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Look back to move forward
Q: How will you remember 2021?
Time to Disco: Come dialogue with us about any of the questions we raise in our posts in a live session at 4 pm PT this Friday, December 10th - add to calendar.
December has always been a month of craziness for me. At work it is about wrapping up the year with annual planning and OKR (Objectives and Key Results) grading. On the home front, I am consumed by school volunteer activities for my kids and prepping for trips to visit family overseas. But it is also a month of reflection for me. I enjoy taking the time to look back at my personal OKRs to remember all that I accomplished.
Last week I sat down to grade myself on the personal goals that I had set in February across 7 areas of my life - finances, work, health, relationship, recreation, personal development and community.
Work: After a crazy 2020 consumed by the impact of the pandemic, I wanted 2021 to be the year that I decide on a career path and business idea to pursue. I am excited to be ending the year having run 3 different experiments with user feedback and data from ~200 users.
Health: My goal of running 3 miles non-stop was a complete miss but in its place, I recognized the discipline I showed in doing weekly walks of over 3 miles with Kinnari while we brainstormed on ways to be creative.
Community: I mentored 5 women who are early in their careers and actively participated on the boards of two non-profits as they pivoted during Covid times.
Sharing these outcomes with my husband allowed us to reflect, discuss and celebrate our wins together. As I mentioned in our post last week, if I don't take the time to pause and look back at all that I have accomplished, it is hard to feel proud of the work that I put in this year.
Every December for the last several years, I do some sort of wrap-up of the year - either just writing out my thoughts or a poem in my journal or doing a rigorous look back at my calendar entries and photos month by month and capturing the key moments. This week I opened my 2020 life review doc and was able to revisit the joy I felt from A’s first year milestones (her first walk..her first ice cream 😍) and was reminded of my learnings from a self-compassion workshop that I took with Kristin Neff.
2021 hasn’t been an easy one for most of us. I personally worried about my parents in India during the pandemic given my mother’s declining health and constantly fretted about my two-year-old’s exposure to covid. The year has also given me lots to be grateful for - vaccines, my toddler meeting her grandpa for the first time, starting the Inner MBA program and developing the self-discipline to run a 10k. So before heading into the holidays, I am making the time to reflect on the ups and downs of the past twelve months. It doesn’t matter that I am ending the year not having accomplished every single goal. What matters is the effort that I put into the process or the new habits I established. Input > Output.
If you are new to doing an end of year review, here are two options that I have used in the past:
short version: look through your calendar and photos from the past year, write down the moments that brought you joy (thanks Google photos!), note down the people that showed up for you, and remember some key decisions that you made. Bonus for recording any new habits that you acquired, books that gave you a new perspective or experiences that helped you grow this year. Make this process fun. A couple of years ago, I gave a “person of the year” award to a very close friend who got on a flight to visit me multiple times during my first year as a mom.
long version: In 2020, I was introduced to a new template on how to do an annual life review by my manager at Google. Fair warning - it is time consuming.. I only did step 1 which is about writing down the big moments, memories and milestones for each month. The current me is very thankful that the former me decided to invest the time into it. It was well worth the effort to have a snapshot of the strange year that 2020 was.
We have each written about a different way to reflect on our year. The Google OKR process that Mitali mentions is practical and sets you up with measurable goals across different areas of your life. Kinnari talks about capturing memories, experiences and people from your year that don’t necessarily fit into goals. We hope you find this practice useful in grounding yourself and taking joy from making it through another challenging year.
Here is a playlist (Youtube) that can help you get into a contemplative mood as you start your review.