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Why looking back at the past year is not helpful

By 12/29/2016September 28th, 2017Management

The second half of December is traditionally the moment to look back to the past year. What did it bring you? What is there still to be reached? But I think this is not a smart thing to do. There is something better to do. You can read in this article what that is.

The advantage of looking back

Looking back past yearPersonally, I am someone who rather looks forward. Keep going! On to the next activity, the next milestone, the next experience. The adventurer in me likes to explore new things and do exciting new things much better than to sit and look back.

In the past years I have learned that looking back can bring me a lot. Most importantly because this way I connect with the things I have reached and can be content with that what I have accomplished. By looking forward too much and by keeping on going, I took too little time to enjoy and celebrate my successes. Even worse, without looking back I had the impression that I had not reached my goals; that there was still too much to be done. I focused on the future and on the things that were not finished yet.

By looking back, I can now see how much I have already done. The steps that I have taken become clear. I now focus on that what is already there. It gives me a lot of positive energy. That is something I use when moving on.

10 Questions in case you would like to look back at the past year.

On Facebook I came across the following list of questions that can help you reflecting on the past year. Although the title of this article suggest otherwise, it can be good to look back at the past year.

  1. What are your thoughts about this year? What’s your current mood when you look back?
  2. If you had to describe these previous 12 months, in a sentence, what would that sentence be?
  3. List down everything that you can remember, both positive, and negative.
  4. Ask yourself, what one event, big or small, is something that you will still talk about in 5 years?
  5. What successes, accomplishments, wins, great news and compliments happened this year and how did they make you feel?
  6. What single achievement are you most proud of? Moreover, why?
  7. So, what wasn’t so great this year? What ideas, goals did you have that did not happen? Why?
  8. What were the three or four biggest challenges you have faced, both in personal, and professional life?
  9. What are the most important lessons you have learned in 2016? Not only that but how did you grow? How did it make you wiser?
  10. Which of your personal virtues, or qualities turned out to be the most helpful this year?

Why it is not helping to look back at 1 year.

Short term Looking backAlthough looking back can bring you a lot in terms of positive energy about all you have reached already, using a 1 year term is often not helpful. Because in our civilization we work with terms of one year, it might sound logical to look back at just 1 year, but there is something better you can do.

I once read that we human beings overestimate the things we can reach in 1 year, but underestimate the things we can reach in 5 years. This wisdom seems to come from Tim Hurson’s statement that we tend to overestimate what we can do in the short term and underestimate what we can do in the long term. Note that the long term is something else for a national government than for a 6 year old child. That’s why for business the short term is set to 1 year and the long term to 5.

How you can bring in even more positivity

Looking back at the past year can give you the idea that you have not reached enough, that you wanted to have done more. That is why it is better to (also) look back at the past 5 years. What state were you in personally and with your business? What have you reached since? Which goals have you achieved? What impact have you had on the world? How did you grow as a person? If you like you can answer the 10 questions above for the past 5 years.

I would like to suggest that we share the successes, insights and major events that have happened to us in the past 5 years. Will you leave yours in a comment below?

One Comment

  • tisho says:

    Interesting, and I’d try to look back 5 yrs from now.
    2011 started a new relationship and started living together, decided to quit my unsatisfactory job, had a great summer
    2012 started a new job passionately, eventually quit it drained and disappointed, had a month off, went to my first intensive personal development training, found a new area unknown to me before – volunteering and youth work
    2013 first time long term volunteer, discovered new areas in which I developed lasting interest, inspiring and great new learning and growth, registered a domain and started designing my NGO
    2014 another long term volunteering project as a coordinator, joined a local NGO and ran it – multiple successes in terms of learning, growth, contacts, motivation, outcomes, new inspiration to start my own NGO, expanded my personal contacts and friends
    2015 busy year in terms of emotional growth and professional focus, got US visa approved, cut relationship and kept relating, stopped working for the NGO, clearly got a calling for creation of an organization of my own vision, culture, design and values, a rollercoaster year
    2016 rollercoaster got momentum, got the US visa, decided to go, got a ticket, prepared NGO registration documents, got support in that from many many great people, experienced even more and new trainings and confrontations, Smokinya Foundation became fact, flew to US, got financial support from even more people to attend a training, got support from people who got involved in the new NGO, great successes, 5+ life dreams came true this year, realized the difference between a dream as a thought process and as a actual result, experienced disappointment and dissatisfaction in the dreams that came true, lot of emotional moments, ups and downs, found new interesting questions, realized that the gap between a dream imagined and a dream come true can be tricky and better filled it with curiosity and fun, and now closing the year with appreciation, gratitude and curiosity what’s to come, made rough stroke intention for 2017.

    Thanks for the opportunity to reflect and put it out loud to the world!

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