With just a bit until the end of the year, it seems like a good time to start a wrap-up. 2020 has been extraordinary in many ways, accompanied by a significant amount of uncertainty and stress. For some businesses the year has brought new opportunities while others have had to find alternative ways for going ahead. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to take some time for reflection and summarising, so 2021 could kick off in an enthusiastic and hopeful vibe.
Do we need some reflection? Oh yes, we, humans, function the best with defined beginnings and endings. Ending a school year, a project or a chapter of our lives gives us a sense of accomplishment – and it feels great. The same goes for ending the year – it gives us an excellent opportunity to think about what has happened over the past 12 months. It applies the same way for individuals and groups, so you could consider reflecting together with your team. First of all, it is an option to share experiences and learn from each other, but it also unites people, helps them to feel accomplished and take pride in their efforts.
As the physical meetups and Christmas parties with the team are rather not recommended, a virtual get-together could go a long way. To carry out that kind of session with your team, you do not need too much preparation. Just invite everyone to a (virtual) meeting and open up a conversation about the year, what were the brightest moments, the funniest situations and the most challenging parts. The atmosphere should be open and friendly and could also give a chance to reflect and express their thoughts. Keep the focus on the current year and not too much about what is going to happen in 2021.
As we also have personal goals, some of them are not related to work-life, self-reflection is an excellent way to analyse ourselves. According to an article published at Harvard Business Review reflection is about careful thought. „The most useful reflection involves the conscious consideration and analysis of beliefs and actions for the purpose of learning. Reflection allows the brain to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning. This meaning becomes learning, which can then inform future mindsets and actions. For leaders, this “meaning-making” is crucial to their ongoing growth and development,“ according to executive coach Jennifer Porter.
Reflection should not be “on the table“ only a few times a year but could be considered as a valuable daily practice. Research carried out in call centres demonstrated that employees who spent 15 minutes at the end of the day reflecting about lessons learned performed 23% better after ten days than those who did not reflect. A study of UK commuters found a similar result when those who were prompted to use their commute to think about and plan for their day were happier, more productive, and less burned out than people who didn’t.
Taking time to analyse what has taken place gives us an overview of the ups and downs of the year. Here are some thoughts and suggestions about how to reflect on 2020.
Celebrate the biggest successes
2020 has been full of challenges; still, there are some positive outcomes worth celebrating. Maybe your team grew closer, or you managed to hire new team members? What about personal successes – perhaps you had a healthier diet or had the time to learn something new?
What went wrong?
To get the refection of 2020 in balance, identify at least three shortcomings and think how it has influenced you or your team. What can you learn from these situations? The answers might be useful hints about the goals and plans for the next year.
What got you really excited?
During the last 12 months, did you experience something fascinating that made your eyes sparkle and energy going? Maybe it was a new project at work or a skill you were working on? Travelling in a new destination or discovering unknown paths near home? Whatever it was, it might be worthwhile to continue with it in 2021.
What did you miss?
It might be more of a personal than a business-related question, but it is worth to think about - what are the things you wanted but didn’t do or experience enough this year? Maybe you missed spending time with your friends or family because you were worried about the job? Or maybe due to home office arrangement you missed working more closely with your team, and it left you less motivated? Figuring out the things you are missing might give the right nudge for next year.
Say thank you!
We do not operate alone - not in work-life nor in personal life. There are probably appreciated clients and co-operation partners from 2020, reliable team members who helped to reach new highs with your trade or your family and friends who have supported you throughout the year. Take the time to make a list of those people, let them know that you are grateful. Being thankful is a very powerful emotion and sets just the right tone for a better next year.
Take some time off
Having a week or two during the holiday season for recharging could give you the restart you need for greeting 2021 with full energy. If possible, do not start making detailed business plans for 2021 just yet. Instead set an out-of-office reply to your e-mail and take some time off. Christmas is a magical holiday to be spent with family and friends walking outside, baking and cooking, enjoying your hobbies, reading and playing. And doing it all in a slow pace with the people you care about is the best way to get ready for the new challenges ahead.