Achieving GoalsDecember already. Do you also feel that time just flew by, and it’s hard to believe another year has passed again?

Wasn’t it just recently that I spent some quiet time with my parents during New Year? I still remember vividly how we escaped Bangkok’s huzzle and buzzle, and how I enjoyed reflecting and planning for this year in the serenity of Chiangmai. It feels like this was just a few months ago…

Now it is this time of the year again. What I like about it is that we get another chance to close a chapter in the book of life and compose another one.

The insight that time passes so quickly is a gentle reminder that time is our most precious resource. Whether you like it or not, with each year less is at your disposal.

How has this year been for you so far? How would you like next year to be?

In a seminar many years ago, my teacher and friend Gerhard Huhn advised participants to make regular appointments with themselves. At least once a year. It is astonishing though how few people in fact act upon such valuable advice. They fill every working day with all kinds of meetings and struggle to keep on top of their emails and whatever else is on their agendas. They even have a very busy schedule during their “free time” doing all sorts of more or less important things.

But do they take time to sit down for just one day in a whole year to start thinking about what really matters in their personal and professional lives? Then one day they regret they still have not done what they always wanted to do, and no more time is left.

Just last week I worked with a client, and he was stunned when he figured out that in the remaining weeks of the year, he will hardly be able to squeeze in just two hours to reflect on the passing year and his achievements at work.

If you want to accomplish more and add more quality to your professional & personal life, then make this appointment with yourself right now. Put it in your calendar, and commit to it like you commit to your most important business meetings.

Take at least half a day off for this appointment. Find a quiet space in an inspiring environment. LOOK BACK and ask yourself these questions:

  • What am I most proud of this year?
  • What is my biggest accomplishment?
  • What are the things I can be grateful for?

You will probably realize that you have accomplished a lot of which you can be proud of. You can be grateful for many things that happened or were given to you. Perhaps your busy and hectic day-to-day life prevented you from realizing all the good things in your life.

Indulge consciously for a few minutes in these good feelings. Take your journal and write down what you have achieved and what you are grateful for. It is scientifically proven that regularly Taking in the Good will transform your brain.

And perhaps you have learned already that from now on you will pay more attention to the good things in your life and your accomplishments on a daily basis.

You also want to ask yourself:

  • What was left undone?
  • What have I been putting off?
  • Is there anything I always wanted to change but still haven’t done yet?

There are three main reasons for not having accomplished your goals:

  • You didn’t really want it
  • You allowed “the circumstances” or other people to take control of your life
  • You suffer from immunity to change

The sole purpose for looking at the “darker side” of this year and yourself is to ultimately answer the question:

What can I learn form this? What will I do differently next year?

After completing your review it’s time to LOOK FORWARD:

  • What do I want to accomplish next year personally and professionally?
  • What matters most?
  • What do I want to change?

In order to achieve your goals how will you spend your time? What kind of person do you need to become to accomplish these goals?

Clarity about what matters most in your personal & professional life is the key to success in the office and at home. Choose how you spend your daily 24 hours wisely.

How do you need to grow? Perhaps you have to learn some new skills to become a better leader or to take the next step in your career. Maybe your time management needs to become more effective in order to achieve a better work-life balance.

Most importantly, how do you overcome your immunity to change to get done what you have been putting off for too long already?

Maybe working your way through the book of the same title Immunity to Change by Robert Keagan is what you need. Or you partner with a buddy who wants to change as well, and you healthily challenge each other to keep on track.

I have chosen to work with a personal coach to help me get my first book on leadership published next year. (By the way public commitments can also help holding yourself accountable…) Maybe that’s what you want to do, too.

For my clients and subscribers I offer complimentary tools that are useful to get started, e.g. the Wheel of Life Exercise, the Management & Leadership Wheel, or the Job Performance Wheel. Just drop me a note and I’ll send it to you.

I wish you and your families a wonderful holiday season and all the best for the New Year!

Dedicated to Prof. Dr. Wilhelm Keim on the occasion of his 78th Birthday today
Special thanks to Coach Steve Mitten for valuable input on this article

8 Responses to Looking Back and Looking Forward

  1. Peter says:

    Hi Gerrit

    Good post in line with the spirit of December. I agree with what you write, except for one thing. I don’t think these reflections – looking back or looking forward – should be done at the end of the year … which is also the least productive time for most executives. Thoughts are on the upcoming holidays, travels and excessive meals ! The real power of reflecting upon what you have done, what you have not done, what you will do about it, is in being able to do that constantly ! Reflecting and looking back and forward will help you, your team and your business. Squeezing this in as the nearly-last-thing-to-tick-off-the-annual-to-do-list defeats the purpose and the real power of the cycle of reflection and action.

    Happy holidays !

    Peter Cauwelier

    • Thanks, Peter! You are right, everyone needs to define the best time to do so for themselves. For me it is between now and the first week of January. The important thing is that it’s done and not postponed forever. Reflecting and looking back & forward regularly is of course the best. My experience is however that most people don’t. They are just busy being busy, and they seem to attend to someone else’s agenda. Enjoy your holidays, traveling, and your excessive meals!

  2. Deb Brown says:

    Hey Gerrit. Great post. It has real meaning and good questions to ponder. Deb Brown

  3. Nicole Gu says:

    Hey Gerrit, I do like the powerful questions which were listed in this post. Those questions can help us refresh, think,know us very well,and move on the action execution.

  4. Sheryl says:

    I’d like to find out more? I’d like to find out some additional information.

    [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

Dr. Gerrit Pelzer
Executive Coach
Bangkok, Thailand
phone: +66-8 98 11 36 48
Skype: gp_bkk

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