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6 questions about 2013

Warning – thinking required.

This blog post will only take a few minutes to read, but longer to digest and ponder.


2013 clock

It’s nearly the end of the year – and what a year!

Think back over 2013, all the way from January through till now. How was it for you? What’s your story of the past 12 months?

Before looking forward to 2014 it’s time to pause and look back retrospectively and take stock of what happened.

Some of you may be used to having regular retrospectives in the office at the end of a short cycle of work, but have you ever done it for your life?

Seems like a sensible idea, so let’s give it a try.

I’ve put together a short list of 6 questions and a plan of how to approach answering them.

Like most things in life, you get out what you put in. Here’s an opportunity to do some light-weight self analysis, write some stuff down as it comes to you over some time off away from the daily grind.

Whether you choose to do it or not is up to you, but please make a deliberate choice.

For those that want to take action let’s jump to it.

Here’s the plan –

  1. Read this post in full

  2. Decide on what tools you want to use to keep notes (pen and paper / mobile app / word)

  3. Grasp your tool (snigger)

  4. Consider the first question and write a list of what comes to mind.

  5. Stop before answering the next question. A day apart worked best for me, but I suggest a minimum of an hour. It’s important to give yourself the space to consider each of these in turn and in their own right.

  6. Answer the next question

  7. Add to the previous answers over time, you are never going to think of everything in 1 hit.

  8. At the end of this exercise, whether it’s taken you a day, or even a week then review the whole thing.

  9. Give yourself a pat on the back, sit back and smile.

We spend most of our time worrying about what’s next and what we haven’t done, but it’s very important to deliberately make time to review and celebrate what we have achieved or completed.

Although it feels awkward and uncomfortable we need to check in with ourselves and remind ourselves of what we bring to the party. Remind ourselves that we are valuable to our work place, our friends, family. And also that there is always room for improvement.

In order to work out what to do next (more of this in January) we need to understand what has happened and having a few days off for Christmas seems a good time to reflect.

Here’s the questions –

Question 1 – What big things did I do?

Any big event that shaped your year should go on this list. This is going to be unique to everyone, but include a cross section of positive and negative aspects of both home and work life.


Changed job / started a blog / competed in a triathlon / gained a qualification / fell in love (with a place / person / or thing) / got fired / got promoted / came out / stayed in / went on holiday / got married / got divorced / got pregnant / got someone else pregnant / completed a project / had a sabbatical / moved home

Question 2 – What little things did I do?

These are more of the day to day things or small incidents that only had a passing impact, but some impact none the less.


Had an argument at work / gave money to a tramp / organised a team meal / resolved a dispute / gave someone directions / bought a tea or coffee for a colleague without them asking / read more books / read less books / ran your first workshop / started meditating / did a yoga class / got home from work later / went in to work later /  took more time off / took less time off / listened more / sent less emails / tried to judge people less / received a great present / got good feedback / gave good feedback / donated time or money to a charity / spent a lot of time on conference calls

Question 3 – When was I an asshole?

Whilst some people are much better at being assholes than others, I doubt very much that there was not at least one occasion during the last 12 months when you were in fact, an asshole.


Ignored someone’s phone call / didn’t respond to someone’s email / told a lie / laughed at someone else’s expense / gossiped about a colleague / deliberately excluded someone / shouted at the kids / pretended not to see someone I knew on the train

Question 4 – What did I learn?

This can be things you learnt about yourself, job, friends, family etc.


Project plans are pure fantasy / Managing people takes a lot of time and effort / working with facts rather than emotions at work is better / at the age of 38 nose hairs develop a mind of their own and start growing at an exponential rate / sign-off on requirements always takes longer than you think / people can change (if we just allow ourselves the space and patience to try, bit by little bit) / there will ALWAYS be scope creep

Question 5 – What made me uncomfortable?

I’m not talking about that mild bout of constipation mid March. This one is really important. Whilst we do our best to avoid situations that make us feel nervous, they will happen, and regardless of the outcome you will come out the other side stronger.


Having to react to confrontation / clearly setting boundaries with a colleague / giving a presentation to a senior executive / changing jobs / disagreeing with a family member

Question 6 – What made me proud?

Sometimes stuff just happens around us that makes us feel good about ourselves, but mostly pride comes as a direct result of our actions. Often this builds up over time rather than being a quick hit so even if you felt pride after a single event, also think about what got you to that point.


Standing up for something you believe in / saying ‘no’ to someone / getting a new job / completing something / fulfilling an ambition / started something new / providing for your family / supporting someone through a difficult time / giving your time up for others / received positive feedback.


Final thoughts

We all want to succeed at work and in life but success means different things for different people.

I hope that this post you gives you a sense of satisfaction about everything that’s happened, and highlighted and reminded you of the successes you achieved in 2013.

I also hope that it gives you a sense of excitement for everything that could happen in 2014.

Well done you.

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