Why An Annual Review Is Worth Your Time by Amy DeRosia

"So may all that sits unsettled and undecided within you,
may all that weighs heavy upon you,
may all that grasps and all that grabs and all that demands,
may all the loud voices and the persistence of self-doubt,
may the fear and the frozen and the fractured and too-broken,
may it all, may it all, may it all
wash from your skin
and out into the night,
to never
be able
to hold you
down again.
It is a new day, new year, the old has gone,
kiss her goodbye."

-Joel McKerrow

Attempting New Year's resolutions year after year without results is frustrating enough to turn many people off of goal setting completely.  But if you want to build new habits, one of the first steps is assessing where you are now.

An annual review is a great way to celebrate the wonderful things that happened, figure out what worked, and let go of what did not.  Some years are not fantastic. Painful years often need healing and closure. So be gentle with yourself.

I've tried a lot of methods over the past few years to create successful change in my life. None of them have fit me perfectly, but each year is a closer guess. We have to take the time to figure out what works for us as individuals.

Chris Guillebeau  leaves town for about 10 days every year to do an annual review and focuses on two questions: 1) What went well? and 2) What didn't go well? You can also ask two follow up questions: What did I learn? What do I want more of?

End of the year rituals can be as simple or detailed as you want them to be. But we could all benefit from a little self-reflection and a new start.

What tools and rituals do you use to reflect on the past year?

8 Questions to Get Refocused and Re-energized by Amy DeRosia

CC photo by  Khánh Hmoong

CC photo by Khánh Hmoong

My own heros are the dreamers, those men and women who tried to make the world a better place than when they found it, whether in small ways or great ones. Some succeeded, some failed, most had mixed results…but it is the effort that’s heroic, as I see it. Win or lose, I admire those who fight the good fight.
— George R.R. Martin

I’ve committed to writing one blog post a week. But, last week it didn’t happen.  Even when we start off with the best intentions, sometimes we fall short.  

How we handle these minor set backs is extremely important. You can either let it derail you or choose to keep trying.

 As frustrating as it is to lose focus or make mistakes, this is what the process of personal change often looks like. We try something, fail, and have to start again. Deciding not to give up is always more important than perfection.

Any motivation about New Year’s resolutions has probably tapered off by now. But, there is so much time left in the year to achieve goals and establish healthy habits. Maybe it is a good time to revist some of those big ideas for the new year?

If you’re feeling a little discouraged or overwhelmed, here are a few questions to consider for getting inspired and refocused:

When was the last time I took a break? From technology, busy-ness, or worrying.

A lot of us have a tendency to want to finish the work and relax later. But, often times we are more effective when we’re not so exhausted. Take a break now.

Ask yourself why?

Why is this goal, habit, or project important to me?

Staying motivated often depends on not only on finishing tasks but seeing where they fit into the big picture.

What am I grateful for?

What is working? How can I make more of that happen?

How do I want to feel? What can I do to feel that way?

Feelings are great indicators of what you want. They intuitively keep you motivated and going in the right direction.

What can I do differently next time?

There are usually patterns to the setbacks we face in achieving goals. If you can anticipate a potential problem ahead of time and come up with an approach to handle that situation, you are much less likely to make the same mistakes over and over again.

We’ve all got strengths and weaknesses. Know what yours are. But, don’t let them define you. This guy, Steven Claunch, is a great example of how to not let a setback become an excuse: 

How can I simplify?

What is a shorter way to get from here to there? What can I say no to? Cut out anything that isn’t necessary or helpful.

Who is on my team?

Make time to connect with the people who support you. Helping others instead of focusing on your problems can be an excellent way to re-energize as well.

How can I take action right now?

Break goals into specific, smaller steps. Get clear on what progress looks like and measure it.

Failing over and over again doesn’t really matter as long as you keep trying, work harder, and learn from your mistakes. So don’t give up.  

How do you stay motivated toward achieving your goals? Let me know in the comments.

Why Attempting a New Year's Resolution is Brave by Amy DeRosia

The most frustrating aspect of New Year's resolutions is disappointing yourself. You get your hopes up about making something fantastic happen in your life, commit to a habit, and fall short.

This cycle makes starting again that much harder. But year after year, so many people give New Year's resolutions another try. Is it because they're crazy or stupid? Maybe.

I think they're brave. Of course we want to set ourselves up for success. But, choosing to hope, dream, and plan after failing multiple times is courageous.

We spend January 1st walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives...not looking for flaws, but for potential.
— Ellen Goodman

Resolutions are usually seen as a waste of time because most people fail at their goals before the end of January. But, there are some individuals who make major changes that stick. Lots of folks do more self reflection than they do at any other time and try to better themselves. Failure or not, these are nice characteristics to see in our culture.

Most approaches to changing your behavior are pretty similar. You have to take action, or they don't work. Find a method you like and test it out. See what feels right to you.

Here are a few good resources I know of:

  • A wonderful blog on this topic is Leo Babauta's Zen Habits.
  • My favorite resource right now is Danielle LaPorte's Desire Map (affiliate link). I've been using her system for about a year and love it.
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg

In this process, you're allowed to change your mind, quit, or fail. Just don't beat yourself up about it too much. Be intentional. Stay in motion as much as you can. Take a break and recharge. Try something else.

Lasting change is a marathon, not a sprint. There will always be obstacles in the way. The sooner we learn setbacks are part of the process, the better off we'll be.

When you're unsuccessful, you learn a lot more than if you got it right on the first try. This information about what didn't work helps you fail better and faster next time.

Starting a resolution is brave. January 1st or not- if something is important to you, I hope you continue to believe in the possibility of change and persist toward your goal. You never know what you can achieve if you don't go for it.

Happy New Year :)

What went well for you this year? What are you looking forward to about 2015?