Stop! Before Launching 2016, Reap Rewards from 2015

by | Jan 3, 2016

USNAbridgeHave you ever noticed that little bits of wisdom show up in the most unexpected places? I love when that happens. It was an overcast New Year’s Eve morning as my girlfriends and I met for our morning run. The Chesapeake Bay glistened silvery and still as we jogged alongside.

As we marveled at our good fortune to live in such a beautiful place, our talk turned to the upcoming New Year’s Eve party that would ring in 2016. “But first,” Sharyn said, “I want us to celebrate 2015.” And there it was. A little moment of wisdom.

The next day my husband, Mike, and I sat down to discuss our business and personal goals for 2016. “Wait,” I said, “let’s take a moment to celebrate 2015.” We did and we learned more than I expected.

As one year winds down, it’s easy to leap ahead to the next year. Instead, pause to consider 2015. Your brain can’t retain everything; reflection helps the brain identify the important bits. That’s where learning comes from. Even if you already set your New Year’s resolutions and 2016 goals personally, professionally or both, it’s not too late to take a moment to rejoice in and learn from 2015.

Really…it only takes a moment.

What went well in 2015? Maybe it’s hard to give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Get over that (I’m speaking to me on this, too). First of all, if a project, business approach, or more communication with your spouse went well, then you want to do more of it. You have to know what “it” is. Specifically look for activities that pushed you outside of your comfort zone. What worked? Unless you give your brain an atta-boy it easily falls back into old patterns instead of shifting to the rewarded behavior. Take a moment…right now to celebrate you. Congratulations.

What could have gone better? If everything you try succeeds, then you aren’t pushing your boundaries enough. There must be something (or several somethings) that didn’t work out the way you hoped. What were they and why didn’t it go as you wished? For example, our business grew again last year (that went well) and I had an exhausting travel schedule that left little time to create and reflect. The balance between work and reflection could have gone better. What is it for you?

What surprised you? What were the moments, situations, events, or person that gave you an aha-moment – positive or not? Maybe you took some time off and the world didn’t come to an end. Did you give your kid more freedom and they rose to the occasion with self-responsibility? Did you try a new marketing approach that fell flat? In my case, I spent 2015 studying neuroscience and learned that when the brain gets tired, it’s best to take a break. So, I tried it. When I felt over-whelmed by the tasks due TODAY, I stopped and took a break. Do you have any idea how hard it is to face a pile of commitments, feel compelled to speed up, and instead stop for a break? Of course you do. I was surprised to discover that this stuff works! I was more productive after a short break than if I’d plowed ahead.

What surprised you?

Lastly, what did you learn from answering these questions that informs next year? Hopefully, this short thought process gifted you with unexpected wisdom. And, you didn’t have to go on a run! Because, it was right there inside you the whole time.


Author Byline: Founder and CEO of Blue Fjord Leaders, Shelley Row P.E. CSP, was named by Inc. Magazine as one of the top 100 leadership speakers. Professional engineer and former senior executive, she was recognized as one of the best minds in advanced traffic management systems.

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