’Tis the season when everyone reflects on where they have been over the past year.
We all seem to play the reflection game in one way or another.
If you’re like me, you’ve probably asked yourself, “What did I accomplish?”
And then you dive a little deeper unpacking the “wins” and “losses” to analyze what you could have done differently.
When you’ve walked through your year in review, did you discover that it went the way you expected?
Did you create a mental or literal checklist to see how it aligned with your game plan for the previous year?
Perhaps you took pen to paper - or put fingers on your keyboard - to write out a review of the past year before you set goals for the new one.
Or were you like many who flew by the seat of their pants without a game plan?
Diving Into Your Past
Even if you didn’t create a plan for the last year, you probably spent more than a few minutes over the past few days and weeks thinking about what happened in your world.
The phenomena of diving into our past helps us move forward to a new future.
Reflection is a trend that seems to captivate us all whether we want it to or not.
As a scuba diver, the way I improve my diving skills is by reflecting on my previous dives, evaluating how they went, and planning the steps I need to make my next dive better.
This concept applies to everything I do in business and my personal life, too.
If I want to improve and reach my goals - I have to dive into my past before I can move forward.
Since I work better following a formula, I created an acronym to help make the most of my review.
But before I share it with you, let’s look at what is happening around us right now.
Everyone Is Reflecting
When you watch TV or listen to the radio, all the major news stations and news magazines are focused on recapping the past year.
They are looking at the major happenings and milestones and reviewing the legacies of those who are no longer with us.
They are pouring over the new trends that surfaced and projecting about new ones to come.
You can also read emails and social posts from your favorite bloggers and entrepreneurs sharing insights about 2018 and the new year to come.
Just today I was standing in line at the pharmacy, and I saw a shelf full of magazine covers addressing reflection and new year’s resolutions.
It is quite clear that reviewing the past year before moving forward is essential for growth.
But why are new year’s resolutions so intriguing and how did this phenomena begin?
When Did Reflecting Become A Tradition?
A quick search of Google shows that this tradition isn’t something created by a marketer to sell things.
(Although, I wouldn’t put it past any business owner or entrepreneur to find a way to capitalize on this phenomena.)
According to the History Channel - and many other online sources - New Year’s resolutions began more than 4,000 years ago.
But the way each new year was celebrated has changed over time due to a lot of influence from religious groups, different cultures, and various leaders.
Dating back to the Babylonians, you can find celebrations of the new year held in March with an 11-day festival when the crops were planted.
In 46 B.C., Julius Caesar moved the holiday to January to honor Janus, the Roman god of beginnings.
The Jewish New Year celebrations—which some sources say started in the 8th to mid-6th century B.C.—are celebrated on Rosh Hashanah through the High Holidays and culminating in Yom Kippur.
The history of new year celebrations and the practice of reviewing the old year is deep and wide encompassing both religious and secular practice.
It is interesting to note that this centuries-old tradition leads to the same storyline even today; everyone resolves to do something differently in the coming year.
At its core, new year’s resolutions are about transformation.
As Carl Sagan once said, “You have to know the past to understand the present.”
Dive Backwards to Make Forward Gains
Before you dive into your new year, let me encourage you to take a moment to pause, reflect and review this past year.
When you analyze the past, you can uncover any mistakes or bad habits that you want to change in the new year.
You’ll also find things you did well and need to celebrate.
I’ve created a simple acronym to help you focus on the right things.
Of course, I felt compelled to use the diving term ‘scuba’ to do this.
Write down your reflections for each these elements. When you are done working through this list, post the results in an area where you'll see it every day, so you can focus on your key learnings.
Search - Search for the top highs and lows from your past year. List out your top five "wins" and your top five "losses." Do this for both your personal life and your business.
Celebrate - Celebrate any success you experienced. Take time to celebrate any big and small accomplishments. Don't just glaze over them. Make sure you reward any achievements. Doing so can ensure long-term success.
Uncover - Uncover roadblocks you encountered and things you could have done differently.
As you look at your list of highs and lows, determine what you could have done differently in each situation to ensure success. Realize that even your highs could use improvement. Note every observation and write out how you plan to approach it better in the future.
Balance - Look for specific projects you balanced well, as well as ones you could have juggled better. If you’re an A-type personality, like me, finding balance in your pursuits is sometimes hard to do. (Hint: This step is critical for reflection.) When you celebrate the areas you practiced balance, you can also uncover areas you need to focus on being more balanced.
Action - Be intentional and take action on what you’ve uncovered through your SCUBA reflections. Don't just make this a one and done exercise. Use what you've learned as a roadmap to guide where you're going in the future.
Learning from your past can set you up for success in the future.
As Winston Churchill once said, “ Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”
Let me challenge you to dive into your past using my SCUBA acronym.
You can easily uncover areas you want to improve and activities you want to repeat when you practice SCUBA diving.
Make the most of your time by SCUBA diving into your past today.