Looking Back to Move Forward—Focus & Goals

Choosing a descriptive title for this week’s topic was difficult. After all, does it make sense that you look backwards in order to move forward with your life and plans? You decide after reading!

Just this week, I decided to fill out one of those introspective, intrusive forms that previously I’ve avoided for several reasons:

  • I might have to turn off tv and other distractions and think really hard
  • Perhaps it would make me uncomfortable – after all, it asked me to write down not only my accomplishments, but also my mistakes
  • What good would it really do to spend a couple hours of my time doing this exercise?

So I went through the form and started writing down the good things and the not so good things from 2010 and then I was instructed to write down what I’d learned from them. It was easier to remember and write down my disappointments/mistakes than it was my accomplishments. That’s probably true for many people. But think how valuable keeping a spreadsheet on these very things could be over the years. They are only valuable when you look back and learn from your history.desk items

The writing down of my accomplishments, even though there was nothing really major, brought a feeling of achievement that was gratifying and made me want to stretch myself to achieve yet more in 2011. The purpose of writing down my mistakes wasn’t to make me feel bad or stupid, but to learn from them. The act of writing down what could be learned will hopefully stay with me longer since it’s in writing. Perhaps if I take it out once a quarter and look at my ‘lessons’, it’ll keep me from doing them again. After all, that was the purpose!

The exercise continued with a look at the things that held me back in 2010 (not that hard to compile this list!), and then concluded with the challenge to list what I would do this year to make it better than the last. This section really smacks of setting goals and dedicating deliberately focused time and effort to achieve them.

After I finished, I felt that I’d accomplished something pretty major and decided it wasn’t all that painful after all. Here are my take-aways and hopefully if you haven’t done one of these surveys/introspective exercises, you might want to try one. Here are some bullet points I hope will be helpful to you:

  • Personal growth happens by exerting a true effort
  • Begin or maintain a yearly record of successes and mistakes – it can serve as both a diary and timeline of growth for you personally or your business
  • Take the time to write down lessons learned from mistakes or oversights
  • Decide what steps you’ll take to accomplish things next (yes, otherwise called goals)
  • Take your goals out often and refer to them frequently. Are you scheduling action items every week to accomplish your goals? Break things down into smaller pieces to accomplish them

Maybe some of you routinely review your personal and business accomplishments. Please leave a comment on what it’s done for you. Thanks.

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