I’m going to show you how to have your best year ever. I love new beginnings, don’t you? I like the beginning of a month, the beginning of a new quarter, the beginning of football season, the beginning of a new season of Archer, that moment of anticipation when I open a new book… all of it! Because now is an excellent time to plan for the best year ever.

And I love that I get to decide to begin a new year whenever I want. Like right now. I know this time of year can also bring stress, but for me it’s all about energy. And possibilities. And the freshness of turning a page, literally and figuratively.

Plan to Have Your Best Year Ever

If you aren’t as excited as I am, I want to see if I can change that. (No, you don’t have to be just like me.) I simply want to remove any stress and recrimination you are holding onto based on last year. Because there is nothing we can do about LAST year…. More on that in a moment.

You will get much better results if you focus on how to have the best year ever. As in, the year that is to come. Because you can do a LOT about that year, as opposed to the year that is gone. We are going to wave bye-bye to last year, but before we go let’s take a moment to actually evaluate what happened. Am I the only person who sometimes forgets to be still and pay attention to what has happened? I am often so focused on the next task, the next project, the next milestone, that I have to make a conscious effort to stop and look backwards. Toward that end…

Why Do We Need to Look Back?

Because I said so. OK, I hope you pictured me laughing REALLY hard as I typed that. In truth, before you move forward with goals for the new year, it’s important to evaluate the last year. Why? Because you can gain valuable insights that will help you achieve your goals when you pause to reflect. I work with 2 marketing wizards who are all about gaining insights and learning from previous efforts, so I suspect they have infected my thinking a bit but in the best possible way.

So let’s look back, but you have to approach this evaluation of the past 365 days with a specific mindset.

DO NOT: Take this opportunity to crap on yourself.
This isn’t about making harsh judgements or obsessing about failed projects. You do not have permission to use this time to mentally beat yourself up. Your confidence assassin is out of town until you complete this. How can you have the best year ever if you start off being mean to yourself? You cannot gain anything valuable by shaming yourself for past mistakes.

DO: Look for directional insights.
Focus your evaluation time on looking for patterns and trends that impacted your progress. It’s best to handle your evaluation as if you were reviewing a friend’s year. With that level of detachment, you’ll be more open to learning from the process and you will be appropriately kind. You wouldn’t spend any time thinking of ways to shame and shred a friend would you? You would? How many friends do you have? LOL

A Successful Look Back Isn’t an Accident

I love it when Paul B. Evans says, Success is Not an Accident, because it’s true. And because I adore him. So let’s agree to create the right environment to successfully look back so we can have the best year ever.

Find Peace and Quiet:
Make sure you begin your evaluation in a quiet, calm environment. If you’re trying to evaluate your year while simultaneously cooking dinner, answering emails, and watching television, I predict trouble. Your assessment of the last year may not be clear and you may miss important realizations.

For something as important as gathering insights to help you have your best year ever, you’ll want to do it in a quiet space. You may also want to play soft instrumental music, log into Brain.fm or to turn on a white noise machine. These tools really help me focus and help me get into a critical thinking frame of mind.

Limit Interruptions:
Please silence your phone and log off of social media. It won’t hurt, I promise. The constant dings from your cell and social sites can be distracting and you may find it difficult to get back on track after several non-important, but seemingly urgent interruptions.

Plan for Prime Time:
Pick your best time of day to do your review. If you’re a morning person, bless your heart, you will probably be too exhausted at the end of your day to give your full attention to this evaluation. You should to try to schedule your review during a time when you feel alert and energized.

Take Your Time:
You get to make the rules, so you can decide to break your review up into smaller chunks of time. You don’t have to dedicate five hours out of a single day to this project. You can choose to break your sessions up instead. Many people find that one hour sessions are best. It gives you plenty of time to reflect on your year without causing you to feel overwhelmed.

Get a Coach if you Need One

If you find doing this year evaluation difficult or complicated, it might be best to get help from a good coach. Your coach can help you approach your year in review with a more positive attitude and make sure you don’t miss anything.

In addition, with a coach’s guidance, you’ll be able to more easily identify the lessons that you’ve learned in the past 365 days so that you can leverage them to have your best year ever.

Allegra Sinclair is a professional coach and confidence expert. She hates to see women living small and loves to help them change how they show up in the world.

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