December 5, 2023


The Past Year’s Goals: Navigating the Path Forward by Looking Back

By: Leah Nalepa

We’re half way through Q4. As another year draws to a close, it’s worth a moment to pause and reflect on the goals we set for this year, the strides we made, and the lessons learned. Reflecting on the past year is not just about reminiscing; it’s a powerful tool for growth, self-awareness, and setting a course for the future. It’s about learning how we can improve in the remaining days of the year. Before the holidays set in, we should earnestly take time to self-evaluate to determine how to move forward now and in the new year. 

Through reflection, I realized I struggle with consistency. Understanding where I’ve missed the mark, I determined new ways to tackle that challenge. Here are several reasons why I think now is the perfect time to think about this past year’s goals to move forward more informed and confident in our goal setting and habit creation.  

Embracing the Journey

The pursuit towards a goal is a pursuit towards excellence. We discover more of who we are along the way. Constructing new year’s resolutions as goals with specific strategies to achieve each one provides a tactical ladder on which to climb. Every goal, whether achieved or not, represents a journey of learning and growth. Reflecting on the goals set at the beginning of the year allows us to appreciate the progress made, regardless of whether every goal was met. It’s an opportunity to acknowledge the effort, recognize the challenges, and understand our response to those challenges.  

Revisiting Unmet Goals

If you’re a goal-setter, it’s easy to overcommit only to realize that some goals may be unmet. We often allow life to “get in the way.” Considering these unmet goals offers a chance to analyze what hindered their accomplishment. Was it a matter of unrealistic expectations, external circumstances, perhaps a shift in personal priorities, or even laziness? Understanding the reasons behind unmet goals helps in refining future aspirations.

Lessons Learned

Reflection on the past year reveals a treasure trove of lessons. It’s not just about what was achieved or left unachieved, but about the insights gained along the way. Perhaps it was resilience in the face of unexpected challenges, adaptability when plans changed, learning how to manage success, or the importance of perseverance and patience. These lessons are invaluable for personal growth.

Celebrating Achievements

Success, big or small, deserves acknowledgment. Reflecting on the goals achieved allows us to bask in the satisfaction of progress. Whether it’s completing a project, learning a new skill, or making a positive change in your life, celebrating these achievements is essential for motivation and self-esteem.

Reframing and Adjusting Goals

Now is the opportunity to recalibrate objectives, based on the insights gained. Are the previous goals still relevant? Have new aspirations emerged? Adjusting goals based on what’s been learned provides a clearer and more realistic roadmap for the year ahead. Don’t fall prey to the idea of overhauling your goals in lieu of new ambitions simply because it’s a new year. Rather, find ways to reapply yourself to achieve an unmet goal from last year if it’s remains relevant to your life. 

Cultivating Gratitude

Reflecting on the past year is an opportunity to practice gratitude. Gratitude for the opportunities, the support received, your family or friends that surround you, the challenges and lessons. Gratitude fosters a positive mindset and reminds us of the support network and resources that have contributed to our journey. 

Moving Forward

Reflection isn’t just about dwelling on the past; it’s about using that insight to move forward. Armed with the wisdom gained from the past year, it’s time to set intentions, create new (or rehash old) goals, and embark on a path that merges past experiences with future aspirations. It boils down to building habits and strategies to achieve the goals throughout the year, month, week, or day. 

As the year draws to a close, take a moment to reflect. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished, learn from mistakes, and set your sights on the path ahead, armed with the wisdom of the past. As for me, I created a new system to tackle monthly goals based on different areas of life and to stay accountable to others. I don’t want to wait until January 1st when I can do it now.