Reflecting on 2016: 16 guidelines for leveraging lessons and opportunities

By Marius Meyer

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As most people enjoy the holiday season, it is time to reflect on the successes, challenges and opportunities of the year.  The skill of reflection is very important for all talented employees.  It helps you to sit back and say: What worked and what did not work?  Ultimately you want to draw on the lessons of 2016 to become even better next year.

However, few people leverage the opportunity of reflection, especially after they have experienced a particularly tough year such as 2016.  Making some time to do serious reflecting is not only useful to get closure on the year, it is really a good first step towards setting yourself up for success the next year.  If you can do some serious introspection on the lessons of the year, perhaps where you made some mistakes as we all do, but more importantly identifying good opportunities for doing things better the next year, this form of reflection ensures that you reposition yourself as a more effective person going forward.  Here are  list of 16 guidelines for reflecting on 2016:

  1. Reflect on your successes. Write down all the good things that happened to you.
  2. Review your challenges and mistakes and identify opportunities for improvement and development.
  3. Identify all the people who made a difference in your life – colleagues, staff, friends and family and write a personal note to all of them who contributed to your success.
  4. Reflect on the balance in your life – did you really make sufficient time for all the things you like apart from your work commitments?
  5. Identify all the obstacles you encountered and reflect on how well you managed to deal with these stumbling blocks in your life.
  6. Think about all the interesting clients or places you visited throughout the year and consider how these unique experiences enriched your life.
  7. Write down the names of your top five relationships and treasure how these interactions helped you to be successful during the year.
  8. Identify the highlight of the year – what was that one or two achievements or incidents that made this year memorable?
  9. Think about all the new people you met this year and identify the one or two who really impressed you and see how you learned from this experience.
  10. Consider any regrets you had this year and think about ways of turning this around next year, if possible.
  11. Be honest with yourself by identifying what you learned about yourself this year that you need to stop doing or changing your behaviour in becoming more successful.
  12. Identify opportunities you missed out on this year such as a lost opportunity and consider how you can make up for that next year.
  13. Think about your worst disappointment this year and reflect on the lessons from it so that you can get closure on it.
  14. Consider the extent to which you achieved your goals for the year.
  15. It is possible that you neglected key relationships this year and decide on how you will change that next year.
  16. Reflect on the extent you have grown as a person this year and indicate how much development you still need to achieve your career goals.

Reflecting on 2016 brings you to one key question: Was 2016 a successful year for you?  If so, well done, you made it!  If not, don’t despair, the next opportunity is around the corner – the new year 2017 that will present new chances for using your talent to achieve even greater things than the year before.  Build on your successes and work through your challenges.  I also realise that talented employees are hard on themselves, they are achievement orientated and want to attain great things despite the challenges and negative things around us.  And of course,  your organisation culture, politics and the broader socio-economic environment may not always be conducive to good work. But as I always say to my staff and students: Yes, life is hard, but you are harder!


Marius Meyer is CEO of the SA Board for People Practices (SABPP).



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