Reflect Back to Move Forward

The end of a calendar year is a natural time for personal reflection. It’s a process I do every year, as a way to celebrate victories, examine lessons learned, and gear up for the year to come.

Each year the format varies. This year I journaled the answers to seven questions, perhaps you will do the same. Give yourself a couple of uninterruptible hours, maybe enjoying a glass of Merlot, and reflect. For maximum benefit, write them down and reread them next year this time.

1. What am I most proud of?
Being proud does not mean being boastful, but recognizing your accomplishments—no matter how small—is essential to being able to feel good about various aspects of life.

I’m most proud of my family, brought closer together with a frisky new puppy. I’m proud of relationships with my clients, and the friendships that continue long after the projects are complete. I’m proud of my work team, especially Kavitha, Kurt, Ashley and Bill. I’m proud of myself for adopting a simpler life-style. And my wife Sinee- she is the best! What’s on your proud list?

2. What did I learn?
I learned the need to reorganize my working and home environment to serve my needs. That means having my working tools in order and accessible and eliminating the pockets of clutter, both physical and psychological.

I also learned that spending an afternoon raking leaves stresses little-used muscles—and can lead to three days in bed recovering from back spasms. Not the best memory, but one that inspired me to ask Santa for a leaf blower this year.

3. What do I need to pay more attention to?
There are a million things vying for our attention. By paying more attention to what truly deserves attention, life flows more smoothly.

After a long and adventurous career, it means paying more attention to my end game. I’ll never retire, but need to find ways to leverage my expertise and serve clients with less airplane travel. What calls for your attention?

4. What am I most thankful for?
Having an attitude of gratitude matters for a variety of reasons. It’s easy to get derailed and focus on what isn’t there rather than what is present in one’s life.

On a recent family vacation, we enjoyed the beauty of nature on along the Oregon coast. This inspired me to think about all that I am thankful for, including continuing good health, loving relationships, stimulating work, and the ability to make a difference in the lives of my friends and clients (which often overlap). What’s on your gratitude list?

5. What do I need to learn?
It’s a cliché to say that the only constant is change but what’s true is that these up-tempo times require continuous learning to survive and thrive amidst constant change.

One area I need to beef up is my facility with electronic gadgets. While I am a whiz-bang fast typist who can still make a keyboard smoke, there are productivity secrets I’m not using. Hello, App store!

6. What do I need to let go of?
Carrying grudges around is heavy work that robs energy and the awareness of being here now. But reframing past situations and letting go opens you up to possibilities in the present that could otherwise be overlooked.

A couple years ago my maintenance man (who had earned my trust working for me the previous decade) went bad. He rummaged through some boxes stored in the garage and found unused credit cards and checks which he decided to cash in. Fortunately, he got caught and served a year in prison. I later discovered that he had also stolen my wedding ring and other precious items of both personal and financial importance. While it’s hard to forgive his trespasses, continuing to be angry at him doesn’t serve me. That event is now history.

7. A year from now, what would I like to be different?
If you had a magic wand and could make conditions significantly different and better in the future, what would that be?

Make your magic wand wishes things you can actually make happen through focus, discipline, and commitment. For me, my list looks like this: I will weigh 15 pounds less; I will publish one more book; my online programs will be changing lives around the world, and I will continue to appreciate the many blessings we all enjoy each day.

What is your waving wand conjuring up? Think big, step up, and make it real.


Terry Schmidt facilitates culture-changing and life-inspiring event which boost performance and productivity.  His audiences have included nuclear engineers, psychiatric nurses, state governors, geeks, and CEOs. Check out for more information.

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