April 17th, 2011 9:18 AM by Lehel S.
Go Boldly Forward
Mary and I usually start our year-end review and planning for the new year on Thanksgiving weekend, but this year it seems good to start early. I don't know if it's the recession, the political noise, or perhaps it's just that as I get older (wiser?), I appreciate how important it is to look back and to plan well.
I love George Santayana's quote that, "Those who cannot remember the past, are condemned to repeat it." I'm told it applies to matters of state and world affairs, but I know it definitely applies to my budget, my happiness, and my goals for the new year. And so I always coach my clients to begin their planning with a careful review of past performance.
The future always builds on the present, and the present is the result of past choices, behaviors, investments, habits and patterns. In general, our past is the very best predictor of future performance, and we want to learn all we can in order to move forward as skillfully and boldly as possible!
It is true, of course, is that people change. Hope and ambition are based on learning from the past, making changes, and going boldly forward. We all change and grow, but we tend to change slowly. Once in a while we are transformed in a flash of insight, but mostly we evolve. We learn. We try new things, we discover better, smarter, faster ways of doing things and we use that knowledge to create a future that is different and better than the past.
And so to make next year better, it's critical to ask, What have I learned? What has life taught me? Where am I wiser, stronger, more skilled or (perhaps) sneakier than in the past? How will I take better advantage of opportunities in the new year? What will I do differently?
These questions are usually best answered over time, with thought, insight and a few notes. Sometimes they are answered in conversation with people who know and love us.
Sometimes our mistakes are our best (and most painful) teachers!
One reason we laugh at the old joke that insanity is doing the same thing over and over while expecting a different result, is that we've all done that! Life tends to drift forward, with small modifications in terms of technology or new toys or a few more gray hairs, but too often, too many of us go from year to year without examining the past, learning from it, and changing our behavior. That's a common pattern, and it's a HUGE mistake!
As this year draws to a close and you plan for 2011, challenge yourself to ask better questions.
Dare to list your two or three biggest mistakes of the year.
Don't blame yourself or get upset over them, but study and LEARN from them. Where did you mess up? Where did you delay too long or rush ahead too quickly? If you see patterns or warning signs, jot them down. You may learn something useful.
And list your best successes! How did you achieve them? What did you do right, how did you use your brilliance, your skills or your initiative to accomplish good things and powerful results? Take notes -- you'll want to repeat them in the future!
If your year-end review suggests a couple of personality or character traits you'd like to change (something to over- come or to begin), jot them down! Consider ways to become stronger, wiser or more effective in the coming year. Study people who have the quality you admire and ponder how they've achieved it. If you're really bold, consider asking them for advice!
And of course, in the coming weeks, get very, very clear about exactly what you want in the coming year. What are your priorities, your values, your dreams? What's important?