Personal Inventory: Setting Up for Success in the New Year (and Decade)

 In Human Resources

The holiday season is also the end of the year, which makes it a great time to reflect—to review our progress from the past year and set ourselves up for success in the New Year. I don’t know about you, but this year-end seems especially significant to me because it’s not just the end of a year—it’s the end of a decade. For some, it’s just the turning of the calendar, but it actually provides us an opportunity to “re-set” on a major level—to think not just about what we want for 2020, but for the next ten years, and how we might pursue those goals.

So whatever your particular holiday traditions are, I’d like to encourage you to take a little time for some “personal inventory” between now and the end of the year—take stock of your situation and where you are with your own goals in preparation for the new year and decade. I call it “personal inventory” because that’s really what it’s about. It’s taking stock of where you are, what you have, and what you still want to do, so by the time the calendar turns, you’ve taken a deep breath and you’re now mentally and emotionally prepared to jump into the next season with both feet.

What does taking personal inventory look like? It might be different for everyone, but let me just share a step-by-step example of what it might look like for you.

Take Stock of Your Goals from the Past Year

Hopefully, you set at least a few goals or milestones for 2019. How did you do with them? How many of those goals did you reach? Did some of them get forgotten or fall by the wayside? This isn’t a time to self-judge, but simply to give an honest accounting of how this past year played out for you, and what you were able to achieve. Specifically, try writing down the following:

  • List your successes from the past year. (You might be surprised at how many there are when you actually count them.)
  • List your disappointments. Again, without self-judgment, list the things that perhaps didn’t go your way this year. (Remember, this is just inventory—taking stock of your own assets and liabilities, so to speak.)
  • List your unmet goals from the year. Try to recount what happened in each situation. Did something go haywire? Did you lose focus? Did you just not give yourself enough time?
  • Re-evaluate your goals. Are there any unmet goals you’d like to take into the new year? Are there any that are no longer important to you?

Put the Year to Rest

Once you’ve taken time to reflect on the past year, it’s time to close the chapter. Imagine yourself packing up all the events of the year—successes as well as failures—into an imaginary box that represents 2019. As you do, I recommend taking the following steps in your mind:

  • Take a moment to savor the successes. (Go ahead—you deserve it!)
  • Take a moment to mourn the losses (including any failures).  Give yourself permission to grieve, to feel sorry for yourself, just for a moment or two…then pack them in the box and move on. This is especially important if you’ve had a difficult year or faced some additional challenges.
  • If you identified any goals you’d like to carry over into 2020, pull those out of the box for next year.
  • Close the box, lock it and put it away.

Look to the Next Year

Now that you’ve put the past to rest, it’s time to look toward the future with a clean slate and the burdens lifted. Whatever goal-setting habits you have personally, it’s time to put those to use. (If you don’t have a goal-setting routine, check out this blog for some guidance.) Write down your goals, then set up some milestones and check points through the year to track your progress. Just as you closed the box on last year, you’re opening the box on a new one.

Establish Successful Habits

Once you’ve identified your goals, you can begin making plans for how you’re going to stay on track during the next year and beyond. If you haven’t yet started practicing my 5 Steps to a Successful Day, the New Year is a great time to hit the start button on it!

Whether you’ve had a good year or a disappointing one…regardless if you’re ending 2019 strong or if you would have preferred a different ending to the year…if you will take the time to conduct a personal inventory like I’ve described, I’m confident you can find at least a bit of internal closure so you can face the next year with hope and anticipation. If you are ending 2019 between jobs or careers and you want some help getting on track for 2020, I’m always here to help you reach those goals. Let’s have a free half-hour consultation together to take an inventory together. Email me at, or call me at 646-320-1126.

Happy Holidays, everyone!

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