New Year’s Resolutions. Intentions. Vision. Goals. Letting go of what doesn’t serve us. Manifesting what we desire. What do all of these things have in common? They are all future-oriented. And looking to the future is a great thing to do, essential, even, if we want to live the life of our dreams and achieve our goals.
We live in a future-oriented culture. We’re told not to dwell on the past, to live in the now, to get over it (whatever “it” may be) and move on. That is sound advice as well. But, does it go too far? Does it keep us from useful reflection? In thinking about this, I am reminded of a great line from the movie, the Blues Brothers, in which Elwood and Jake are in one of many car chases. John Belushi pulls the rearview mirror off of the windshield, tosses it out the window and proclaims, “What’s behind us doesn’t matter!”
Here’s the thing though. Reflecting on the past is not a bad thing. It can be a very good thing, and it can be just as essential as looking to the future. Our current reality is the sum of everything we have done in the past, so if we don’t stop to reflect upon it, how can we change? If we don’t look at the past, we don’t learn from it.
I invite you to take some time, early in 2018, to reflect on the past year. You can do this a a journaling exercise, or write on a whiteboard, or in a file on your computer.
- Start with your successes. What went right in 2017? Where did you nail it? It could be as big as launching your business or as personal as kissing your kids goodnight every night.
- Then make a list of things that didn’t go so well. What not-so-great decisions might you have made? What did you blow off or let slide? This is not a beat-yourself-up exercise. It’s just a way tosee what didn’t go your way last year and bring to light opportunities for improvement.
- Next, list your lessons learned. Often these lessons come from your “failures” list.
After you’ve gone through this exercise, you’ll be able to take stock of what’s important and what is not. Maybe you really need to focus on something you let slide last year. Or, conversely, maybe it’s time to let it go for good.
From here, you have a tangible base to map our your intentions and goals for the coming year.
May 2018 be your best year yet.