2021 in Reflection

Photo Credit: Tasha Herrgott at Red Bird Hills, redbirdhills.com

Hi friends, we’re one week closer to finishing 2021. Time is flying by, sometimes it goes so fast it overwhelms me. I’m at a stage with my boys where I just want time to stand still. I want them to stay little and with me forever. I want them to always run off the bus and greet me with a huge hug. I want them to always love making a snow fort immediately after a snowfall. I want them to love being at home saying prayers around the lit candles and Christmas Tree. I want to always look back on my life and know I lived it with purpose. This isn’t a dress rehearsal. As Glennon Doyle says, “this is your one and precious life.” Be intentional. Live your life on purpose. Love your one and precious life.

For that reason, I want to take time to think about I will finish the year well. Without a plan, I typically don’t finish well or start the following year well for that matter. If  you think this is about achieving some crappy goals that only serve the world’s idea of who you’re supposed to be, it’s not. Finishing well is all about looking back knowing I lived life on purpose.

As I think about finishing the year well, five components need to be part of the plan. This isn’t just a “year-end” system. This could be your system for finishing the day well. Whether it’s reflecting on my day or year, this is how I think about it.  

  1. Your plan to cross the Finish Line, SPRINT if you must.
  2. Your plan to Reflect. What went well? What didn’t go as well that needs to be left in 2021?
  3. Your plan to review your Systems to make sure you sustain your results and wellness into the new year. Or – adjust them.  
  4. Your plan for Celebration and Gratitude.
  5. Your Plan to Kick Off 2022 grounded in your Mission, Vision and Values (MVV) with clear goals.

The first component for me to finish well is my plan to cross the finish line – how will you follow through on the commitments you made to yourself. You are someone that reaches their goals. Believing that is the first step in reaching your goals. If you haven’t read my previous post yet, you can find it here.

The second component is a plan for reflection. Reflection to me is so important, it deserves its own time. It shouldn’t be rushed. It deserves a beautiful glass of wine or a delicious cup of coffee or tea. On the flip side, sometimes I have the tendency to make things too precious. You don’t need to be sitting at a sidewalk café in Paris or reflecting as you’re watching the waves roll into a Mexican beach for this to be meaningful. This isn’t a marriage proposal. It doesn’t have to be perfect. Carve out an hour or so and put pen to paper reflecting on 2021. I like to start high level at 30,000 feet and then narrow in on the more specific goals.  

  1. What did I love, learn and what will I leave behind?
  2. Values: how did they show up in 2021?
  3. Goals: did I align on the right goals to help me live on purpose?

Love – Learn – Leave Behind

Last year, as part of reflecting on 2020, I did an exercise that really helped me reflect broadly on the year. For the life of me, I can’t remember where I learned these prompts (if you developed these prompts, let me know so I can give you credit). Set a timer for five minutes, keep your pen on the paper and write the things that come to mind within these three questions. What did I love? What did I learn? What will I leave behind?

Set the time again for five minutes. Keep writing until the time goes off. What did you love in 2021?

I loved a renewed commitment to creativity. I loved meeting new friends that I adore and respect. I loved carving out more time for my relationship with God. I loved relearning how to pray. I loved defining my own professional success. I loved finding new business opportunities. I loved fighting and conquering my fears. I loved being available for my family. I loved reading more books. I loved investing in my development. I loved myself more than I ever have. I loved my daily gratitude practice.

Set the time again for five minutes. Keep writing until the time goes off. What did you learn?

I learned a framework for prayer in my bible study this year. I learned all about the speaking industry. I relearned how much I love people when I’m not emotionally and mentally exhausted. I learned to love myself and my body in a deeper way. I learned the need for belonging. I learned how to let go of an identity and career that no longer served me with gratitude and love. I also learned to honor that work and the relationships that supported that work. I learned how to serve my church family in a new way. I relearned that reflecting on my values daily helps me make better decisions.

Set the time again for five minutes. Keep writing until the time goes off. What will you leave in 2021?

I’m leaving behind fear and anxiety. I’m leaving behind environments and communities that aren’t healthy for me anymore. I’m leaving behind self-doubt that slows down progress toward my goals (I’m replacing it with a system to encourage myself). I’m leaving behind relationships that are grounded in scarcity.

While this isn’t my entire list, it gives you an example. This exercise is powerful for me because it allows me to get clear on what needs to continue to be part of my life, it allows me to take stock in what I’m learning and how I’m developing, and it allows me to let go of what isn’t working.

Getting Grounded in my Values

In a year where I experienced a lot of change and needed to make some significant decisions, my values kept me grounded. I make much better decisions when I know and reflect on my values on a regular basis. There were days this summer when I asked myself multiple times an hour, will this decision help me show up in a way that is in alignment with what’s really important to me. If you are someone that hasn’t formally done a values assessment, it’s time. An easy and guided way to do this exercise is available through Think 2 Perform’s website. You can find it here. Once you’ve identified your top values, review each one and how they showed up in 2021. For me, my values are faith, family, health, excellence (stewarding my gifts to the best of my ability) and meaningful work (work with purpose).

  • Did I prioritize my values?
  • From the outside looking in, would someone close to me know what my values were without me telling them?
  • What values were a priority for me this year? Where there one or more values that got pushed to the back burner by accident?
  • Is there one or more values that I want to prioritize in 2022?

What were my goals? Did I focus on the right things?

The last area of reflection for today is reflecting on the goals I set out to achieve. If I reached them, did they get me closer to my ideal self. Did they help step into more of who God designed me to be? One thing that is really hard to reflect on is realizing that I reached or exceeded significant goals that someone else set for me, but I didn’t reach the goals that were in alignment with my values, what’s most important to me. Sometimes this happens because of the nature of working for someone else. Their goals for us need to be prioritized and our work performance depends on it. However, here’s what I’ve learned about personal goals versus work goals (if you work for someone else). Sometimes, I’ve used the “work excuse” to justify why I didn’t reach my personal goals. What I’ve found is when I’m living in alignment with my values, I perform better in other areas of my life. When I’m healthy from a faith perspective, when I’m prioritizing my family, when I’m exercising and eating well and prioritizing my mental health, when I’m living in excellence being a good steward of my gifts, guess what??? I freaking perform better in my work. I kick ass at work when I’m living in alignment with my values. I make better decisions as a leader. I can focus on developing others when I’m not in scarcity mode in my own life. I can lead with more empathy when I’m not experiencing regret or even worse, shame around my values. When I’m not performing well in my work, whether I’m working for myself or for someone else, it’s often because I’m severely out of control with my values. It’s a direct path to burn out for me. Take time to evaluate the goals you set out to accomplish. Did you focus on the right goals? Where they in alignment with your values? No matter what the answer is, don’t judge yourself. Just be curious and learn, what can 2021 teach you?

See you next week to talk about Evaluating Your Systems!

I see you. I love you. I’m cheering you on!


Published by encourageherelena

My name is Elena and I'm the Chief Encourager at Encourage Her Elena. Encouraging Women in business, at home and in community is my passion. I'm an author, speaker, and coach. After almost twenty years in Financial Services (the ultimate male dominated industry), I realized that women need to hear another voice. They need to hear their own voice and step into exactly who they were made to be.

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