Time to Reflect: What Have You Done in the Past Year?

The New Year is almost here. We have a question for everyone:

Are we actually living a new year every year? Or is it almost the same year as the last with some minor differences?

“Some people say they have twenty years (experience), when in reality, they only have one year’s experience, repeated twenty times.” ~ Stephen Covey

Looking at the past can be a positive event, depending on what you focus on. There will always be opportunities we missed, for better or for worse. If you focus on these, you will be miserable.

We like to look at the past to review and reflect. What were the goals we set for ourselves at the beginning of the year? Did we accomplish them? If not, why?

Focus on the things you’ve learned. Appreciate the failures, because these allowed you to grow.

What will you do different going forward?

Reflecting on the Good and Bad of the Past Year

Alejandro:

Oh Boy. What a year!

A lot of work, a lot of sacrifices… a lot of sowing… And I’m excited already about what’s coming soon!

In many ways, this has been my best year so far. I’ve pushed myself to the limits in many ways. Almost nothing was left on the table. Hopefully, you are feeling the same way. If not, you still got time. One more month to take action.

Time flies… It seems like yesterday we were at the orientation of our MBA program. We have all moved on to elective courses, and now are focusing on what we are passionate about. And this is great, but I also have to admit I miss my cohort and the camaraderie that we built during the core courses of the first year.

If you are considering joining an MBA program, GO Full Time! I am biased, but it’s been a life-changing experience. I am thankful for everyone at Bauerbecause they’ve made it possible for me to work hard and make the most out of every opportunity.

All the knowledge acquired through the program, and the relationships I’ve built, has allowed me to do meaningful work. I have been able to build a strong brand, that is now allowing me to help other people do meaningful work too.

Lots of books read too. Not as many as my goal (20), but close (13). But I still have a couple of weeks. Who said two books a week? The clone is going to have a hard time on this last stretch of 2016, lol!

Many networking events!

Probably more than a 100 if I count coffee chats and the Bauer Ambassador’s events. This is probably the thing that was further away from my comfort zone, and it’s been the activity that has given me the most growth and rewards (I guess all those quotes about life beginning at the end of your comfort zone are true).

And as Matt has mentioned before, there was also a lot of sacrifices.

I had to sacrifice some of my good habits (doing exercise regularly). And this is probably just an excuse. This excuse will be eliminated from the universe soon, as we talk about setting goals for 2017.

Some of my most valued personal relationships also took a toll. I’m very good at doing because I can get laser focused easily. And this makes me have big blind spots. I apologize to those close to me that I haven’t given enough lately.

This will also change soon.

Matt:

You might be wondering, why should anyone reflect? Shouldn’t we just move forward? Well, the answer is simple . . . we need to look back on the year to see where we succeeded, failed, grown, and understand why we are in our current situation.

Most businesses use December as a time to look back on the year and plan for the upcoming. You should do the same as a high-achieving professional. Take time to sit, think, and write out the best and worst moments of the year. Knowing where you have been will help you determine how to reach your future goals as you are a little smarter and wiser.

As I look back on 2016, it has actually been very difficult professionally. In 2015, I started Elisha Consulting as a marketing company to help small to medium businesses and nonprofit organizations. The business was doing well, so well that at the end of 2015 I was hired by a consulting firm. I thought it would be a dream job.

Good pay, benefits, working with great clients, and the comfort of consistent work. Well, it didn’t last long. I enjoyed my peers, and am still in contact with some, but I was not a good fit. In fact, I only made it 4 months. Within the span of one week, I graduated from Bauer College of Business with an MBA and was let go from the consulting firm.

I had graduated with many awards on a Friday and was jobless by the following week. My classmates were starting amazing jobs and I was starting with nothing.

Immediately, I restarted Elisha Consulting and it has done well. I also started Your MBA Purpose, an online platform for professionals to become their ideal self. In just two months the site was getting over a 1,000 visitors and continues to grow!

As I look back on 2016 the main thing I have taken away is I am fine with making less money as long as I enjoy what I do.

I might work 6-7 days a week, but it’s mainly because I love what I do! I have two steady clients where I am their acting Marketing Director, Your MBA Purpose is building momentum, and a new business will be launched in 2017 (I can’t wait to share this one with the world!!).

As you look back, think of the overall arch of the year. Where did you start? Where are you now? Are you enjoying your job? If not, what could you do to improve your situation in 2017?

We have nearly 100 articles/videos on professional development, finding your dream job, how to interview, what to wear professionally, networking tips, and much more.

During your reflection, if you are ready for a change, check out our free resources to become who you want to be.

Habits We Developed in 2016

Alejandro:

Your habits are your life. Period.

What are the things you do every day consistently? Those are the things that will dictate how your life will look in the future.

If you don’t have strong habits then you have a weak foundation. Everything you would like to build in life (a career, relationships, hobbies, etc.) will depend on that foundation.

For years I didn’t have to deal with traffic. During my last years of living in Venezuela I had a motorcycle, which allowed me to skip traffic. Because there you can drive between cars without having problems with the law. In fact, you would even see motorcycles on the sidewalks.

When I lived in Panama I also had motorcycles. And you could also drive between cars. So again, no traffic.

And then I moved to Houston. And my commute is about 45 minutes… each way… without traffic…

I did the math, it’s about 40 hours a month driving. I wasn’t going to waste all that time. So I decided to start listening to podcasts. By far the best habit I’ve developed during 2016.

Most of the time I’m driving, I am listening to a podcast. The best thing is that listening to podcasts led to other good habits. Such as meditation.

Meditation is for Losers!  That is an idea I don’t share, and in that post I write about the benefits meditation has brought into my life. I am able to appreciate more, and not let my emotions and thoughts take control of the quality of my life.

I can now, most of the time, pick the emotions and thoughts I will focus on. It’s like being able to see The Matrix.

There is another activity I kept hearing and reading over and over. In different podcasts, articles, and from friends. All were recommending the habit of journaling.

Just like meditation, being a left-brain person, journaling didn’t make much sense to me. But I did it anyway. So many successful people can’t be wrong.

I adopted the 5-minute journal methodology. And it has helped start my day with a laser focus on gratitude, on what I need to do to push myself out of my comfort zone and to appreciate the small things in life.

If you are deciding on a new habit to develop during 2017 I would recommend one of these:

  •  Listening to Podcasts
  • Meditation
  • Journaling

And the most important thing is that you have to strive to do it every day. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a day.

I was 2-3 days away off the 90-day milestone in Headspace and I missed a day. And had to start all over again. I’m back to 60 days in a row now. Failure is not definite, giving up is.

Don’t give up. Never retreat, never surrender, this is Your MBA Purpose!

Matt:

In the last section, I discussed an overall reflection and would recommend the same for you. Take some time to think of the year as highlights and low-lights, essentially if you only had 2-3 minutes to describe your year, what would it look like?

Once you know the highlights, it is time to examine the specifics. What habits have you developed? What is your daily routine? For your overall look back, you might come to the conclusion you are not where you want to be professionally or personally. It is likely due to your habits.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” ~ Darren Hardy

Your life is the sum of your habits. The things you do daily in your routine add up to a bigger picture. Are you cultivating positive or negative habits?

In the past year, there are 3 habits which really stand out as pushing me forward in my personal and professional development.

1) Working out, a decade ago I was a personal trainer and have always enjoyed exercise. Yet, at the end of 2015 I was the heaviest I had ever been due to snacking, stress, and not working out. In 2016, I simply added the habit of working out every morning Monday-Friday. Nothing crazy, just 30-minute routines and I went back to practicing Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Exercise combined with eliminating snacks allowed me to lose 15 pounds and feel like I am in my early twenties. Little changes made a huge difference.

2) Audiobooks, driving anywhere in Houston takes time! I have spent hours in traffic going to a client site or networking event. I would listen to the radio and always felt the time was wasted. Not anymore. Whenever I am in the car alone, I am listening to a book. Now I actually look forward to long drives and have consumed a dozen audiobooks. These books have transformed the way I think and made me a better consultant and person. Check out some of my favorites.

3) Trust, this is a little more abstract, but I have always had issues with trust. During 2016, I have slowly and deliberately started to trust more people. Now, I am working with Alejandro on Your MBA Purpose and we are finalizing a new venture in 2017 with two other people (seriously, can’t wait to share!!). A year ago, I could not have imagined trusting others as I do now. It was something that occurred slowly.

What habits have you developed in 2016? For me, none of these habits led to anything big overnight. It took 6 months before I felt like I was in shape, it was only the last couple of months when I saw positive results by using techniques learned from audiobooks, and it was actually just in November where my trust went to a new level.

Your habits likely look similar. It will take months to see results. Look over 2016, and see where you have grown. In the upcoming articles we will walk you through how we set goals and follow through to build habits which have a lasting impact.

Summary

Your goal for 2017 should be to build simple habits that will lead you to other great things.

Think of it as a chain of dominoes. Building habits is the first small domino of the chain.

You may want to earn more money. To lose weight. Find a job you enjoy. These are all big dominoes, that are towards the back of that chain.

Putting small and daily habits first will allow you to set up that chain of dominoes in a way that once it starts falling, nothing will stop it. You will be unstoppable once you have a strong foundation of daily habits. 

If you are looking for a little head start, here are some of the podcasts we recommend:

  • The Tim Ferriss Show
  •  Freakonomics Radio
  • TED Radio Hour
  • The Tony Robbins Podcast

Another important part about being able to develop new habits is having an ecosystem that supports it. You need to be surrounded by other people who are working hard to better themselves. People who will keep you accountable, and will push you to succeed.

We are aware of this, and we are working on a way to help you all be part of a purposeful ecosystem. Great news is coming soon on this topic. You are not alone on this journey to a purposeful and meaningful life!

This is a series of articles by Alejandro I. Sanoja and Matt Avery, see our past articles here.