For the past few years, one of the most important things I’ve been doing between November and January is having some “me time” to reflect on the past year and plan the for the next 12 months. And I’m not talking about “New Year’s resolutions.” I gave up on resolutions years ago for one simple reason — they don’t work! Well, at least not for me.

Recently I’ve read several articles talking about the importance of reflecting on our experiences whether professional, personal, positive or negative and the positive impact this has on us. Don’t underestimate the importance of taking some time to reflect on where you are, what you learned, and where you want to go

Reflecting could be as simple as writing down (journaling) what you learned after a difficult (or exciting) experience, or what you’ve accomplished in your career over the past year.

It doesn’t have to be complicated or long. The goal is to sit down, write your thoughts often and in the process, you will gain a more meaningful and balanced understanding of what’s going on in your life.

One of the most important questions you can ask yourself, especially nearing the end of the year or the beginning of a new one is,

‘What do you really want?’

It might sound too simple, but that doesn’t mean it’s not effective.  I suspect a lot of people don’t really know what they want. They know what they don’t like. But knowing what you don’t want is not the same as knowing what you do want. 

Knowing what you don’t want is important, but it’s only half of the puzzle. The other half is knowing what you do want and even then you still need clarity which is where most of stop.

For example, maybe you know you have to change your diet, do more cardio exercises (like me), or sleep more (me again!). 

But that’s not clear enough. Without a clear understanding of what you want it’s difficult to see it and to get after it.

Instead of wanting to eat healthier, a better objective is to eat at least two servings of vegetables with lunch and dinner at three times per week.

See the difference? I can just see and taste the veggies…

Instead of just saying ‘I want to sleep more’ get more specific. How many hours of additional sleep do you need? By when you need to go to bed?

I will sleep a minimum of 7 hours per night by shutting down electronics at 9:00 PM, and be in bed by 9:30 pm and will set my timer for 7 hours. 

See why clarity is so important? The clearer you are about what you want the easier it is to plan for it. 

Clarity helps you focus. Take some time to get clear on what you want over the next 12 months. Your future self will thank you.