December 31, 2018
The end of the year typically presents a wonderful opportunity to “close the books” on the year that was and set the stage for the upcoming year. For many of us (not all), our schedules tend to slow down this time of year as we, along with many of our clients and customers, are taking some “down time” with family and friends. This gives us a little extra time to reflect and plan—time we don’t often get at other times of the year. Before you get completely immersed in next year’s calendar, it’s worth the extra effort to look back on the prior year, to celebrate victories, learn from mistakes, and take a pause before launching into a new year. The following tips are designed to help you hit your own personal “reset” button for 2019.
Take an Inventory of Successes and Failures
This first exercise may be the most challenging for some, but once you’ve gone through it, the next steps become much easier. Here’s where you take an honest look at 2018 to explore your personal and professional victories and defeats, to see what lessons you can take from each of them going into the next year. The goal isn’t to determine whether you had a good or bad year, or to weigh in on our personal or professional worth. It’s simply to see what you can learn from the past year that will help improve your business and/or personal life going forward. Try to be as neutral as possible during the exercise without taking anything too personally. The exercise will work on both a personal or business level, but for our purposes we’ll focus on the business application going forward.
We recommend making two lists: One that enumerates your company’s greatest accomplishments and successes in 2018, and one that itemizes the company’s shortcomings and mistakes.
For your list of successes: Evaluate what you did right that caused the success. Is there a way you can replicate the process that led to the success or, better yet, scale it? How can you leverage that success into greater success for 2019?
For your list of failures: See if you can identify the root cause of the failure. (The “5 Whys”exercise can be particularly helpful here.) Was the failure just bad luck, or is there something you can do to shore up your defenses, so it doesn’t happen again?
Clean and Declutter
This next exercise is far more tangible and practical: Before launching into the new year take a day or two to go through your office and declutter. Organize any accumulating piles of paperwork, junk mail and other “stuff” that might have piled up on your desk. Throw away anything that is irrelevant and file away anything you need for future reference. Try to start your first work day of 2019 with a clean office and desk. There’s something psychologically invigorating about this process, if nothing else.
Get a New Planner
Another place you can declutter is in your daily/weekly planner. If you use a physical, bound planner, you might be able to buy refill pages for the upcoming year, but you might just want to toss the whole thing and start fresh. If you use some sort of online planner, go through and delete irrelevant entries similarly to how you just decluttered your desk. It’s another way to send the message that with a new year comes a new plan and new possibilities.
Take Time for Yourself
Once you’ve reset by taking a professional inventory, cleaning and decluttering, it’s time to reset personally. Try taking at least a couple of days away from the office, away from family and home obligations, to “unplug” yourself from the routine. This might take the form of anything from a mindfulness retreat to a mini-vacation—or just ducking into your favorite nook to read a book. Whatever helps you pause for a couple of days before jumping into the new year—take time for yourself.
Sometimes we dread the New Year out of sheer exhaustion. The practices described above can help clear out the cobwebs and give you a fresh perspective so you can launch into 2019 with a fresh sense of energy, purpose, and optimism.
Here’s to a great 2019!