It’s natural to become contemplative when one year ends and another begins, and look back at what you’ve accomplished over the previous year. Unfortunately, this can also become a time to look at what you haven’t accomplished, and feel regret, frustration, or even shame about it. This can lead to lowered self-esteem, decreased motivation, and even depression. These are not the best conditions for a strong start to the year!


A period of contemplation does not have to lead to focusing on your failures or beating yourself up. Instead, it can be a positive, nurturing time that energizes and inspires you for the next phase. Here are five suggestions for turning your review of the past year into a powerful launch platform for you and your business in the new year.

1. Don’t be afraid to take stock.

If looking back sometimes brings up negative feelings, you may have developed the habit of avoiding lookbacks, or at least not looking too closely. Reassure yourself that this time you are going to review the past in a positive light, so there’s no reason to fear it. There is much to be gained from studying results and events you weren’t pleased with. Be willing to put on your detective’s cap and take out your magnifying glass.

2. Acknowledge what you’ve done right.

Review what you did and didn’t do over the past year, and what happened as a result. Pay attention to everything you did right. If you hoped to earn $100,000 last year, but you brought in only $85,000, note that you earned an impressive 85% of your goal, not that you fell $15,000 short.

One of my coaching clients came to a year-end session sad and frustrated that she hadn’t completed her book, and feeling like she should give up. Half an hour later, she recognized that for the first time ever, she had set aside time in her busy life to work on her book, and had written almost 100 pages. Instead of feeling defeated, she felt enthusiastic about her book-writing future.

3. Seek out your strengths.

Look over your inventory of what you did right last year, and determine what personal strengths of yours made those actions possible. Did you show persistence in following up with prospective clients? Creativity in writing copy about your services? Courage in attending live networking events? List all the strengths you notice.

Look for strengths in how you responded to what happened last year even when the results were not what you desired. Did you display open-mindedness when prospective clients told you why they didn’t accept your proposal? Did you show determination when you got back on the phone after being rejected? Adversity often brings out more strengths than success does. Make note of all the strengths you see.

4. Lock in what you’ve learned.

With all that has happened in the past year, what have you learned about yourself and the world around you? Focus on the positive. If you didn’t land enough clients last year, what did you learn from the clients you did get about what works for you in marketing and what your strengths are? Did your earnings take a dip in the 4th quarter? Then what had you done in the 3rd quarter that worked better for you, and what strengths showed up then?

5. Plan for the future, not the past.

If you didn’t get all that you wanted in your business last year, all the more reason to leave the past behind. Make your plans based on who you are becoming, not who you have been.

Review your list of what you did right last year. Impressive! How can you include more of those activities in the year to come? What will all that productive action make possible for you? Look at your inventory of strengths. Wow! What will that talented person be capable of?

A shiny, brand new year has arrived. You have the power to make it anything you want it to be. Just do what you already know works, take advantage of your strengths, and get ready to be inspired.

This post was first published in 2017 and has been updated for 2023.

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