A time for evaluation: Reflect on the past to build a brighter future

The holidays, starting with Thanksgiving and ending with New Year’s Day, give us the perfect opportunity to look in two different directions in our lives. Thanksgiving is a time to be grateful for everything we received and accomplished in the year, while New Year’s is a time to look forward and improve on our lives.

Looking back, you will often realize that what seemed like great challenges at the time often appear less severe in retrospect; while looking forward, you are presented with blank pages, waiting for you to fill them out with goals.

Jack Welch once said, “Change before you have to.” This applies to both your business and personal life, and most successful people are already taking this approach — and their achievements may make you feel like you are being left behind.

But as you look forward at what you want to achieve in the coming year, what are you going to do differently? You want things to change, but are you going to do what it takes to make it happen? Are you going to change your eating and exercise habits to lose the weight you want to shed? Are you going to come up with a plan to hit your revenue goals? Are you going to find a new way to motivate your sales team to hit their increased budget? Or are you just going to do the same things you’ve always done and hope for the best?

Maya Angelou summed it up best: “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.”

If you don’t take specific actions and create a plan to reach your goals — big or small — they most likely won’t happen. From there, you have to hold yourself accountable by adjusting your attitude. Break your goals into smaller chunks or weekly to-do lists, if that helps.

Getting better results, whether it’s for something in your personal life or something in your professional life, requires a change in behavior. Wholesale change doesn’t usually happen by chance. Wishful thinking is fun, but you’ll probably find yourself in the same spot dreaming about the same things next year if you don’t take action now.

Take some time this holiday season to be thankful for the past while planning for an even better future.