The Value Of Reflection by Cindy Stradling CSL, CPC

This is the time of the year when people start to set personal and professional goals for the upcoming year. While this is a forward view for leaders, failing to take stock and reflect on what happened in 2019 makes it more difficult to set realistic goals for 2020.

Taking the time to do some personal and professional reflection is an important part of the goal-setting process. In some ways, it is a parallel process to an annual self-review, allowing the leader to take a closer look at what worked well, areas where there was a gap in expectations and performance, as well as in behaviors that need to be discontinued due to inefficiency or lack of productivity.

Tips for Self-Reflection

Start by booking off about an hour where you can focus on your thoughts and ideas. Get in a comfortable place and unplug and disconnect, avoiding interruptions and distractions. Choose a time when you are relaxed and not hurried, stressed, or feeling overwhelmed.

Have a pen and paper handy and plan to take some notes. You may also want to record your thoughts, but don’t get hung up on using technology, as this can actually distract from the flow of ideas. Use a method of capturing your ideas that work for you. This may include a bubble and line type of diagram, or perhaps three columns of what to continue to do, what you would like to start, and what needs to stop.

There are some essential considerations when reflecting on the past year. This is not meant to be a critical look at what mistakes were made or what goals were not met. Instead, it should be a balanced look at the positive decisions and the impact of a leader, as well as what is not productive and needs to stop or change.

Once you are organized, consider the following questions as a way to start the process:

  • What are the top 5 leadership accomplishments for you this year?
  • What are the takeaways from each of those accomplishments that you want to incorporate in the future?
  • With these accomplishments, what would you fine-tune or modify in the next project or year?
  • What are 5-10 words you would use to describe your leadership in 2019? What words would you like to be able to write next year, and how can you work towards making this a reality?
  • What personal achievements have you made this year (health, relationships, hobbies, personal goals)?
  • What are the biggest lessons you have learned this year?
  • What surprised you this year, and how can you use that learning experience in the future?
  • What was one decision you took a risk on that paid off?
  • Where do you spend most of your time and energy, and is this where you want to spend your time and energy?
  • What energy-wasting tasks or routines do you want to eliminate for 2020?
  • What goals did you not meet in 2019, and why?
  • What have you learned about yourself from not meeting those goals, and how can you use this information moving forward?

Allow time to consider each question and be open and honest with yourself. This information is instrumental in moving forward in setting your 2020 goals and building a platform for continued professional growth and achievement.