and make sense of what has already happened and how those events might shape what comes next.
Yet that process of remembering, reflection and assessment is a key part of the human experience. Rather than just making quick adjustments in the moment, a structured process to pull back, review and plan can provide insights to guide future decisions and actions that can improve how we lead, live and impact others.
As we head into the final weeks of the year, this can be the perfect opportunity to pause and reflect on the previous months and plan for the upcoming year. To help you on this journey, here are three processes for you to consider – each requiring a different investment of time and energy.
This year has caused all of us to adjust our routines and rhythms. We’ve been forced to find new ways to live our daily lives – and in the process we’ve had to stop some things and add others.
Reflect on the changes you’ve made and focus on two areas. First, what are those things you need to leave behind. They were things you used to do but now realize are no longer necessary – or don’t add as much value as you once thought they did. These things should be left behind. No matter what our new normal look likes, you won’t bring these activities back.
Second, what do you need to carry forward? What new activities and routines have you started that have ended up being great for you. This challenge has created some opportunities – and you may have discovered a new way of doing something that should be kept in place.
This is a simple framework that can provide a useful structure to help organize your thoughts. I would encourage you to use it for both your personal and professional lives. To add the most value to those around you, what do you need to:
In addition to going through this process yourself, consider inviting others to provide their insight on what they see in you as well. Getting feedback from your family, close friends and co-workers can help you identify blind spots.
For more than 25 years, we’ve helped our clients lead and live with more purpose and intention by helping them to create a powerful Life Plan. Through the process, you identify the areas of your life that are most important to you, create a vivid future for what success looks like in each one and outline the steps you’ll take to make it a reality. (Note: if you’ve never created a Life Plan for yourself, now would be a great time.)
But as we grow and change, our Life Plans to need to evolve and adapt as well. We’ve created a structured review process to help you go through each area of your Life Plan and assess how the past year has been – and help you identify what changes you need to make for the year ahead.
To truly leverage the power of this process, you need to give yourself the time and space to really reflect and be honest with yourself. This can be hard work – but so necessary and valuable if we want to make the changes and adjustments to help us be even better in the future.
My encouragement would be to schedule a full day and devote it to the process. Go somewhere special that will give you the space and environment you need to focus and do some heavy lifting. Many of our coaches and clients (myself included) go through this process every year – and most believe is a foundational element in their long-term success.
Click here to download our Life Plan Review and Rewrite Guide.
In a society that often pushes and encourages us to focus on the next episode, taking time to reflect and assess can often feel like a lost art – and one that too many people don’t feel like they have time for. But when employed with discipline, it can prove that looking back is often the best way to move forward.