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Many of us are reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the future. The end of the year also signals a traditional time for annual performance reviews – a time to receive constructive criticism, praise, and feedback from those around us. Whether you are in charge of giving those reviews or receiving one, there is another practice that should be added this time of year: self-reflection. What steps should you take in this critical review?

Conduct a Self-Review

Consider putting a formal structure to the process of self-reflection. The best leaders have a heightened sense of self-awareness and emotional intelligence. Introspection is essential for leaders as it gives the mind time to take a break from the noise, unravel cause and effect, and create meaning. This meaning creates a catalyst for actions rooted in purpose and intention.

Ask Yourself

  • Self-awareness often comes from reflecting on your experiences – both personally and professionally. Here are some good questions to start with in your self-review.
  • What am I most passionate about?
  • What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?
  • What am I most grateful for?
  • What are my goals in life? (health, career, family, financial, spiritual)
  • Who are the people in my life who have achieved similar goals? What can I learn from them?
  • Who are the five people I spend the most time with? Are they enabling me, or inspiring me to be a better person?
  • If I were to die tomorrow, what would be my biggest regret?

Making Excuses

Most would agree that the things worth having and achieving in life do not come easy. When the going gets tough, we have a tendency to make excuses for why we are not succeeding in our pursuits. We do this because it’s hard to accept the reality: if you want to succeed in any endeavor worth pursing, you have to put in the time and risk failure. We all know that it is easier to blame external factors instead of blaming yourself, and this habit can be one of the toughest to break, but is a true necessity for a high level of self-awareness.

What’s Holding You Back?

The next question: What holds us back from taking action on the change needed to improve ourselves? In other words, why do 98% of New Year’s Resolutions fail? It’s simple: the rewards of these changes are in the future, when the discomfort and discipline are right here and right now. Discussing change and goals can be inspiring, energizing, and stimulating! Yet it’s challenging to consider the discipline needed to reach those goals. There is no shame in being average or competent if you are unwilling to pay the price of excellence! Simply ask yourself if you are willing to pay that price, and what the price looks like for you.

Most of us are content to focus on external circumstances because it is simpler than looking inward. Our internal world is complex, with a varied landscape of emotions, feelings, and perceptions. Yet it is often the internal world that determines whether we are satisfied or no. For this reason, self-reflection may hold the key to greater well-being.

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