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Beyond yearly resolutions: The benefits of retrospectives

As we enter the year, perhaps you are thinking of ways to improve and take on new challenges, most likely in the form of new year resolutions.

Whether you are a student, young professional or entrepreneur, the new year brings in reflection and willingness to try something new. 

New year new you! Why wait a whole year to change? 

A yearly retrospective is something that can improve everyone’s life. You can benefit from reviewing your current situation rather than waiting until the end of the year to set goals that rarely are achieved. The year retrospective originates from agile project management were development teams review the success of their latest IT project. In recent years, the concept has become popular across life planning and personal development.

“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten” – Tony Robbins

Eating healthy, going to the gym, learning a new language often loses meaning in the first few months of a new year, especially after the day to day challenges get in the way, slowly eroding your new year resolution(s). This leaves many people empty, often leading them to wait another year to try to be a better version of themselves, or even worse, giving up completely.

There is countless research to support those new year resolutions are not the best way to achieve long term success. You just need to type: ‘Why new years’ resolutions don’t work’ and you will be able to read hundreds of articles on the subject. With over 80% of resolutions not making it past February.

Often this failure is a cause of making too many resolutions, starting at the wrong time of year or making the goals too ambitious.

As a more practical solution, the yearly retrospective puts a spin on the 12-month target tradition by reviewing an individual’s current situation rather than creating new targets. Moreover, this technique can be reviewed as much or little as you want – daily, weekly, monthly, whatever works for you. The process becomes more action-oriented with no time to spend focusing on feelings. This is often where new year resolutions fail in the long term. The key that makes retrospective work is that it looks deeper into WHY something is not working rather than just doing something because you ought to.

To start a new year retrospective, you need to only think of three things:   

Something you want to start

 Reflect on areas of your life want to improve on and focus on developing a better version of yourself. This can be as small as a daily habit or long term change. The difference between starting something new as part of a retrospective and resolution come from reviewing.

Something you want to stop

Looking back at moments through a period of time – weeks or months. What activities in your life can you stop or reduce that will make you a better person going forward? This could be things that are eating up your time or negative thinking that hold you back.   

Something you want to keep

Can you reflect on your current situation and point out the things that are going well? As with starting something new, these activities can be small or big. Sometimes it can be difficult to identify what worked in the past but don’t let this hold you back.  

I have tried this method of reflection and personal improvement with outstanding success. I urge you to spend 30 minutes and start writing down a list of actions that can fit into the three categories above.  

Tell us what you think of this new way of looking at new year resolutions. Has this post convinced you to rethink your targets?  


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