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Reflect on the past and plan for the future

The end of the year is an ideal time for self-assessment, both personal and professional. Take this opportunity for a real introspective look at yourself. It is not always a fun exercise as you look back on the year coming to an end. 

When you consider relationships, both personal and in your work life, there may be glaring areas that need improvement. It will take commitment and work to make improvements.

You can consider where you have been and where you want to go. Reviewing any losses and struggles that may have occurred, as well as the appreciation of any good fortune or accomplishments in the past year are very appropriate before starting a new year.

The turning of a new year will not automatically rescue us from past habits or holes we may have dug ourselves into. A dream of changes that will make us happier and healthier must be turned into action.

Self reflection may be a bit uncomfortable but truly necessary to make the best of the life we have remaining. It is a wonderful opportunity to consider and plan what we wish to do in our lives going forward.

A Japanese man named Yoshimoto Ishin developed a method of self-reflection called Naikan. Naikan means “looking from the inside.” Using his strategy you can design reflections in the following categories.

1. People (meaningful relationships)

2. Travel (trips to places, visits to meet people)

3. Objects (like your car or computer)

4. The environment (i.e. the air)

5. Difficult situations (i.e. a flat tire incident)

6. Accomplishments

Thinking through and reflecting on the topics above, seeing life as it is, can be not only the foundation of personal change, but also the basis for faith, compassion and a profound sense that we are cared for more deeply than we may have ever realized.

Ask yourself the following questions.

• What did you discover about yourself in the past year?

• Which of your personal qualities were the most helpful in the prior year?

• Which new skills did you learn?

• What was the most important lesson you learned?

• What was the biggest obstacle you overcame?

• Who were the people you enjoyed most spending time with?

• What was your relationship with family members like?

• What things did you enjoy doing the most?

• What major goal did you accomplish?

• What was your greatest disappointment?

• What changes did you make?

• For what are you particularly grateful?

The questions listed above along with many others can help you reflect on and appreciate the events of the prior year and open up thoughts for the year ahead. A new year offers a fresh beginning.

In business you start the new year with zero sales, zero profits. It is a chance to start over, a time for positive change.

Your choice is optimism or pessimism. Your perspective has a dramatic effect on you and has the power to affect other people. You have the  ability to choose what your attitude will be.

It is good to have dreams and goals and when coupled with the desire and will to make things happen you can move forward and stop waiting for success to come to you. Making good choices will shape the future. Everyday decisions can make huge differences in your life and get you to where you want to go. 

Choose optimism. Choose a grateful attitude.

“Reflect upon your present blessings — of which every man has many — not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” — Charles Dickens, “A Christmas Carol.”

Becky Vaughn-Furlow retired from Trustmark Bank as executive vice president and human resources director. She can be contacted by emailing bvaughnfurlow@gmail.com.