Sometimes You Have to Look Back to Move Forward

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 4.14.43 AMAs the year comes to a close, most of us are looking forward and making plans for the future—but sometimes to move ahead you must look back.

The best leaders are always taking stock of their lives, asking and reflecting. The best way to make improvements is to decide three things: what came before, what comes next, and how to get it.

But in order to move forward, you have to assess what you have learned about yourself up to this point.

Here are 10 year-end review questions to ask yourself as you prepare a strategy for moving forward.

1. What defined you most this past year?

Make a list of your defining moments in the past year and how they portray who you are. What impact did they have? How have they changed you? Reflect on those times and what they meant to you.

2. What people have you encountered and what did you learn from them?

Some of those we meet have an enormous impact on us, and others don’t. Some teach us lessons we may not have been ready to learn. Make a list of the people you met and what you’ve learned from them. What did they say or do that was especially compelling? How have they changed you?

3. What books did I read and what have they taught me?

We become the books we read; books give wisdom to our soul and wings to our mind. As Dr. Seuss said so eloquently, “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” Books teach us about ourselves; they clarify ideas for us and inspire us to grow and expand. Make a list of the books you read last year and what has stayed with you from that reading.

4. Where did I succeed best?

Make a list of all your biggest accomplishments. Even those that seem small to others may loom larger for you, because you know what effort it took to get there. What were your biggest accomplishments? Were they the result of pure determination, or was luck a factor? Where did you take a risk and succeed?

5. Where did I fail?

What didn’t work this year? Where did you make mistakes? Fold a page in half and on one side list all your failures. On the other side list all the lessons you learned from those failures. Remember a failure is a lesson and the first step to a success, and write “thank you” at the end of your list.

6. How did I treat myself when it came to my mental health, physical health spiritual healthy, emotional well-being?

What have you done to care for yourself this year? How can you make yourself more important in your priorities? A tired malnourished mind is over stressed and rarely productive. What will you do to nourish all parts of yourself? Make a list of how you will honor yourself—all of yourself.

7. What can I improve on?

Even one small intention can make a big improvement. Make a list of all the thing you want to improve on. Look to see where you can do better next time, where can you tweak things so you get different results. The way to make major impact is to get serious about improving yourself.

8. What do I need to stop?

What isn’t working for you? Maybe you need to stop caring so much what other people think. Maybe you need to stop overthinking or worrying about everything. Maybe you need to stop delaying the risk and go for it. Maybe you need to stop procrastinating. Maybe you need to stop living someone else’s life and start becoming the person you are meant to be. Look at what you need to stop and take action to eliminate it.

9. What can I be grateful for?

List all the things that you are grateful for: your health, your family, things that worked out, ways you could be of service? Be grateful for the times you were able to make a difference. Having an attitude of gratitude gives you more to be appreciative of.

10. What do I need to start?

In order to become who you are born to be, you must follow your heart and make the time to accomplish the things you are meant to do. If you did not do them this past year, how can you get started? Make a list of all the things you want to accomplish and what you need to begin making it happen… whether it’s writing a book, mending a relationship, launching a business. Think of all of the things you need to start and make the plan.

A year-end review helps you prepare a new path for your future. It is the things we learn about ourselves that help us move forward into our success.

Lead from within: The only time you should look back is to see how far you have come is when you want to know how to move forward into the future, doing so allows you to see how much you have accomplished and where you still want to go.


N A T I O N A L   B E S T S E L L E R

The Leadership Gap
What Gets Between You and Your Greatness

After decades of coaching powerful executives around the world, Lolly Daskal has observed that leaders rise to their positions relying on a specific set of values and traits. But in time, every executive reaches a point when their performance suffers and failure persists. Very few understand why or how to prevent it.

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Additional Reading:
Tear down the wall so trust can get in
How to become a leader people want to follow

What legacy are you leaving
How to become a leader you admire

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lolly Daskal is one of the most sought-after executive leadership coaches in the world. Her extensive cross-cultural expertise spans 14 countries, six languages and hundreds of companies. As founder and CEO of Lead From Within, her proprietary leadership program is engineered to be a catalyst for leaders who want to enhance performance and make a meaningful difference in their companies, their lives, and the world.

Of Lolly’s many awards and accolades, Lolly was designated a Top-50 Leadership and Management Expert by Inc. magazine. Huffington Post honored Lolly with the title of The Most Inspiring Woman in the World. Her writing has appeared in HBR,, Fast Company (Ask The Expert), Huffington Post, and Psychology Today, and others. Her newest book, The Leadership Gap: What Gets Between You and Your Greatness has become a national bestseller.

  1. shandy

    29. Dec, 2015

    Thank you Lolly for helping me and all aspiring leaders out there with your insights about leading.

    I am now a Manager apprentice and I thank you for being part of my growth through reading your articles. it helped me a lot!

    You will hear from me soon. Have a great 2016 and cheers!

    Reply to this comment
  2. Anne Cohen

    01. Jan, 2016

    Such a great post! Retweeted! Well done!

    Reply to this comment
  3. Cheri Essner

    03. Jan, 2016

    Lolly: 2015 has been a very challenging year for me. I am still working through the questions on your post. I have not made it past reflection because it was so difficult. I cried buckets for 3 days which helped me to release all of my pent up emotion. I thank you for your insight, valour and grace. I will complete your exercise as I realized that I need to heal and try to move forward. My husband is an end stage cancer patient and he is my superman. This is not a battle we will win, however I need to be able to survive this. I believe working through this post will be inspirational And will help me survive what has truly been the most sadness I have ever felt. Lolly you to make a difference! Thank you!

    Reply to this comment
  4. Imran Ali Rathore

    04. Jan, 2016

    Exactly! A thought provoking blog post! Love it!

    Reply to this comment
  5. Andy Phillips

    23. Jan, 2016

    Someone said that if we don’t learn from history, we are condemned to repeat the same mistakes. If we always look forward we won’t appreciate the journey we have been on!

    Reply to this comment
  6. Muhammad Khalid

    24. Feb, 2016

    Dear Lolly,thank you for this inspirational article.I will apply these suggestions,while looking back to ascertain,where I was wrong.Thank you.

    Reply to this comment
  7. Gagan Chauhan

    06. Jun, 2016

    Very nice post, Lolly! Keep ’em coming & All the best!

    Reply to this comment
  8. puguh achmad malichi

    07. Jun, 2016

    … i reading carefully..thank so much

    Reply to this comment
  9. Doug Drosin

    13. Dec, 2016

    Great Post. This is the optimal time of year to reflect on what happened (or didn’t happen) during 2016. The 10 points you’ve listed provide a good roadmap to reflect on past events, Lolly. Happy New Year!

    Reply to this comment
  10. Chet

    29. Aug, 2019

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    Any certain?

    Reply to this comment

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