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December is a lot of things. It’s the end of another year, it’s a time to celebrate Christ’s birth with family and friends, and it’s also a time to look back on the year and review everything that’s happened. You may have gone through a performance review at work, which is a wonderful thing! But have you ever given yourself a performance review? Think about everything you’ve done this year — professionally, personally, and spiritually.
I love this time of the year because I get the chance to look back and see what path God led me down over the past eleven months. My role at 4word, my time with my family and friends, and my relationship with my Heavenly Father all add up to a year I never could have imagined back in January.
You may be thinking back and wondering why you don’t feel quite as accomplished as you thought you would. Or maybe you’re not sure where to even start reviewing your year. Here are some of my methods for summarizing my year constructively.
Understand the Importance of Reflection
Reflecting back on the year is so important because of the encouragement it can bring, especially when remembering things that weren’t part of “the plan.” At 4word, we had not planned that thirty C-suite level women would be flying in for our Gala at the end of February. As we realized the amazing opportunity we were getting blessed with, we knew we needed to get these women together in one room to let them get to know each other before the Gala that night. That morning brunch was the highlight of their weekend! And because of this unexpected event, we were able to host a C-Level Forum in Washington DC, of which twenty five women attended.This “specialty” group is now a part of 4word’s strategy and an incredible opportunity for us to minister to these women in a way we never dreamed.
If you take time to reflect on your year, you will learn so much about yourself. This past year I have learned how much I CHERISH my time with my husband, Chris. We have always enjoyed spending time together; however, with his role as a partner in a global consulting firm and my role as founder and executive director of 4word and the corporate and not-for-profit boards that I serve on, we constantly found ourselves having to catch up on the weekends. This past year, our goal was to try to be together three full nights a week, a practice we began at the start of this year. Now, at the end of the year, I have learned that we need to try to have four nights a week together, so we have already agreed to alter our plan for next year. Reflection gives you a chance to take inventory — good and bad — and prepare to set off on the best foot possible in the new year.
Be Thorough in Your Review
Performance reviews at work are done to celebrate what you’ve accomplished and highlight areas that, with improvement, could push you even further into success next year. I say, why stop at just letting your work performance get reviewed? Take the time and humility to give yourself a review in your personal life and in your spiritual life. Here are three things you should do when giving yourself a review:
- Have a plan – The goal of your review should be to come up with a goal and plan for the new year. Chris and I agree to a plan for the following year by New Year’s Eve. Our plan includes our professional, relational, and spiritual goals as an individual, a couple, and a family, and as a part of our extended families, church and community. At 4word, we have an Operating plan that serves as a roadmap for each of our departments. Use what you learn about your past year and turn those discoveries into a solid plan for the next 12 months!
- Share the plan – Accountability is a surefire way to help safeguard yourself against fizzling out on your plan for the new year. Be brave and share your plan, with your spouse, a loved one, or a trusted confidant or mentor. As I mentioned above, Chris and I agree on our plans for each year. At 4word, we share our individual operating plans amongst the team and get them approved by our Board of Directors. Choose someone you feel you can trust and that you know will be honest with you, as this will be a key part of my next point…
- Review the results with someone who cares about all parts of your life – Your accountability partner needs to be someone who truly wants you to succeed in all areas of your life. How else will you get the cheerleader you need to keep going when the year gets tough? Chris and I look at how we are doing with our personal plan usually a couple times during the year. At 4word, the staff reports on the results of our operating plan quarterly with our Board of Directors, our Advisory Board, our volunteer leaders, and our donors. Give yourself some milestones throughout the year to help motivate you to keep going and have mini celebrations along the way!
Celebrate with Gratitude
Once you have reviewed every aspect of your life, it is important to not just make adjustments for next year, but to also acknowledge what you’re grateful for. A fantastic way to do this is to give back to the areas that have blessed you or that you are passionate about. My passion is to help women “believe what they cannot see.” Through 4wordwomen.org, I have been able to witness miraculous life-changing situations, especially through our Mentor Program. There are many causes that Chris and I are grateful for; however, a majority of my time, talent and treasure goes to support the work of 4word, my passion. If any of you share the same passion for 4word, we have our year-end giving campaign going on now. I would be honored for you to express your gratitude through gifting!
Reviewing your year is only worth your time if you’re willing to view everything that happened over the past year as an opportunity to be molded. We like to think that we have a plan for our lives, but the reality is that God is the one in the driver’s seat. His route for the year may have left you feeling disappointed, unheard, or maybe even sad this year, but I know that if you look back with an open heart, you will see the perfect plan in everything.
“Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe.” – Hebrews 12:28
Thank God for His sovereign goodness. Thank Him for giving you the detours, the roadblocks, and the total changes of direction. Use what you learned about yourself this year to create a goal for the new year that first, brings you closer to God, then your friends and family, your career goal, and your community. Giving yourself over fully to this approach will allow you to give fully to these important parts of your life. And that’s the greatest gift you could ever give.