Stocktake time: Reflect on your 2016

glasses-looking-at-cityIf, like me, you are wondering where the year went and how it’s possible that it’s only a week until Christmas, now’s a great time to stop and reflect on 2016.

At this point in the year it can be easy to wish the days away as you are on countdown to completing everything that needs to get done before you head on your summer break.

And so the hours run past quickly and we don’t take the time to reflect on what’s happened through the year.

Reflection is an important part of learning. It helps us better understand ourselves and also helps us identify where we can improve – not just the work we do, but how we live our lives.

It was the French philosopher and writer, Denis Diderot, who proposed that there are three ways to acquire knowledge: observation of nature, reflection, and experimentation. He said, “Observation collects facts; reflection combines them; experimentation verifies the result of that combination.”

So if you want to acquire more knowledge, collect some facts and then reflect on them.

The best way to do this is to go to your favourite ‘thinking’ spot. This could be in a park, the bath, a quiet room, or a noisy café. Once you are there, ask yourself:

  • What goals did you set yourself this year?
  • Did you achieve them?
  • If so, what helped you achieve them?  If you didn’t, what got in the way of your progress?
  • What did you learn this year – either about yourself or in terms of new skills/knowledge?
  • What most surprised you?
  • What most delighted you?
  • What do you need to throw out or leave behind?
  • What do you want to do differently next year?
  • What do you want to achieve next year?

I’m not a fan of doing the New Year’s resolution thing.  It’s all a bit too commercial and hyped – and the research shows that most resolutions aren’t followed through.

In contrast, reflecting on the year, identifying learnings and then making a realistic assessment of what needs to come next will help to set 2017 on a good path.

It’s a bit like cleaning out the closet. You need to work out what you want to keep and discard, or what new things you need so you can shine in the New Year.


Change happens. Make it work for you.


Michelle Gibbings is a change and leadership expert and founder of Change Meridian.  Michelle works with global leaders and teams to help them accelerate progress. She is the Author of ‘Step Up: How to Build Your Influence at Work’.  For more information: or contact

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