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Countdown to 2018 - Reflecting on 2017

As 2017 is winding down and we are excited to see what the new year holds, taking time to reflect is valuable. This is not a new concept, you may have read other’s recommendations on reflection. Whichever way you choose to reflect or whose method you use – the important thing is you do it. Why is reflecting so important? While we reflect over the last year, we make choices and important decisions about the next year.

To be effective in your reflection effort, I recommend finding a quiet space where you can “hear yourself think”. Before we determine what we want to accomplish in the next year, deciding what went well and not so well in 2017 is a crucial first step. If you are like most, how you spent the last year is found in a calendar, paper or electronic – it is there – the appointments, meetings, trips and major events. Take a few minutes to pull it out or print it out. If you journal, now is the time to review your year, how you felt, what you told yourself you would never do again and what moments and who brought you the greatest amount of joy. In addition to your calendar and your journal, gather a clean notebook, legal pad, post-its and your favorite pen or a pile of colorful markers. Now you can get down to the business of reviewing your year and taking the necessary notes, which will help you when you design 2018.

First review the meetings or appointments in your calendar – consider evaluating the return on your time – was there value? If the meetings were about Relationship Building label them with a “R”. A meeting or commitment focused on relationships includes important family events, one-on-one sessions with a direct report or with your manager, a team event, time spent in the community or as a member of an association. If your time aided in Making or Saving you or your organization Money label those appointments with a “$”. If neither label can be applied, go deeper in discovering why you were there – what was the purpose of that meeting or appointment? During my time in the corporate arena, I attended a lot of meetings, too many had a $0 ROI or a negative return as they were time wasters or someone else’s priority. If you have experienced the same – what can you do to consolidate, reduce, streamline or eliminate these meetings? If you run meetings, what can you change in the new year to ensure all the attendees feel they have received a positive return from their time investment? Is there a duplication of effort? Could a memo or a 20-minute conference call accomplish the objective?

After your first pass with the “R”and “$” you will see very quickly the obvious opportunities of what you can do Less, so label them with “L”. If you are unsure about eliminating these meetings from your schedule – who on your team could learn or grow by being your proxy at these meetings? Consider transferring these obligations to someone to help them get to the next level. In addition, if you find you are not balanced between Relationship Building moments and Money making or saving activities, you may need to determine the steps you need to balance out the efforts which could involve eliminating or adding obligations. Relationship Building and Income generating activities are both very important – find the correct balance.

Hopefully you have now found more time in your schedule as a result if identifying some activities you can do Less. Before you fill found blocks of time with new obligations – plug in 4 to 5 hours of uninterrupted planning time per week if you don’t have that time reserved currently. This is time when you will be proactive, not reactive. The time you will be forward-looking and recharge. Innovation and creativity do not exist in present-moment, urgent activities.

Now review the appointments or meetings that possessed value (those you labeled with a “R” or “$”). How many of them if you did More would produce even greater value? Label those with a “M”. How many of them if done Better would produce additional value? Label those with a “B”. How many of your time obligations had potential, but did not accomplish the objective? Label those with a “D” for Different. Next decide if you must be the one to do it More, Better, or Different. Are these opportunities for a team member to grow? Can a role be delegated?

Reflection allows us to ponder these questions and many others. Take the time this week before the end of the year to reflect. Make notes and get ready to plan the best year ever!

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