The holiday season is just around the corner, and many of you are either rushing to finish things up before the year end or are already on holidays, relaxing and recharging. End of December is a natural time to look back at the past year, reflect, and set goals for the coming 12 months. When going through that process, spend some time reflecting on all the amazing things you have done.

If you are reading this blog, you probably an ambitious person, a high achiever who strives to keep moving towards your goals. These features are fantastic, and entrepreneurs are the moving force of many national economies. Yet, another characteristic that comes with high performance is often focus on the goals not yet achieved. There is a tendency to set a goal, work hard towards it, achieve it, and rush to set another goal to work on, without even recognizing our achievement. In this holiday season, take some time to look back at what you have managed this year, acknowledge and appreciate yourself.

Acknowledging is not about leaning back, being satisfied with what is already done, and never striving for more. The ambitious person you are will stay ambitious, even if you give yourself permission to actually celebrate your accomplishments. What changes with reflection and self-appreciation is your learning curve, peace of mind and the joy in the process of moving toward your goals. Giving yourself time to stop at that top of the mountain you have been climbing for so long, look around, enjoy the views, pat yourself on the shoulder for getting here, is not a waste of time – it gives energy and clarity to perform better, it strengthens you. That’s the paradox of slowing down to speed up – if you act and don’t reflect, it takes you longer and costs more to achieve your next goals.

Research done at Harvard Business School has shown that call center employees who spent last 15 minutes of their work time on reflecting what went well today and what they can improve performed 23% better than the employees who used that time to keep working. Giving yourself time to look back, analyze, and feel what is working for you and what does not helps your brain to recognize the successful patterns and follow them in the future. As a founder, you might be used to debriefing, yet often we focus on what we can improve. My practice with high performing clients shows that paying more attention to what they have done well significantly boosts their learning process due to several reasons:

  1. Their self-confidence gets a boost when they shift focus from what they have not yet achieved to which progress they have made.
  2. Their self-esteem gets strengthened thanks to giving labels to their character traits that helped them achieve the goals. They learn that those traits are always in them and train to tap into these whenever needed, making it easier to accomplish more with less effort.
  3. Writing down or talking me through their successes creates clarity in what led them to the achievement. Success leaves clues, and it is a game-changer to systematically look for those clues and replicate them.

A personal audit with the focus on your accomplishments can change the way you set your goals for 2021. Try it and let me know what felt easy or where you got stuck. Or if this is already a common practice for you, I would love to know how it has affected your mindset and achievements.