As the year comes to a close, it’s easy to simply carry on without taking the time to understand some of the valuable opportunities to accelerate your growth. By doing what you did before it is likely that you will receive the same results as before.

To take control of your career development, you need to identify and take ownership of what you should do differently in the coming year. Start by looking back at the last twelve months and identify what worked and what didn’t, and fast-forward to apply what you’ve learned. Here are three steps to get started in reviewing your experiences:

1. Assess

“We need to slow life down to increase life’s rewards”

It is easy to keep pedaling away and sometimes we need to stop pedaling and reflect and adjust our lenses to see a different perspective to propel us forward powerfully. When we identify what we’ve done well, we can stretch our strengths even more in the future. When we spot the mistakes we’ve made, we learn from them rather than repeat them.

Find a place or create an environment that supports you to be thoughtful. An ideal environment is one where you’re unlikely to be interrupted and can take the time to think through your responses. Be conscious of allowing your mind to calm down and be able to create. Set yourself a five-minute timer for each question to help you to think more deeply, and use your calendar for data so you’re not relying only on your most recent experiences. Pick up a pen and write whatever comes to mind and let it flow.  Ask yourself some powerful question such as:

  1. When have I learned the most this year?
  2. When was I operating at my best?
  3. What tasks or activities gave me the most joy?
  4. Which talents have I drawn on most?
  5. Which talents can I develop further?
  6. What’s the one thing I wish I’d done differently?

2. Ask a partner

Our peers often have insights about us that we can’t spot for ourselves, and sharing reflections out loud creates a level of clarity that is otherwise hard to achieve. Ask a trusted colleague to partner with you. Make sure you both feel safe to share and are ready to listen actively.

Schedule time for you and your partner to answer the following questions together. As each person shares their responses, the role of the partner is to listen and contribute any additional insights they have based on their own experience.

  • What three words would you use to describe the last year?
  • What have you found most fulfilling — and most frustrating — over the last 12 months?
  • What did you do well and felt strong doing?
  • What stories have gotten in your way?
  • What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned?

3. Actions

Turn the awareness you’ve gained into useful actions for the future. What commitments do you want to make for your development? Find focus and be pragmatic about what’s possible.

Ask yourself what matters most going forward?

Decide on actions you want to take across different areas. The statements are designed to be deliberately definitive, using “I will” to frame your thinking. We suggest saving your answers somewhere you will see them frequently to act as a regular reminder.

  • One learning goal I will make progress on in the coming year:
  • One habit I will commit to:
  • One person I will have a curious career conversation with:
  • One way I will support someone else:
  • One mistake I won’t make again:

While the reality of work can feel especially overwhelming at the end of the year, reflection is the key to doing things differently in the year to come. Taking the time to review your year increases your self-awareness and provides insights to improve, which is perhaps the best gift you can give yourself.

Taymour Miri

Taymour Miri is an ICF master coach and a Gallup certified strengths coach and more recently one of the first 136 coaches world wide to be awarded an Advanced Certificate in Team Coaching. He has 30 years’ experience in leadership roles and 20 years of experince in coaching. Taymour has trained over 1,500 coaches across five continents and is the founder of International Coaching Education (ICE).