Why should we pause and reflect on the year that’s just finished before diving into the next one?

There are many reasons! Looking back can give some great insights into the things we might want to repeat, avoid, celebrate or improve on.

It also gives us a chance to see what’s possible when we start to look at what we want to achieve next year. We don’t have to keep repeating the same experiences!

A photo of Charlotte Ashley-Roberts
Charlotte Ashley-Roberts

We asked Transitions Coach, Charlotte Ashley Roberts, to answer questions on the best ways to reflect on the year we’re wrapping up. Charlie helps people to negotiate changes in their lives, careers and businesses with coaching programmes, detailed in Your Time to Grow

This is a transcript of the Q&A in the Drive the Network Facebook Group.

How to keep track of everything that happened

Rachel Extance-Virr If you’re looking at doing this and realise you can’t remember everything, what process would you put in place for 2020 to keep track through the year?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts My most successful has been my personal journal and my 12week year spreadsheet. I try and note down successes weekly but don’t always remember and have intention to do better next year.

Helen Lindop Printed planners have been really popular over the last few years, but I find them a bit restrictive. Do you recommend other ‘tools’ like mind maps etc?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts I tried mind mapping using an app but it doesn’t work as well for me unless it’s pen and paper. Some folks use bullet journals too. I like the Mynd Map Journal, but for structure I use Google sheets as they’re the most accessible.

Andy Boothman I’m definitely a pen and paper person, drawing stuff out, making lists seeing where things link etc, it’s a process that takes time, it always feels like it’s going to be much bigger and more complex than it turns out to be – but maybe that’s just me!

Helen Lindop Drawing it all out is great for showing up the things I want to drop in the coming year, too. Often the things you say ‘no’ to are at least as important as the things you say ‘yes’ to.

Andy Boothman Thor A Rain has a book that is only ever written in on New Years Eve when you look back over the past year and remind yourself of the successes, it’s also an opportunity to reflect where you can improve. I believe Thor has been doing this for over 10 years and I love the idea!

Thor A Rain I also built in a treat on the day! That magic afternoon moment on New Year’s Eve is one of my all-time favourite rituals.

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts  Wheels of life work well and I have a free workbook should anyone  want it.

What if things don’t work out as planned?

Helen Lindop This year and last I’ve made a point of reviewing the year just gone before I do any planning for the next. It’s been really helpful to clear my mind before moving on. Do you have some advice for giving ourselves a pat on the back even if things didn’t turn out as planned?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts My advice would be…look at what did go well. Were you resilient? Did you use your strengths in an unexpected way? Did you learn a lesson or make a difference? If it’s been a truly awful time with no redeeming features… acknowledge, accept and celebrate the fact it’s done when it’s over!

Rachel Extance-Virr I’ve started reading Your Best Year Yet again and did the first question about achievements over the past 12 months. It feels really awkward doing this. Thoughts like: “Who am I to see that as an achievement?” “Is that worth noting down?” How do you get past those icky thoughts?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts I think everything is worth noting down because it’s not necessarily about celebrating each thing per se but more about building habits and not rushing on to the next thing. Also, when you’re having a really rubbish day it’s about celebrating your survival! In terms of who you are…you’re a successful business woman. Imposter syndrome plays a part in all this too…so ask five people you trust to give you one thing to celebrate or be proud of. You can do it for them too. We’re all rubbish at this.

Helen Lindop I just treat it as a download. Write it all down as it comes to you and don’t judge it. Nobody needs to read it apart from you, anyway.

Don’t beat yourself up!

Andy Boothman What about the negative stuff? The things that didn’t quite go to plan, it’s all part of the learning curve but do you have any tips to prevent people beating themselves up even more than usual?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts There’s a number of things…

1️⃣ Remember it took {insert your fave role model} x attempts to {what they achieved} no-one does anything first time.

2️⃣ Acknowledge and accept the feelings of disappointment, anger, frustration etc. It’s ok to feel that way.

3️⃣ Look for the lesson. What can you do differently next time?

4️⃣ Was there anything to celebrate at all? If so look for that.

5️⃣ Make a plan using all that info and move on.

How to recognise the learning and celebrate!

Krishna Dhokia Solanki I definitely need to understand and manage how to look at my learnings, and even more so celebrate them! This year has been manic for me so I’ll be interested to see …

1️⃣ what I can do now or could have done after each “milestone”.

2️⃣ how do you keep up the momentum of the previous year (assuming it’s been a good one)?

3️⃣ If things do “slow down” (for whatever reason), how to you try not to feel bad about it?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts ok so …

1️⃣ Don’t worry about what you could have done…focus on what you’d like to do now. You can do anything. Sometimes I treat myself to some yummy chocolate, a new journal, a spa day. Other times I take a break from my business to reward my hard work. Entirely up to you.

2️⃣ I think the key is consistency. Motivation comes and goes, momentum can slow or stop. If it’s been a good year, reflect on what worked and do more of that and do it consistently.

3️⃣ Celebrate the slow times along with the faster times (when you’ll probably feel too busy to celebrate anyway!) Use them to catch your breath, to review, learn and plan. Life is full of ebb and flow ..there is no good or bad, there is just what there is and we can choose to see/do what we want.

Andy Boothman Should the ‘celebration’ be completely un-work related? Is it Ok to reward yourself with something that’s going to be useful/beneficial to both the business and you?

Charlotte Ashley-Roberts I think it is about choosing what makes you feel good and gives you focus and motivation for continuing your journey so if it’s not business related that’s ok too.

Andy Boothman The ‘feel good’ is where it’s at for me. Different times of year, different things, sometimes putting myself first, sounds selfish, but that can feel quite special and rewarding in itself. I feel it’s less about the cost of the celebration and more about the personal value.

Read more about how to how to celebrate successes on Charlie’s blog: 

How to celebrate your successes