Looking Backward To Inform Our Path Forward
Here we are again. We’ve made another trip around the sun, we’re starting to wind things down, but there’s a TON of things going on. It’s an extraordinarily busy time of year, and it’s very easy to get caught up in the commotion of buying gifts, sending cards, planning visits to family, and so on. However, as a high performer it’s critically important engage in some intentional downtime that involves a two part process:
Part 1 | Look Backward & Reflect
Part 2 | Look Forward & Goal Set
Engaging in this exercise serves up tremendous benefits and allows you to go forward with greater intelligence, vision, purpose, and passion.
Part 1 | Look Backward & Reflect
Naturally, the first thing you should do is make a list of who all has wronged you over the past year, think about what those people put you through, ponder what they love most, and harness all or your rage to righteously claim your revenge by destroying what they love so you crush their spirit, and (if you’re revenging good enough) their soul. Some say revenge is a dish best served cold. I say revenge is better served with white hot rage and hatred. Just kidding… (internal monologue: but it’s a bit concerning if I’m being honest how easily all of that poured out of me. Maybe I should look into that. Nah, I’ll just stuff it down deeeeeeeeeeep and sprinkle a bit of “I’m fine” on top)
In all seriousness a ton of stuff happened to all of us in 2021. As the global pandemic has progressed we’ve all had to deal with different challenges across many aspects of our professional and personal lives. However, if you’re reading this then that means you still have breath in your lungs, and that’s something that hundreds of thousands of other people can’t say. With that being said, if your a high performer or if high-performance is something you aspire towards it’s incredibly important that you intentionally pause and reflect on your 2021 experience. The rationale here is that you want to take stock of what you’ve learned so you can put that knowledge into action as you plan ahead.
I’m breaking up this blog into a two part series where this part one is all about helping guide you through the process of how high performers intentionally reflect so they can further their capacity as being a dangerously effective person. To that end I’ve got a six point framework to help guide you through the process. Here we go…
The 6 Part High Performance Reflection Framework
- Be Open | Don’t Judge
- Take Stock of Impactful Experiences
- What Are You Proud Of
- What Are You Not So Proud Of
- What Knowledge Did You Gain
- Practice Intentional Gratitude
1. Be Open | Don’t Judge
Before you approach the process of reflection (meditation may be the better word) be intentional about setting your mind to a state of openness. All too often, and I’m speaking about myself too here, we jump straight into a mindset of judgement when it comes to things. Be mindful that you may be tempted to immediately start passing judgement on everything, but pump the breaks on that. Approach your reflection process with a mindset of total openness as this will invite a state of flow into your process that will add value to your experience.
2. Take Stock of Impactful Experiences
With your mind set to a state of openness, and keeping judgement at bay, allow yourself to reflect on what was impactful to you over the past year. Let your thoughts flow with this in mind as you are seeking out was was truly meaningful to you. Again, you’re not saying whether something is “good” or “bad”, rather you’re just saying that these experiences carried meaning and weight in your life.
3. What are you proud of
Again without applying judgement, let your mind wander over these impactful and meaningful experiences and ask yourself which of these experiences made you feel proud. Another way to think of this is which of these experiences contributed to your sense of self-worth or self-confidence. What is it specifically about these experiences that contributes to you feeling proud?
4. What are you not so proud of
Now, revisit these impactful experiences with the filter of what are you not so proud of, and then openly ponder what is it about these experiences that make you feel this way.
5. What knowledge did you gain
Here we are now to one of the most important steps and that’s looking back on what you learned from these impactful and meaningful experiences. What knowledge have you gained that you would not otherwise have if it were not for these experiences.
6. Practice Intentional Gratitude
Your mind is not too different than a google search in that your brain will return results whatever it is you’re searching for. In other words, If you’re searching for the negative, your brain will return those search results. Conversely, if you’re searching for the positive, you’ll find that. With that in mind move on to the final step of the reflection process.
Take all that you’ve learned through this process and position your mind so that you can take a 10,000 foot view of it all. As you survey and take stock of the findings begin to shift your mindset to a state of intentional gratitude. While some of these experiences made you feel good and others bad, all of these impactful and meaningful experiences uniformly carry the gift of knowledge. If you are intentional about showing gratitude, and reserving judgement through the entire process, you can see these experiences and the knowledge that they carried as the gifts that they are.
Being a high performer is all about being intentional with your efforts, learning from your experiences, strategically applying fresh knowledge, and then giving it another go. It’s the end of the year and as such it’s a wonderful time to reflect on your experiences with a clear head and open mind. Survey what’s been impactful, and grab whatever lessons you’ve learned. Most importantly, make a point of having a mindset of intentional gratitude regarding your experiences.
In Part 2 of this installment we’re going to set our sights forward towards thinking about what you want out of the next year. It takes some reflection and intentional gratitude-based goal setting, but it will be worth your while in the end. By reflecting on this past year and positioning yourself for a new one with an open mind, without judgement or preconceived notions, you’ll have more clarity on how to get where you need to go. What outcome do you hope for? Who are going after? And what would make you feel good about that outcome? Ask these questions as they pertain specifically to your professional life and personal life separately before coming together at the end of this process with a clearer vision of both areas moving forward into 2022. In doing so, not only will set goals that are achievable and realistic, but they will also be in line with your values. Stay tuned for Part 2 where we’ll explore how to put all of this into action.
Oh, and don’t forget; be kind to yourself!