What did you learn from this past year?


It’s the last day of the year and there’s no doubt it was unlike any other in 2020.

This has brought problems that we could never have expected, and I’m sure a lot of people out there can’t wait to draw a line and start fresh in 2021.

I love that a new year always brings with it a new wave of optimism and positivity, and the expected introduction of the vaccine, of course, has enhanced that by providing a long-awaited light at the end of the tunnel. I heard a speaker, Dave Ventura, name the feeling ‘hopium’ just before the pandemic outbreak, and yes, it can be addictive!

It is also a time of year that facilitates personal and professional reflection, with many seeing it as a perfect time to hit the reset button and set fresh goals. I bet that many of you can relate to reading this and have set a few New Year’s resolutions of your own.

But let me ask you this: how much time have you spent taking stock of this year before deciding on resolutions for next year?

This is such a crucial move that the goals you set for yourself will really help you reach them. This helps you to set your goals and move forward with real clarity, direction and intent.

Every year, I coach leaders around the nation and send out a questionnaire that prompts reflection and preparation.

It encourages them to take a moment to celebrate their successes and accomplishments and compliment themselves on the good new programs, individuals and processes they have put in place.

Asking some open-ended questions about problems they faced, things they avoided, or things they should have done better is equally relevant. People tend to sweep bad events under the rug all too much and may not face what they see as failures, but please resist the urge.

When you neglect them instead of evaluating and learning from them, you will pile on more issues. To grow and prosper, use them. You would have the tools to prepare more efficiently if you think of the big picture, with all the flaws and shortcomings.

Intentionally, the questionnaire focuses on short-term obstacles and expectations, asking what hurdles to expect in the coming month and what targets for the next three months have been set.

This technique facilitates a more efficient approach to target setting. So many of us set squishy expectations for stuff we would like to achieve “someday,” but if you don’t start designing measurable goals and reasonable deadlines, that day may not come.

It’s all about beginning with small steps, being realistic about what you can do and when you’re going to get there, and little by little. With the very first step, each marathon begins, then the next one follows and you gradually build up to achieve the bigger goals.

There is an excellent book by James Clear called Atomic Habits that explains this argument beautifully and shows you how to get one percent better every day. How to describe the trends that favor you and those that do not. And to build strategies for stronger, healthier behaviors that allow you to live a life that is happier, more productive, and ultimately more fulfilling.

It illustrates how minor changes can have life-changing consequences and is a great book for the new year to place on your reading list.

Why not do your own 2020 audit to see what you learn about yourself if you’re serious about creating better behaviors in 2021 to achieve your goals, whether in your personal or professional life? You will be shocked at what you can do.

Laura Gordon is a CEO coach and group chair at Vistage International, a global network for CEO leadership growth.


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