Year In Review: Have You Learned the Lessons of 2017?
A few days ago, on Dec 1, I was prompted by a notification on my calendar. Two words: “Take stock.” At around this time every year, I begin the process of taking a magnifying glass to the rapidly concluding year; reviewing every facet of my life, career included. I spend early mornings re-reading journal entries from months past, scrolling through old messages, recalling the countless work interactions and projects, reliving major events. As I do this, I am really trying to answer one question.
What did 2017 teach me about myself?
What did this year with its unbelievable ups and its debilitating downs teach me about who I am? What did I learn about what I truly value, not just what I say I value?
With our busy schedules, many of us rarely make time for being introspective. In an age when the expected, canned response for “How are you doing?” is “Girl, I’m so busy/tired/stressed”, slowing down to review can be a bit of an eye-opener; revealing to us those areas that still need work.
Before we embark on the never-ending cycle of setting New Year’s resolutions and abandoning them by February, it is helpful to consider who you’ve become this year. Here are some great examples of hard-hitting questions contained in the Intelle End Of Year Self Reflection workbook to aid in your introspection, specifically in your corporate career.
Are you a person who lacks follow through?
It shouldn’t be too hard to answer this one. Just look back on the year and identify things you started but didn’t finish. Do you get all excited about a new diet, a new dance class, a new book, only to fall off after a few weeks? Did you bring the same attitude to your career, being excited about leading a new project idea only to have it drag on and on, heading dangerously close to the graveyard of unfinished projects? Or being thrilled about a new job, talking about it endlessly with your friends, and then eventually taking it for granted like all the others before it?
How do you handle uncertainty and stress?
What did 2017 reveal about your default stress and change management style? How did you react when your boss dumped a pile of work on you with no forewarning? Did you cave under the pressure, abandoning your wellbeing altogether; skipping out on workouts and healthy meals and opting for the vending machine instead? Did you ignore your family and friends completely? How did you manage when you were faced with an impromptu presentation to senior leadership? Did you backslide back into those pesky, limiting core beliefs, fraught with self-doubt and low self-esteem?
How did you deal with conflict?
When you were ‘mansplained’ by the obnoxious office jerk, how did you respond? Did you cower for the rest of the meetings, afraid to say anything? When comments about your natural hair being “eccentric” became the topic for office conversation, how did you manage? Did you “tone it down”, opting to draw less attention to yourself? Worse yet, did it make you less comfortable in yourself? In your identity? When your difficult boss berated you in front of the entire group? How did you react? Did you speak up for yourself, fearing nothing, apologizing once and moving on to solutions? Or did you become immobilized, unable to defend yourself?
Did you take any risks?
Try anything new at work this year? New team? Learn a new software? Propose a new approach? Share an unpopular opinion? Did you use a whole new muscle, wade into uncomfortable waters? Or did you play it safe standing on the shoreline, simply showing up, doing as told and going home?
How did you handle failure?
Were there times when it didn’t work? You tried something new and it was a fail. How did you play it? Retreat into the shadows? Blame someone else? Or did you own it and begin damage control?
How did you handle success?
When you achieved a win, what did you do? Slow down and celebrate or move on to chasing after the next one? What about the small, monotonous ones? Like meeting a deadline, or having a good and productive discussion with your boss, or even an unusually uneventful day. Did you acknowledge the pluses or were you perpetually focused on the negatives?
For the big wins, did you take 100% credit? Share the credit with a few others? Or take zero credit when you know you did all the work? Did you avoid the spotlight, opting instead for the dark shadows?
Did you build positive relationships?
Did you actively and intentionally build your network? Did you seek out people who could add to your essence, or wallow in those long-held, but restrictive friendships that add no value? Did you go out of your way to build alliances at work? Mentorships? Coaching?
Did you invest in yourself?
Do you constantly verbalize how important and valuable you are to yourself, but your bank statements show otherwise? i.e, did you spend every dollar on others but not on your needs? And if you did spend on yourself, were they investments, yielding returns or expenses which became liabilities? Did you take advantage of the plethora of training courses, workshops, conferences, benefits, etc. offered by your company for free? Or did you focus exclusively on working your fingers to the bone?
How Did You Manage your time?
Did you waste time on non-value-add activities? How much time did you spend on projects that made no impact? On phone calls with “friends” that didn’t enrich you?
These are questions I continue to ask myself year after year and I must admit, that while I am not always happy with the responses, my goal is continuous improvement.
This is a personal exercise. You may find it uncomfortable, frustrating, maybe even embarrassing. But you do not have to share your responses with anyone other than yourself. If this process enables you to achieve a deeper understanding of yourself and your needs, and sparks your commitment to making lasting change, then mission accomplished!
Intelle is a career coaching service for Black, Millennial women in Corporate America. To learn more, or get some support around achieving your career goals, visit www.intelle.us to schedule a free consultation.