With just over a week left in 2014 I think it's about time to take a look back at the past 12 months to see what you have accomplished. What has changed in your life? What skills have you improved? Where did you face adversity? Reflecting on the past year will help you determine what you should work on in 2015 (more on setting goals for the future next week)!
What has changed in your life?
You can take many angles to this question. I think you should focus on how you've progressed personally over the past year. Take a look at what you were doing when this year had just started. Were you working at a job you hated? Were you struggling to keep your freelance business running? Were you finishing up school with no clue where you wanted to go next?
Then ask yourself where you are now. What about your situation has changed? Did you find your dream job? Did you start your own business? Have you figured out what you want to do, but are still struggling to find that job while you work at Starbucks? Perhaps you're still struggling to make a living from your passion. There is nothing wrong with any of those situations.
The most important part is asking yourself how you got from who you were at the beginning of the year to who you are now. It's great to understand where you came from and where you ended up, but it's vital to understand the journey. What steps where taken? What opportunities did you take or skip out on? Every good story has a beginning and an end, but it's the stuff in between that really gives it purpose.
What skills have you improved?
The easiest way to determine how far you've improved is to look at the work you were doing at the start of the year and compare it to what you're doing now. That is assuming you save all your work (if you don't, make that a goal for 2015). If you haven't preserved your work along with your mistakes you won't get a solid picture of how you've improved.
How do you feel about your work? Do you look back at the stuff you did 12 months ago and wonder what the heck you were thinking? That's perfectly normal, it means you've grown far more discerning of your work, especially if you can look at what you've done more recently and feel proud of the difference.
Just like how you've changed as a person, just looking at the beginning and the end of your skill development this year doesn't give you the complete picture. If you have a Dribbble and post to it on a regular basis, or keep your work organized by date you already have a great tool to see the linear growth of your talent.
Where did you face adversity?
Everybody faces adversity at some point, it's just a fact of life. There is no such thing as smooth sailing, unless you're extraordinarily lucky. There will be roadblocks that will either halt your progress, or set you back some amount. It's important to be able to learn from these past challenges so you can be better prepared for what lies ahead.
What setbacks did you face this past year? If you overcame them, how did you? If you didn't, what are you going to do in 2015 to move past them? How did these challenges affect your work? How could you handle adversity better in 2015?
After you finish reading this get out a notebook or open a text document, whatever you feel comfortable with. Write about your year using the questions posed here as a guide. Don't be afraid to be honest with yourself, and if you feel comfortable share what you've written with a trusted friend or family member.
Come back on New Years day for a follow-up to this post about setting goals for the new year! Until then, have a happy holiday!