How to Take Stock of a Complicated Year
We’re almost there! As we enter the home stretch of a very difficult year—perhaps the hardest of our lives—many of us are looking forward to shrugging off all the challenges 2020 has brought, and finding relief in the promise of a new year (and the potential of a COVID-19 vaccine!). It’s easy to adopt a “don’t look back” approach, racing toward 2021 with closed eyes and open arms. But before we shut the door behind us, it’s worth it to take stock of all we have been through alongside all we wish to accomplish in the future. After all, knowing where you have come from can be instrumental in helping you get where you want to be—even when it means evoking some hard truths. And, more likely than not, when you look back, you will find you have achieved more than you think.
So, without further ado, let’s take some time and reflect on where we’ve been and the ways in which it has made us and our businesses who we are—often for the better.
What’s the big picture? Let’s start with the big picture: an overall account of how things went. We’ll run through questions you likely have on your list, but before you ascribe meaning or judge your progress based on these insights, pause. We’ll get to that in a minute.
What did you actually do this year?
What—and how much—did you produce?
How much did you sell?
Who did you reach, and how did you get to them?
How did the picture change from the year before? Did you change your product line or the services you offered to address customers’ or clients’ shifting needs? Did you earn less money? More? Did your approach to marketing or customer service change? How about the way you delivered your products or services?
What worked and what didn’t? As the landscape shifted under our feet, many of us found ourselves in a vortex of trial and error, building out new approaches to keep the lights on and our—and our teams’—families fed. With that in mind, ask yourself:
Which strategies or models were specific to the circumstances at hand, and which might improve sales in all seasons?
Most important, did you learn anything about your approach, product, service, clients, or team that can inform decisions going forward?
What did you accomplish? Here, we’re referring to your wins—which certainly matter. But this question is actually about more than those tangible outcomes. Identifying everything you truly achieved requires some deeper digging.
How has your perspective or outlook changed? Does it encompass more data points, or insights? Have you added more gauges to your dashboard, including those that capture softer skills or considerations alongside hard numbers?
Do you have a better understanding of your purpose, or has that purpose shifted entirely?
In what ways did you show compassion for yourself, your team, and those you serve?
How did you solve problems you hadn’t imagined encountering previously?
In what ways did you and/or your team show creativity?
Were there moments in which you demonstrated strength you didn’t know you had?
Did you have opportunities to witness—and appreciate—others’ demonstrations of remarkable strength that inspired you to do better in work and life?
Put simply, if you’ve made it to this point, you have demonstrated extraordinary resilience—regardless of whether your business or life looks the way you imagined it would right now. And that means you have the potential to achieve even more, no matter what life throws your way. That’s certainly worth celebrating.
As you reflect on all that you’ve been through, continue to recognize all of those accomplishments—especially ones that look or sound different than what you would have acknowledged as worthy of a badge of honor before. Ultimately, all of us are developing a richer and more layered concept of what it means to succeed, and we’re willing to bet that that understanding will pay off in ways we cannot fathom quite yet.
With that in mind, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention just how much your insights might mean to others. If you’ve considered writing a book in the past, this may just be the time to take the leap. Chances are you have more valuable information to share than you know—particularly after a year like this one. And when you’re ready, we’re here.