Review and Reflect

Dec 30, 2013 by

2013

Taking time to reflect is great. Gearing up to get ready for a new year is also needed and good. So, what are ideas that might work for both of these days? Let’s take a look at these knowing that we have already arrived to this time of year. You might choose to do these even now as you prepare for 2014, but look at the recommendations for applying these principles more than just one time a year.

“The Week Between”…every year between Christmas and New Year’s for several years now, I have learned from others the value of taking this time to both reflect and get ready.

Thinking back over the year…

It is my perception that John Maxwell probably does this evaluation as well as anyone. He has often talked about this, but he really focuses on, reviews, and reflects on the past year. What was good? What was value added? Where could he eliminate, change or improve an appointment, a meeting, teaching, writing, and the list could go on?

I (Jim) am not to that level yet, but after reading more from others, I am thinking of expanding this. But at the minimum, I take time to reflect on the many blessings and benefits of the previous year as it winds down to a close. Before I open the next chapter of life noted on the calendar as a new year, I reflect on decisions, opportunities, good and bad possibilities, challenges, relationships, etc.

Here are some basic guidelines:

Make space- Carve out of your calendar this time during the week. Often we are enjoying some down time, which is HUGE.  The older we get the more we cherish this time with family and friends, enjoying life and not allowing it to simply fly by. But during this time, it may be late at night, early morning, or a mid-morning or afternoon escape to focus on evaluating the past year.

Find a place-Where can you go to find this space of reflection? What does this place need to look like? It may be in a place of solitude; for us it is our back patio.

Some can focus in a busy location but just not know anyone there so you are not interrupted. It may need to include headphones to put on music to quiet everything else out in life.

Get comfortable-Comfortable setting, with coffee, a fireplace, a comfortable chair, only the noises of the outdoors, etc. Be in a comfortable setting with what comfort needs will help you.

Grab a Calendar-It might be good to have a calendar to remind you of some of the events, good and challenging.  We often remember those major events but what about other significant events that happened early in the year that could have slipped your mind:  A reminder of that special vacation, a date night with your spouse, wonderful family time, a business meeting/trip that went very well, a great sales call, a terrific contact or connection that you still don’t know how it happened, or even an appointment that seemed more of a waste than a value.

What did you learn? How can you thank God for those opportunities or obstacles? What can you review to learn from and be thankful for another year alive? Walk through each month to remember, reflect, and be grateful.

Carl Sandberg said, “It is necessary … for a man to go away by himself … to sit on a rock … and ask, ‘Who am I, where have I been, and where am I going?”

When you are ready with all of the above, here are four steps to help your time be productive:

Review-Look over the year with calendar in hand and be reminded.

Reflect-Take time to remember these events and process the year.

Re-evaluate-Not only reflect, but think about how these events, meetings, family times, etc. were beneficial and growth giving. What do you want to make sure you continue, stop, increase or decrease, and/or change?

Celebrate-There are many of those calendar events that will make you smile and cause you to celebrate your life. Enjoy these and celebrate the life you have lived for another year. Be grateful to God for His blessing of life to you.

Here is our challenge to all of us:

Now, we would encourage you to not only do this once a year, but am learning huge value in doing this on a smaller scale — once a month, once a week, and even a few minutes once a day. Yes, all of these. Take some time to block out a day to  for this each month. Take some time during a day in a week to review and reflect. And take a few minutes each day to evaluate. This can go into your 2014 planning which we will discuss in our next blog.

What do you need to do to start now? Review the past, be reminded about it, learn from it, and be grateful for the many blessings of another year?

~Happy New Year, Jim and Jerolyn

Carl Sandberg quote-goodreads.com

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