Start the New Year with a Retrospective

Many people like to start the new year with resolutions. I’m not one of them. I don’t like resolutions unless they are very small action steps I can take every day. Too often, people select resolutions such as “Lose twenty pounds this year.” That’s big. It doesn’t have small things I can do each day.

Instead of a resolution, consider a retrospective. This works for you, your team, and your organization.

When I have retrospectives for myself, I ask these questions. They are based on a year, but if you perform retrospectives more often, consider saying, “since the last retrospective.”

  • What have I learned over the past year? I make a list of my accomplishments.
  • What have I not finished over the past year? I make a list of things I wanted to do that I still have not finished.
  • What do I not want to do? I often discover that in the list of things I didn’t finish, there are things I do not want to do at all.
  • What do I want to learn? Are there specific skills I want to learn?
  • What do I want to do? Are there specific accomplishments I want to achieve?
  • What has frustrated me or challenged me?

Now I have several lists. I know what I finished and learned. I know what I want to do and what I don’t want to do. I know what I want to achieve. I can now create an action plan or a kanban board that helps me visualize what to do, when.

I recommend a two-step process.

First, for everything I want to accomplish, how large are my goals? What is my first deliverable? What do I want to measure to know if I am on track or veering away?

I look for deliverables because then I can create small tasks or small stories to help me achieve my goals. I select measurements that allow me to know if I can accomplish my goal, or provide me an early warning signal that I will not.

Second, I create a plan for one month, so I can change my habits. That’s often a plan with deliverables, but the deliverables are not necessarily small. When I wrote one of my books last year, my deliverable was “Finish one chapter a week.” That’s still vague.

But I also created small deliverables, such as:

  • Generate a list of questions for this chapter.
  • Write an answer to one question each day.
  • Before each writing period, see if I have more questions to add to this chapter.
  • At the end of the week, see if I need to rearrange anything in this chapter.

I could then track the number of words I wrote, the number of questions answered and generated, and where I wanted feedback.

You can apply this to your work. If you want to change a habit, practice every day so your new actions become a habit. When I have daily deliverables, I’m not overwhelmed.

Instead of resolutions, try a retrospective with an inch-pebble-based action plan. You’ll give yourself a good start toward success.

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