If you’re like “most” people … right around this time (end of January), your good intentions for New Year’s resolutions are probably starting to falter. You felt great the first week or two of the new year -- focused, energized, and excited about what you set out to accomplish. The FUN part is visualizing your goals, but the hard part is in the daily grind it takes to reach them.
One reason I am sometimes on the fence about the usefulness of New Year’s resolutions is just that -- so many people fall off the wagon by the end of January...leaving you feeling unmotivated and like you’ve failed. I’ve seen statistics than anywhere from 80 - 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February. Understandably, that leaves people feeling like it is a waste of time to even set resolutions or goals in the first place!
If you have read my blog for a while or worked with me in the past, you know I am a “goals person”. I love setting them, I love working toward them, and most of all, I love when I achieve my goals (doesn’t matter if it’s a big or small goal -- the satisfaction is incredible!). I think it can be really powerful to set New Year’s resolutions, as long as you have a process in place to hold yourself accountable for your progress and measure how you’re doing.
Absent that, the chances of you actually achieving what you set out to do is greatly, greatly diminished.
That is why I am so big on retrospectives. It might not be fun to force yourself to do a retrospective every week, but it is possibly the #1 thing you can do for yourself if you truly want to achieve your goals and stick to your resolutions.
Speaking of retrospectives ... if you'd like to download a free printable PDF of the exact template I use for my retrospectives every month, sign up below and I will email it to you!
There are two big things that regular retrospectives can help you achieve, whether it is on a personal level or in your business:
- Keep you accountable toward where you’re headed
- Help keep you motivated by celebrating what you’ve accomplished so far
Remember -- Evaluated experience is the best teacher of all.
I structure my retrospectives by reflecting on three major areas -- (1) what went well (2) What could be improved (3) What I’m going to commit to doing (or not doing) next time. Don’t get hung up on making this perfect -- you will get better at this the more you make it part of your routine.
Note: Whenever you do a retrospective, make sure you reference your commitments from last time. Did you actually change what you committed to changing? Why or why not? Either re-commit with a plan to stick to your commitment, or release yourself from the obligation and stop feeling guilty! Guilt will hold you back from progress.
Since we’re almost a MONTH into the new year, I thought this was the perfect opportunity to share my own retrospective from 2017. I recommend doing regular (weekly or bi-weekly) retrospectives, but also rolling up a bigger retrospective for larger milestones, as well -- such as the end of a big project, the end of the quarter, or the end of the calendar or fiscal year. Put some thought into what makes sense for you (or your team), and schedule your retrospectives into your calendar. You will be amazed at how much MORE you get done when you are doing these regularly!
So without further ado … here is my 2017 retrospective! The lessons, the accomplishments, and what I’m changing to keep me moving ahead in 2018 and beyond.
WHAT WENT WELL:
1 - Energy & Attitude: I am naturally a very positive, upbeat person … which I consider to be a huge strength and asset, especially as an entrepreneur. Part of the reason I am this way is because I surround myself with a great support network (my wife, kids, family, and colleagues), and take care of my health by eating well, exercising, and taking some down time when I need to recharge. I definitely will keep this up in 2018.
2 - Feedback Loops: Implementing regular feedback loops for myself did wonders for keeping me moving forward. Do not stare at the mountaintop and become overwhelmed by how far you have to go, rather reflect on how far you’ve come and what you’re working on at this very moment.
3 - Self-Awareness: This has become a competitive advantage for me. By being hyper-self-aware, I decrease blind spots, and am able to sense when I am getting sideways with my thinking. I know when I’m in the zone, and I can keep firing on all cylinders to build on momentum. This is something I have cultivated in myself, and can only come from experience, reflection, and being honest with yourself. Definitely a skill I recommend cultivating as much as possible -- it will take you very far.
WHAT COULD BE IMPROVED:
1 - Focus: I tend to get excited about (read: distracted by) new ideas very easily. I am always thinking of the next opportunity or where the business is headed. While this is important, I also need to remember to stay focused on the immediate task at hand in order for me to put myself in the best position to succeed.
2 - Time Management: My work expands to the time I allot for it to get done (anyone else find this to be the case, too!?). I’m working with my team to create firm deadlines and implement reminders that will hold us accountable toward those deadlines.
3 - Expectations: On a personal level, I learned that the only person who is responsible for being a source of strength for me on a daily basis is ME. It’s not fair for me to put expectations on others (my wife, my clients, my colleagues) to be “all in” on this journey with me, and it can lead to disappointment.
WHAT I’M COMMITTING TO FOR NEXT YEAR:
1 - Operate at the edge of my ability. Yes, I will make mistakes -- but this also makes me smarter! (This was a big lesson I took away from Daniel Coyle’s book, The Talent Code. If you haven’t read it -- please do!)
2 - Be consistent. Pulling from my “what could be improved” retrospective, the theme I’m hoping to weave through everything I do in 2018 is CONSISTENT. If I am consistent with my mental and physical efforts, then success will come to me at unexpected times. I truly believe this!
3 - Don’t get distracted. Life happens (often at the WORST time possible). There is a lot of work to achieve the business goals I’ve set for us in 2018, so I’m committing to “rise and grind” every single day, and not call into question the big picture if we encounter small failures or unexpected results along the way.
So there it is -- my 2017 retrospective.
An annual retrospective like this one tends to be focused on themes or larger trends and patterns. If you are doing weekly or bi-weekly retrospectives, they should be much more specific and laser-focused.
Both types of retrospectives are important to keep you moving forward!
As you can see, this exercise can (and should!) be a positive routine you integrate into your schedule on a regular basis. It is meant to energize, as well as keep you grounded in reality.
Too often, we worry about avoiding unpleasantness. Things such as pain, criticism, hard work, risk, discomfort, worry, doubt, boredom, guilt…..the list goes on and on. Truth is, unpleasantness is a part of life -- you are bound to encounter it! It is what you do with the lessons you learn from unpleasantness that will determine how successful you are at getting what you want out of your career and life.
I encourage you to give regular retrospectives a try. This is the #1 thing you can do if you truly want to hold yourself accountable for your resolutions and goals! If you started 2018 with big aspirations for the New Year, but are having trouble staying on-track -- download my retrospective template, and spend 10 minutes reflecting on WHY. I know this will make a difference for you, if you truly commit to it and schedule it into your weekly routine!
PS -- Don’t forget to grab my free printable retrospective template! You can use this every week (or every other week) when you hold your retrospective. Enter your name and email below and I'll send it to you right away.