John Piper, one of my favorite authors, recently wrote:
“Aimlessness is akin to lifelessness. Dead leaves in the backyard may move around more than anything else — more than the dog, more than the children. The wind blows this way, they go this way. The wind blows that way, they go that way. They tumble, they bounce, they skip, they press against a fence, but they have no aim whatsoever. They are full of motion and empty of life.”
Have you ever felt like that leaf that John describes -- full of motion, but empty of life and purpose?
I think for most of us the idea of a new year brings a heightened sense of awareness around the brevity of life and the need to live with a deep sense of purpose. However, how many of us truly live like this?
I believe that one of the most vital steps in the process of purposefully moving forward starts with taking the time to look back in reflection. As you think about how you will make the most of 2019, I’d like to encourage you to start by looking back and capturing some of the key experiences and lessons from 2018.
The people who fail to take the time to reflect on and learn from the experiences of life tend to be the ones who continually make the same mistakes over and over again.
I have an extremely valuable and powerful exercise that I’d like you to consider doing based upon a leadership principle called reflection. John Maxwell’s Law of Reflection states, “Learning to pause allows growth to catch up with you.” Reflection is a powerful tool to evaluate and perpetuate growth.
The great Peter Drucker also wrote, “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From that quiet reflection will come even more effective action.”
In order to do this well, we can begin by doing three very important things…
Carve out 30 minutes in your calendar.
Find a place where you can think and write without any interruptions.
Brew a fresh cup of your favorite coffee or tea.
Now, take out a piece of paper and answer the following questions slowly and reflectively.
What is something you did this year that you will remember for the rest of your life?
What is something you accomplished this year that you are proud of?
What was the most challenging part of this year for you?
If you could change one thing that happened this year, what would it be?
What are three things you did this year that added the most value to someone’s life?
What are the three most important lessons you learned this year?
What is something that was hard for you at the start of the year but is easy now?
In what area do you feel you made your biggest improvements?
Of the books you read this year, which was your favorite? Why?
What person has made the biggest impact in your life this year? Why?
What are six adjectives that best describe 2018?
I personally did this exercise this morning and I’m going to tell you right now...if you take the time to do this, this exercise will change your life and lay the foundation for a deeply purposeful 2019.
I hope this helps.