Wasn’t it just September?

I swear, it’s like time has passed me by. I had all these plans for the year that I absolutely didn’t do… Oh, wait. That’s because I COMPLETELY changed plans on what I wanted to do. Never mind.

So, in the spirit of making the most of time yet to come and the time we’ve already lived, I invite you on this retrospective journey with me. (If you love journaling, get out your pen and paper, because it’s time to do your thinking with your fingers!)

Question 1: What awesome stuff have you achieved lately?

Answer guidance: I try to do this on a weekly basis, so mine often include things like “successfully cooked dinner five nights this week” and “reveled in four yoga classes” and “read two library books.” (I’m big on numbers. They feel measurable.)

But it’s also got work stuff like “coordinated and sent out market research surveys” and “e-mailed mailing list consistently.” If you haven’t done this in a while, look back to the beginning of November and start from there.

The goal of the exercise: Not only is it an instant hit of “Yay!” to see how productive you’ve been, this also tends to minimize feelings of impostor syndrome and worries that you’re not doing enough. Now you can see what you’re actually doing. (And maybe it gives you an idea of what you want to change.)

Question 2: Pretend it’s the end of the year already, and you’re at a holiday party. What three things do you want someone to mention when introducing you to a stranger?

Answer guidance: If this is a fun social party, maybe your best friend is about to introduce you to someone who is going to join your book club. You want her to talk about the book review blog you started this year, that you took a wine-making course at the local community college, and that you are also looking to join a band.

Alternatively, if this is a work party, you want your boss to introduce you to one of the client invitees as the company’s most valuable accountant. You single-handedly saved a large pharmaceutical company from ruin, co-wrote a textbook on tech IPOs, and learned to speak German fluently from online courses. You can pick what kind of party it is.

The goal of the exercise: Some of these will be things you’ve already done, but others might be things you didn’t know were important to you. You’ve still got two months left! You still have time to make sure everyone relevant knows you have done this laudatory stuff and to get out there and make your ideal life a reality. (Okay, you probably can’t become fluent in German in two months, but you can get to a basic level of ability – enough to already be impressive and start you off strong for next year’s language goal.)

It doesn’t matter when you start looking at goals and achievements. The best time to start a new project is when you’re excited about it, and the best time to reflect on what’s gone well (or poorly) is when you haven’t in a while.

The calendar gives us reminders (New Year’s resolutions, anyone?), but that’s just a guideline. Don’t wait until December to look back at the year, and don’t wait until January 1 to jump into something you’re ready for now.

Originally published on Ellevate.

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