The time between Christmas Day and New Year’s Day is excellent for personal reflection and evaluation. Few leaders dispute the value of learning lessons from the past twelve months; many fail to invest the time to do so.
The reasons why are shared by many leaders.
- Leaders are so overwhelmed between Thanksgiving and Christmas they mentally and emotionally go on cruise control after Christmas Day.
- Leaders have not found a process for reflection that fits their personalities or learning styles.
- Leaders intend to spend some time in reflection after Christmas, but fail to schedule the time on their calendars.
With these challenges in mind, here are seven different approaches to personal reflection and assessment between Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Ask for God’s Guidance
The two most widely used disciplines for discernment are prayer and Bible study. In prayer, ask God very specifically to teach you the lessons you need to learn from the past year. Choose Bible books or passages to read as part of your process. Record your thoughts and insights. I usually spend 30 to 45 minutes each day for five days in Scripture reading and prayer. Others prefer to take a day-long retreat.
Let Your Subconscious Work
One of the most effective methods of assessing the past year is getting your subconscious to work on the project. Choose a morning or afternoon before New Year’s Day to sit down and gather your thoughts about last year. A few days before that date, allow your mind to wander through recollections and observations from the past year. Record your key thoughts and observations. Once you reach your appointment, review your notes to focus your learning.
It takes me a few years with an organization before I use this method. This allows me time to find people I can trust to give me honest input graciously. I ask such questions as, “What did you see me do well this past year?” and “What opportunities did you see me miss this past year?”
Review your Timelines
Review your social media timelines. Remember that we put our best face forward on social media. So, look more for reminders of what happened this past year. Pay attention to what you omitted. Look over your calendars and travel log books as well. With all timelines, look for behavior patterns.
Request a Formal Review
I’m surprised at how many churches fail to provide leaders with formal evaluations. It often falls to the leader to ask for the assessment. I have a strong preference towards 360 Evaluations because people you interact with provide the assessment. Asking the Church Board or Board of Elders to make an assessment according to agreed upon criteria is another option.
Most leaders have taken more than one personality assessment. You could break out an old profile and review how much time this past year you spent in emotionally energizing or draining activities. Keep in mind, personality “traits” can change over time and “types” may shift with your context. I’m going back to StrengthsFinder2 for reflection this year.
Consult a Professional
Was this a difficult year for you? Does next year have a great deal of potential? Your best option could be seeking professional assistance. If you sense a need to understand why the past year was so challenging, consider a counselor. If you want to clarify how this year could build on last year, look for a coach. If you are sorting out how your relationship with God affected you last year and could impact you next year, contact a pastor.
What “best practices” have you learned for assessing the past year? Share them in the comments or shoot me a message. Similar posts on KevinWilson360.org include: