Reflect on the Past, Commit to the Future

by Sue Hawkes

Reflect on the Past, Commit to the Future

As we enter the last weeks of 2015, it is important to take time and reflect. It seems to be the natural time of year to look back, appreciate the highs and learn from the lows while anticipating the future. Ideally we’d reflect more often than once a year, but it seems most common for the majority of us to wait to reset and refocus every December. Why is it so challenging in our busy lives to make time to think? In order to become more proficient, you must practice intentional reflection consistently. We are excited to be your partner in making 2016 your best year yet, and suggest you read on to become more successful throughout the year.

Intentional reflection is a powerful tool. It allows you to more neutrally evaluate the past, and it helps you thoughtfully design your future. As you reflect, you are determining what’s worked and what’s not. You are also able to design your life based on what that information tells you. You will open possibilities in both life and business, as well as have a greater sense of peace and fulfillment as you take your future into your own hands. Think about it, most of us spend more time planning our vacation than we do reflecting on our lives. Doesn’t that sound absurd when you think about it?

By building a practice for reflection, you learn to explore what’s shaping your thinking, feelings and experiences. You have a window into your thoughts in a visual way; you can observe patterns and capture nuances and ideas. You are “seeing” your thinking on paper. It’s a powerful way to begin observing yourself. Your existing worldview determines what is and is not possible in your life. Your thinking shapes and informs your feelings, actions, behaviors and ultimately your results. By practicing this type of mindful reflection, you are able to change the course of what would otherwise happen if you stay on “auto pilot” and just keep getting things done. You must create a window into your thinking to truly design what you want for your life. Some questions to get you started:

  • What have you said about yourself, based on history, which limits your possibilities?
  • What new possibilities can you imagine that would give you a new future?
  • What have you decided about your organization based on history that limits its possibilities?
  • What new possibilities could you make about your organization that would give the organization a new future?

Once you begin reflecting, ideally once a week for 60-90 minutes, somewhere that fosters your creativity and allows you the space to think, you will enjoy the perspective and peace it affords. Once your new worldview takes shape, you will begin to take the actions to commit to the incredible year ahead – thoughtfully. When designing your future you must listen and speak from a perspective that defies history. In effect, you must listen and speak as though you are yourself the embodiment of the future you designed. You must adopt the worldview that will make those commitments possible.

One of my favorite definitions of commitment comes from an old advertisement for Shearson Lehman American Express. It reads, “Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality. It is the words that speak boldly of your intentions, and the actions which speak louder than the words. Commitment is the stuff character is made of; the power to change the face of things.” Additional food for thought as you ponder what’s possible:

  • What commitments will you now make to yourself in the future?
  • What commitments will you now make to the future of your organization?
  • What commitments will you now make to your family’s future?
  • What commitments will you now make to the future of your community and the world?

Through intentional reflection, you will be on your way to living life by design. What you believe determines what you do, and when you believe something is truly possible, it becomes so. Practice intentional reflection in order to set commitments you won’t abandon by February. By doing so, you open yourself up to all that is possible in 2016 and beyond.

Sue HawkesReflect on the Past, Commit to the Future