Quick Guide to Reflecting on 2011 (and Planning for 2012)

by Shana Montesol Johnson

Happy New Year! A version of this post appeared on Development Crossroads a year ago, but since very few people were actually reading the blog then (kudos to you if you were one of them!), I thought I’d share it again to help new readers kick off their year.

You’ve survived the holidays and rung in the new year, and now you’re back to work and routine. Yet it feels somehow incomplete to jump in to a new year without pausing to reflect on 2011.  But who has the time?  The solution: a quick guide to reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the new, before 2012 gets into full swing.

If you’re anything like me, you were flat-out busy in December: closing out the year of work tasks, preparing for the holidays, and maybe even getting ready for vacation travel.  It wasn’t exactly the most contemplative season.

Now that the holidays are over (despite those decorations you still need to take down), you may be feeling a bit unsettled about starting a new year without looking back on the one that has passed, or thinking about the future.  Yet you don’t have a ton of time for reflection – your To Do list is already getting ridiculous again.

So as my New Year’s gift to you, here’s a quick guide to reflecting on 2011 and looking ahead to 2012.  The emphasis tilts toward work and career, but you could tailor or expand the questions to personal life as well.

Jot down your answers to the following 7 questions. You can also download a PDF 2-page worksheet that lists the questions and provides space for your answers.

1.       What are 1 or 2 things that I accomplished at work in 2011 that I’m proud of?

2.       What are 1 or 2 things related to my work or career that I learned in 2011?

3.       What am I grateful for in terms of my career and work life?

4.       What was the most fun work-related thing I did in 2011?

5.       What do I want to be sure that my professional life in 2012 includes?

6.       What do I want to be sure that my professional life in 2012 does NOT include?

7.       What is one small action I can take this week to move toward making that happen?

You can spend as much or as little time on this as you like. When I went through these, I completed the exercise in about 15 minutes.

Bonus points

To make sure that 2012 really starts off on the right foot, ask someone to hold you accountable for that small action you identified in #5 above.  Knowing that a friend or colleague is going to follow up with you next week to make sure you’ve completed the task will make you much more likely to actually do it.

Care to share?

I’d love to hear any of your responses to the questions.  Please share in the comments box below.

Here is wishing all of us a 2012 bursting with joy, accomplishments, and fulfillment!

Photo by Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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