TODAY is the last day of 2009. In fact, it is the last day of the decade.
Tomorrow we usher in the beginning of a new decade. How things have changed. Ten years ago, we did not have Facebook, Google, Twitter, the iPhone and netbooks.
Are you satisfied with what you have achieved? What do you plan to achieve next year? How can you move forward based on what you have achieved?
To progress next year, you must review what you have done this year. Today is the perfect time for you to take stock of your life — to give yourself a report card like the one you received at the end of each academic year in school.
Reviewing your life, like feedback, is the breakfast of champions.
Today is the day when you talk to and listen to your inner self. Here is a guide to get started:
Find an alternative place, away from the usual breakfast table or workstation. A new environment will help to stimulate some new insights.
A quiet place close to nature helps. Think the Botanic Gardens, East Coast Park or Changi Village. Find a spot to do some serious thinking. Be honest and evaluate yourself as if you are the boss reviewing your subordinate.
Arm yourself with a blank notebook and a pen and make some notes. Take your diaries along to help you remember certain details.
The first step is data collection. With the aid of your diaries, recall the milestones in the past year or past decade.
Evaluate yourself in the key seven areas: work performance, finance, health, family, self-development, social development and spirituality.
These seven areas are like spokes of a bicycle wheel connecting to the centre hub, which is you.
If your performance in these areas has been fairly constant, then the wheel is even.
If you suffered in one or more areas, then the wheel is bumpy, as your journey was more difficult.
As you move forward, you have to strive for an even performance in these seven areas, in other words, achieve work-life balance.
Ask yourself three key questions:
1. What are the things I have done right?
What accomplishments drew praise from your boss and your clients? What are the things you achieved that make you feel like a winner?
For things you have performed well, congratulations! But also ask if you are efficient or effective.
Efficiency is getting more done in less time. Effectiveness is getting the right things done. The latter is what you should focus on in 2010.
2. What are the things I have done wrong?
List them down. Learn from them. Why did you make the mistakes? How did you make them? Was your attitude the cause of your failure?
Make a resolution not to repeat them next year.
3. How can I improve for the whole of next year?
What are the things you need to change for the better? How can you achieve more of your vision and mission?
Consider improving your communication skills, seizing new opportunities, planning more effectively, boosting your emotional intelligence, managing stress and controlling your anger.
A holistic improvement plan will also include apportioning a percentage of your income to self-development and philanthropic purposes, eating healthily and exercising regularly.
Feeling better mentally and physically will enable you to respond more courageously to any changes the new year brings.
Influence and concern
Differentiate between areas of influence and areas of concern.
In an area of influence, you can make a difference. You can make an effort to get results. For example, exercising for better health or saving a larger portion of your income.
Areas of concern are those that trouble you but are outside your control, such as bad weather or the poor health of the economy. So do not waste time worrying. Instead, strategise how best you can cope with these situations.
Take a break
Go to a movie, visit a museum, attend a concert or visit a friend you have lost touch with.
Then go through what you have written and reflect on it. Did you forget anything? Make additional notes on things you have missed out earlier.
I do this exercise every year and find it a powerful and effective tool to help me move in the right direction in the next year. Share your review with someone close to you and note down his or her feedback too.