Have you ever felt that feeling of dread around the time of year when we you had to do yearly evaluations at work? It’s isn’t always fun to take all of that time analyzing whether or not you hit their budget or reached your goals in the past year.
We resist looking back and evaluating ourselves cause our brains are wired to keep us stagnant and safe and not take the risks needed to create the life we really want. But in order to achieve our goals and live our dreams, we have to change, we have to improve.
Now that I have been exposed to life coaching, I view looking back on this year as an opportunity to learn and feel proud and am excited to set new goals for next year.
When we look back at all that has happened this past year, we have a choice. We can choose do what our brains like us to do and think about what we didn’t accomplish this past year with regret, disappointment, and shame or we can look back at our year with the lens of gratitude, positivity, and curiosity.
As Dan Sullivan calls it, we can choose to live in The Gain, or to measure our progress from where we started, instead of living in the distance to our goals, or what he calls the Gap.
But why even look back at all? Most of us don’t want to go through the hassle of thinking about the past because if we approach our reflection of this past year focusing on all we didn’t accomplish, our brains will tell us that all looking back will do is cause us pain, and it will find evidence why we aren’t enough and that we didn’t do enough and aren’t worthy.
Instead, if we look to the past with curiosity and gratitude and remove all of the drama, then what we are left with is valuable information that can help us grow.
We can view the past as a way to learn lessons for the next year, and to think about our year in a way that makes us feel gratitude and abundance.
As you know, you are responsible for the results in your life, positive or negative, so I want to give you a really a few ways to help you look back at this past year so that you can feel good about what you did accomplish and feel motivated to keep working at the goals that you didn’t quite reach yet.
When and how to look back at 2018:
- Print out the worksheet Looking Back at the Past Year.
- Set a time frame for reflection: You can evaluate and look back as often or as little as you want. You can look back each day intentionally if you want, or do it weekly, monthly, or once a year in this formal way.
- After you reach a goal: your brain will want to go straight to the next goal, but it’s important to look back with gratitude, feeling proud about what you accomplished and thanking yourself for believing in yourself and working so hard to get there.
- When you don’t reach a goal: Focus on what you did accomplish, and celebrate what you did accomplish or the fact that you tried and learned. Then take out the drama, and evaluate the math of the situation. If your goal was to lose 10 pounds, and you lost 5, focus on the fact that you lost 5 lbs, then evaluate without the drama what worked or didn’t work when you lost the first 5 lbs, as information to lose the next 5 lbs.
Looking back at our year helps us become the best version of ourselves for the future.
Your future growth and progress are now based in your understanding about the difference between the two ways in which you can measure yourself: against the ideal, which puts you in what I call “The Gap,” and against your starting point, which puts you in “The Gain,” appreciating all that you’ve accomplished.
When you’re in The Gap, you feel as though you haven’t accomplished anything at all. This is because even though you’ve moved forward, the ideal remains distant from you. The ideal is a moving target. It might even get bigger, leaving you worse off than where you started if you measure against it. You’ve also used up time and energy getting to where you are, so if you don’t measure the progress, you’ll feel like you’ve wasted that time and energy and have fallen even further behind.
But if you turn around and measure your progress against where you started, then you’re in The Gain, and you’ll experience a sense of having moved forward, of having achieved something, and you’ll be motivated to continue on to your next stage of growth.
Chose to look back with intention.
You get to decide how you think about your past. It only lives in as a memory in your mind. It can’t hurt you now, unless you have thoughts about it that are painful. But you can choose to let go of those thoughts if you want to. And that is incredibly powerful.