Before You Look Ahead, Take a Look Back

“Respect yourself enough to walk away from anything that no longer serves you, grows you, or makes you happy.” – Robert Tew

Before You Look Ahead, Take a Look Back

By Andrea Novakowski

Sammy was new to his role at his company, leading a team of eight direct reports and a staff of over 100. Things hadn’t been going too smoothly. He’d received feedback that his style of communication was off-putting, controlling, and way too fast.

Sammy knew he needed to change his approach, so he sought me out for executive coaching.

In our work together, Sammy learned how to slow down, listen, and allow people time to process ideas and participate in the discussion. It didn’t come naturally to him at first, but with practice, he’s improving steadily.

I recently asked Sammy to look back on the past year and reflect on what he’s learned.

“I’m more aware of the importance of how I show up,” Sammy said. “As a leader in my company, I realize people are always watching me. It’s important that I have different ways of communicating depending on the situation and what others need.”

“I’ve learned I don’t have to control every situation,” he went on. “My people are resourceful. If I let them, they can come up with their own ideas, embrace them, and act on them. It’s actually easier when I let go of controlling!”

Most surprising, Sammy told me, was that his behavior changed not only at work but also at home. His whole life became more enjoyable when he realized he didn’t have to control so much.

How did your year go?

If you’ve worked with me or read my blog, you know I’m a big advocate of taking time at the end of the year to assess what worked in your business and what didn’t. What gave you energy and what drained you? What updates do you need to make to your technology or your product line? Have you chosen your word of the year yet?

By the way, I do the same exercise myself. My word for 2015 was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I never know how my word will show up, but when I look back, I can always see its influence, even when I wasn’t conscious of it. This past year, I made changes in my business and my life that opened up more time and space to pursue new interests, have more fun, and feel a greater sense of freedom.

Here are a few of the other changes – and how they turned out.

Stop working with clients who don’t excite me. I chose to eliminate a particular market segment I’d been working with for 10 years. It didn’t capitalize on my strengths, I didn’t enjoy it, and it was a small part of my business. Snap: gone!

Stop suffering (or putting up with). I found myself waiting longer and longer for my desktop computer to start up and to switch between programs. It was time to ditch the old computer and get a new one. I love my new laptop – it’s fast, portable, and it supports my business.

Realign, reorganize, repaint, refresh. I repainted my office (with help from my husband and son – thanks, guys!), reoriented my desk so that I look out into nature, and got rid of five boxes of books from my shelves. Ahhh. Sometimes all it takes to clear your mind is reconfiguring your workspace.

Balance. I wanted to be more available for fun times with family and friends. Not only did I drive from Ashland, MA to Tucson, AZ with my daughter to help her start a new chapter of her life, but I also took the time to develop new friendships and build on old ones. Each week I made sure I set aside time for this important aspect of my life.

Learning. I read a bunch of business books this past year, and I continued to improve my coaching skills by attending seminars and webinars. I now have some new tools to use with clients that are simple and very effective.

Try new things. Last week I tried a new exercise class at the gym called Tabata. Oh, my! It was definitely outside of my comfort zone. But it felt great to push myself, to have to stop in the middle because I was breathing so hard, and then to keep going.

Freedom. It’s one of my top values, but I hadn’t been paying enough attention to it. This year, I’ve enjoyed the freedom that comes with letting go of things that no longer serve me, whether it was an old exercise routine, an old computer, or a tired office layout. Change is always uncomfortable at first, but isn’t that how we all learn and grow?

Trust my decisions. I’ve been making an effort to make more decisions with my gut and my heart, as well as my head. The results have been better than I thought possible. Now that I know I can depend on all my intelligence capabilities, I don’t argue with myself (or at least not quite so much). I can just make a decision and trust it’s the right one.

As the year draws to a close, why not take some time to look back at your life, both professional and personal, and think about what you’ve learned? Questions to consider:

  1. What did you discover about your business? Yourself?
  2. What’s working for you and what’s not?
  3. What are you ready to let go of?
  4. How will you take this awareness forward?

As you reflect on 2015, I hope you, too, find it was supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!


The questions above are a great start to launching your master plan for 2016! Take it one step further and download your Goal-Setting Kit for 2016, where you’ll find ideas and structure for evaluating 2015 and putting a plan in place for an intentional New Year!