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As you wrap up your year, it's a good time for personal reflection, which starts with asking yourself some questions and answering honestly. When I say “honestly,” I mean that you should answer the following questions with real answers and not fluff on what you think others want to hear.

Whether you're happy with the results or a little disappointed, taking time to look back helps you look forward productively. Ask a mentor, confidante, or coach to help you discover the real answers and help you get the most out of your reflection.


Questions for Your Year-end Review of Career Goals

  • What did I set out to do this year?
  • What makes me feel proud?
  • What should I celebrate?
  • What are my accomplishments?
  • What challenges did I face?
  • Who or what am I blaming?
  • Am I on the right track?
  • What results did I want that I didn't get?
  • What will I do differently next year?
  • What are the possibilities?

In addition to reflecting on these questions, let's explore three approaches to looking back:

The “It's all my fault” approach.

We could all improve in many ways, but taking all the blame all the time is not healthy. You're being too hard on yourself. Sometimes we get so caught up in what we could improve that we forget to focus on what we did right. Give yourself a break –you're reading a blog about personal reflection, and that in itself shows that you're conscious about self-improvement, doesn't it? So… celebrate! You deserve it!

Make a list of everything you accomplished this year, big and small. Identify the characteristics that make you special. More importantly, ask those around you to weigh in. They probably notice many things you've missed in your “It's all my fault” approach. Your family and friends can be a powerful source for gaining a positive perspective.


The “I'm so awesome” approach.

Positive self-concept is important and can lead to self-motivation, inspiration, and accomplishment of your goals. With that said, there are always areas that could use some improvement.

Inflated egos can blind us to faulty thinking and behaviors that have a negative effect on ourselves and on those around us. In this case, don't dwell on the negative, but do take some time and ask a trusted and honest source about what you could improve, then choose one or two things and create a plan for change. Some self-awareness and honest input from a trusted source can put a healthy perspective on the “I'm so awesome” approach


The “It's all their fault” approach.

If you're living in a world where everything or everyone else is the problem, some serious self-reflection is in order. If you feel that everything you do is ruined by external sources and you catch yourself saying phrases like to the following, you might have a victim view on your life: “I'm late because of traffic.” “Math is hard because my teacher is mean.” “My boss creates so many problems for me.” It's essential for your own personal success to change this view and focus on your contribution to your success.

Unpleasant life circumstances are inevitable, but most situations improve with a positive perspective. Instead of blaming, ask yourself, “What solution can I bring to this problem?” “What can I do differently so this won't happen again?” “What is real and what is blame?” Changing your perspective to solution-oriented thinking will help you be more productive and will likely make you happier.


Did You Meet Your Career Goals this year?

As this year closes and another year approaches, take stock of your career goals. Most of us need to make only minor adjustments to get the most out of our career and life. Small changes and accomplishments can lead to big results, so continuing to reflect and focus on a productive path will lead to the biggest gains and achievement of your goals.

Good luck, and check back soon for my blog on planning for a successful New Year!

  1. goal setting
  2. work-life balance

About The Author

Dora Grote, GCDFi

Dora Grote is the vice president of professional services for Kuder. She oversees the company’s delivery of real-time career and education planning support for students and adults through the Kuder® Coach™ program and works with client organizations to develop and i ... read more