It’s quiet as I sit with my morning coffee on my back patio. The only sounds have been those of finches chirping as they flit through the tress around me. I have spent the last couple of hours alone with my thoughts and journal reflecting over this last year.

In some ways it is hard to believe it is already December. But after the turbulent rollercoaster ride of 2020, I think most of us are ready to turn the corner on a new year.

The practice of year end reflection and goal setting has been an important discipline of mine for several years now and has made a significant difference in my leadership and life. 

Did your goals get thrown out the window in light of the constant change and uncertainty of this last year? Or were you able to adapt and accomplish better results than expected?

Wherever you find yourself today – stuck by the obstacles in your path, or pleased with your progress, it is time to start thinking about the new year ahead.

One of the topics I coach on frequently is the power of reflection. Reflection is important as it provides you context to better prepare for a successful future.

Let me share some reflection questions to help you get started:

1. As you think about the last year, what were your biggest accomplishments? If you set goals for yourself, review them to identify which ones you achieved, and which ones were missed.

2. Why were you successful? It is something to be proud of when you accomplish a goal you set for yourself, but when you understand why and how you accomplished it, it helps you to sustain better results for the future.

3. Why did you miss? Sometimes it is easier to ignore the goals you did not make; however, every miss is an opportunity to learn and grow. There may be a higher priority that took precedence, and this is a valid reason for putting a goal aside. The other reason can be circumstances that occur beyond your control.

If it does not fit under these categories, unpack the causes to why the goal was not accomplished. Here are a few likely culprits:

  • The goal was not realistic
  • The goal was not clearly defined
  • There was not an accountability plan

If one of these three occurred, you can learn from each situation and improve your future goal setting results.

4. What was your biggest shift? A lot happened this year that was unexpected and it made it necessary to pivot either personally or professionally. You may have made changes without really thinking about it that will have significant impact. Where did you make a shift this year that has had a positive result?

5. What was the lesson? In challenging times, it is easy to miss the lessons amidst the difficulties. In facing the obstacles of my own life, I have found that they have been my greatest teachers. Observe where you have grown, and what you have learned this year. Even if it is something you learned the hard way – it can be instrumental to your future.

I encourage you to set aside time for reflection this month. This is the first step to effective goal setting for 2021. The new year is ahead, and with it a new beginning.

It’s time to get started.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.” – Arthur Ashe


  • Janelle Bruland

    Entrepreneur, Leadership Coach, Author, Speaker, Podcast Host, & Co-Founder of Legacy Leader

    Janelle Bruland is an entrepreneur, author, speaker, and high-performance coach who inspires others to live impactful and successful lives. She is Founder and CEO of Management Services Northwest, a company she started in her living room in 1995 and has grown into an industry leading company, named one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies by Inc. magazine. The CPO of Microsoft, Mike Simms, describes her as a true pioneer in her field. Janelle is also the Co-Founder of Legacy Leader, a leadership development company that teaches business professionals how to build a legacy, transform their leadership, and love their life. She is the author of The Success Lie: 5 Simple Truths to Overcome Overwhelm and Achieve Peace of Mind.
    Janelle is a lifelong resident of Whatcom County, Washington and is married with five children. In her leisure time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, golf, as well as keeping fit through various sports and activities.