I never post on Tuesdays but I really wanted you to read this before 2015 ends.
In this post you will learn why it is important to review your 2015 and what to pay special attention to going forward into 2016.
Review your entire 2015 by writing down details of the past year on a piece of paper.
What you did. Where you’ve been. What you achieved.
Reflect upon your year, month by month. See what phases you went through. What realisations you had. How far you’ve come.
Look through your calendar diary. Look through photos you’ve made. I looked through my iPhone notes which held a lot of clues about my 2015.
If you can’t fit it all on an A4 page – that’s even better.
The purpose of this exercise is three-fold.
1. Is life happening to me? Or am I taking charge and making life happen for me?
2. Am I progressing?
3. Are there hidden messages in what I’ve done in 2015? Is there anything I should be paying more attention to? Are there things I should explore further?
When reviewing your 2015, be mindful of a few things:
1. Try to find common themes
Were there any overarching themes that recurred throughout the year?
You might even have to backtrack and go a few years back to see a common thread of interest throughout the year.
Was it drawing? Was it Mixed Martial Arts? Maybe you dabbled with animation and video editing as a stepping stone to completing a project?
Once you’ve established those themes, make a plan to continue to incorporate them into your life.
2. Plan forward with these themes
Plan forward with those themes so they occur with purpose, as opposed to being reactive and just letting them happen to you.
If you incorporate these themes into your future plans and do this consciously and with purpose – then you will have given direction to your pursuit.
And that’s why making your New Year’s Resolutions is a good reflective exercise to make sure that you actively pursue your interests with purpose. You can read about how to make Resolutions that last an entire year here.
Then maybe there will be an event ahead to culminate a period spent in immersion.
3.Build systems around these themes
If you don’t have a system that you can follow to make sure you are tending to your long-term plans, you’ll likely experience feelings disappointment when you do your year in review.
Because you’ll realise that you had a bunch of goals but had no system to support you in achieving them.
That’s why it’s important to build systems that will feed into any overriding long-term goals you might have.
A system is a self-imposed structure that is supposed to help you achieve your long-term goals.
For instance, basketball legend Kobe Bryant would wake up early in the morning to perfect his craft by shooting some hoops.
Cristiano Ronaldo has a habit of staying on the football pitch to practice some drills and free-kicks after all of his teammates have gone home and called it a day.
These athletes have built these systems with one goal in mind – to be the best in their sport.
And by religiously following these systems, they have achieved their long-term goal.
If you build systems and follow the process they entail, then you know you’re on track.
And whenever you might have doubts about your progress – know that you’re on track because the system you’ve built for yourself was specifically designed so that you succeed in getting what you want.
If times get tough – don’t scrap the system. Tweak it, build upon it, refine it until it best serves your progress.
These systems will be the ultimate metric to your progress.
If you don’t have these systems, what do you measure your progress by?
You might want to “have a model’s body” but how are you going to do that if you don’t have a system built around a gym routine or a healthy nutritious diet that would fuel your workouts?
Build a system and have faith in the process. Be mindful that the system you put a lot of thought into developing will carry you to your goals.
It’s a timeline of understanding for your personal growth.
It is a digital trail of all the epiphanies, realisations, nuggets of wisdom, and moments of clarity you’ve experienced.
It’s your body of work. A testament to your personality.
2. It will boost your overall level of happiness
In The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor suggests reflecting upon your week through a positive lens. This way you scan the week for good memories and slowly contribute to your overall level of happiness.
By having a blog, you scan the week for enriching and valuable experiences that you could share with the world.
Just by doing this you rehearse the interesting reads, valuable nuggets of wisdom and advice, and intellectually stimulating discussions you had over the past week.
3. You build an online presence
What’s one of the best things you can do for yourself before you graduate?
In his free e-book The Recession-Proof Graduate (click here for free download), Charlie Hoehn says you will maximise your chances of getting a job you’ll be happy with once you graduate by building an online presence.
How do you do that?
Charlie’s advice is to build an online presence by starting a blog:
“You can use it to write about what you’re learning, or jot down your ideas, or post travel pictures, or even videos where you talk about the latest project you’re working on.
There are absolutely no rules to what you can put on your blog. You just need to give people something positive to read and look at when they Google your name.
Why? Because it can help establish trust before employers ever talk to you.”
4. It establishes trust before employers even talk to you
By having a blog, you reveal your thought processes to the world. It becomes a reflection of your personality. It gives valuable insight into who you are as a person. It’s a personal journal (see #1).
For these reasons, it can be useful in differentiating you from the faceless résumés and set you on the right track to building trust with potential employers.
“If you want to use your blog as a way to get employers interested in you, I suggest you write about things that they’ll find valuable and relevant.
So you can write about your past experiences in a particular field, things you’re learning about, current projects you’re working on, etc. Just be honest and donʼt over-inflate your accomplishments.”
5. You can circumvent the gatekeepers with ease
If you have a book you want to publish, there really is not much point to selling it on Amazon unless you already have a following. If you don’t have a following – who are you going to sell to?
The best thing you can do is offer your work for free. If your book has 13 chapters – that’s 13 blog posts. One chapter per blog post.
This strategy worked for Tom Reynolds, the London ambulance driver who got a book deal based on his blog writings.
And of course this strategy worked for Hugh MacLeod. His book Ignore Everybody initially started out as a 13,000-word essay on his blog, gapingvoid.com.
“It was downloaded and read about a million times, then the next thing you know publishers started approaching me. Happy Ending.”
-Hugh MacLeod, Ignore Everybody
6. Over time, you will build a community of likeminded individuals with whom you can share awesome stuff
Over the couple of weeks or so I’ve connected with some really cool likeminded folk here on WordPress.
It’s awesome to see that there are others out there that share your passions and interests, and can reciprocate value.
“Who are the stars of today’s Internet world? Bloggers.
Those freewheeling cybernauts who set up sites and online journals to provide information, links, or just empathy to a community of like-minded individuals.
They do it for free, and they’re often rewarded with a devout following of people who, in return, offer as much as they receive. It’s a loop. In connecting, as in blogging, you’re only as good as what you give away.”
– Keith Ferrazzi in Never Eat Alone
7. You become more giving
Writing for this blog has helped me tap into the ‘giving’ part of my personality on a regular basis.
That’s not to say I’m not giving. We all are, but irregularly. I think you can agree with me on that.
As Keith Ferazzi noted in his book, by engaging in a continual effort to provide value to others, by sharing my knowledge and resources, time and energy, empathy and compassion – I coincidentally increase my own value.