Reflecting Forward: Looking Backwards to Go into the Future

When we take the time to reflect and celebrate, we now position ourselves for the next phase of the journey. It’s what national championship coach, Nik Sabin, calls the 24 hour rule – his players have 24 hours to reflect back and bask in the glory of a win or the agony of defeat. After 24 hours the team has become focused on the next goal at hand trying to get another victory.

So here are a couple of tips on reflecting forward:

1. Get into the right state and environment
To be effective with self-reflection it is good to get into a suitable mental state and environment. First it is helpful to have all of our attention at the process, so don’t be distracted by maybe having the TV turned on, etc. It is best if you don’t have anything else on your mind. You don’t want to get interrupted either.

2. Ask the right questions
I usually start by asking myself the question that is on my mind, the question that expresses an inner conflict. It is something that has a continuing influence on me, where I am not satisfied with and want to change.

By asking a good question you give your brain something to work on. It will try to find a good explanation to it, starting the process of self-reflection. So it is crucial to ask the right question here, the one that expresses your topic. Good questions are always the ones that bring your topic to the point by asking “How can I …”. Usually questions starting with “Why …” are not very effective. By asking “why” questions, you will get answers why it is that way. But you want to improve here, that’s why a “how” question is more solution-oriented and therefore usually much more empowering.


The Year Past:
1) What went well? Identify the goals you accomplished or advanced towards; and note anything else that went well and is worth highlighting.

2) In what ways did you grow and evolve in the ‘evolution of you’? How were you tested or challenged and how did you grow as a result? What new skills, knowledge, ideas and insights (life, work, other) have made you better or different from the beginning of the year?

3) What were your favorite moments of 2012? Savoring positive experiences has been proven to be a success strategy for building optimism, resilience and mojo – all essential ingredients to personal and professional wellbeing!

4) What do you need to clean-out or let go of right now from the year past to be ready to start fresh in 2013? Consider both your physical space (your office, your home) as well as your emotional and mental mindsets.

5) What and who are you most grateful for right now? Consider the people in your life; the circumstances; the gifts; make this a juicy list!

6) If there was a theme for 2012 for you personally, what would it be? i.e. “This was the year of ____.”

The Year Ahead:

7) What are your goals for 2013? Consider professional goals as well as personal goals. Consider small, medium and BHAG goals (big hair audacious goals).

8) What of your strengths and assets will you deliberately use more of in the year ahead to realize your goals? Consider your personal strengths but also your assets such as your network, knowledge, experience and more. Make a plan.

9) In what ways will you take care of your personal wellbeing to maintain or boost your “Mojo” – resilience, energy, inspiration and sense of wellbeing? Take time to reflect on your physical wellbeing as well as your mental and emotional wellbeing. If you were at your peak – what would that look like? What needs to happen to bridge the gap from where you are today to where you want to be? Make a plan.

10) In what ways will you take care of your professional wellbeing to boost or maintain your work-life aspirations and career mojo? What new skills will you acquire or deepen? How will you foster/grow your network? What new challenges will you take on? And what support might you call on to help you achieve your professional goals?

11) In what ways will you contribute something to the ‘greater good’ of _____ (choose a community or communities of choice)?

12) If the year ahead is to have a personal theme for you, what would that be? i.e. “This will be the year of ____”

I want to close this post by a quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe who said: “Never by reflection, but only by doing is self-knowledge possible to one.” While this first seems like a contradiction to the process of self-reflection, it is not. The reason to do self-reflection is to be more effective in the doing.

As you strive for a better year next year- remember: believe and succeed or doubt and do without!

Be sure to tune in next year as we will be engaged in other creative opportunities to inspire and empower others – you don’t want to miss it!

Until next time, BE INSPIRED!
Dr. Inspiration

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