It's the end of the year and I've been spending a lot of time with clients who are already thinking about 2016. This is a good thing, but part of new beginnings is properly honoring and learning from the previous year. I find that we are eager to start over, but without a good look at what has been, our fresh starts are not as effective.
In this post, I want to share some resources and ideas for exploring 2015 so you can create a great 2016. Some are more "head" and some are more "heart." You want to make room for both when you're closing out your year.
Make the Space
Before I get into some specifics, I want to emphasize the importance of setting aside the time for reflection. People are so swamped at the end of the year, closing out reports, etc. and it's easy to decide that any kind of end-of-year reflection isn't worth the time. So you put it off and the next thing you know, you've entered the next year and it's time to focus on what's ahead, rather than what you've learned from the previous year.
But properly closing out the previous year--not just in submitting final reports, but really exploring what you've learned--is key to starting anew. So make the time and keep it sacred. Don't give into the temptation to blow it off.
Facilitate End-of-Year Team Debriefs
The Design Gym has a great post on 5 ways to facilitate end-of-year team debriefs. I particularly like the Impact vs. Enthusiasm debrief, where the team looks at the impact of various projects and initiatives and their enthusiasm in working on them.
It seems like it would be a rich discussion to have a team thinking about what makes something impactful and exciting and how they could find new high impact/high enthusiasm projects to work on. I also think this is a debrief you could do on your own, to explore your own work and life in the past year.
Don't assume that you have to be the supervisor or team leader to do these kinds of team debriefs. What would happen if you convened something like this with your peers?
Ask Some Juicy Questions
A couple of years ago, I ran a December series of 30 Juicy Questions to Grow Your Life. Many of them were more "future-focused" but there were also some that were about looking back, including:
- What Gifts of Passage Have You Received This Year?
- What is the "no" that you keep postponing?
- What good things need to fall apart to make room for something better?
- Have you been harvesting from this year's season of life?
These are more "heart-oriented," and I think add another dimension to your end-of-year ritual.
Go Through Your PD for the Year
Most professionals have attended conferences, webinars, trainings, etc. You may also have read various books and articles along the way. Take some time to go through your professional development experiences from the previous year. Jot down notes and key learnings. Also notice trends and themes--where have you been focused?
Take note, too, of how much of this learning has been self-directed and how much was based on your employer's priorities? Is it time to create a change in that balance and pursue more self-directed learning?
Make an Advice Wall
One fun way to engage your office-mates in reflecting on the previous year would be to create an Advice Wall. Do this on a white board or with Post-Its and invite colleagues to share their best end-of-year advice--what do you want to remember from this previous year to take with you into the next year? What advice do you want to give your future selves?
Add Some "Appreciation Time" to your End-of-Year Staff Meetings
Set aside time in staff meetings to express appreciation for each of your teammates. Focus on or two people per meeting and have everyone identify what they appreciate about that colleague from the past year. This is a fantastic way to acknowledge the contributions of each person, as well as to highlight some of their successes from throughout the year.