This is the time of year when people are thinking about new year’s resolutions and goals for 2022.
During this time of forward-thinking and goal-setting, it’s important to start with some reflection. We must examine what lies behind us to make sure we have a realistic grasp of our context, celebrate the accomplishments, and understand where we can grow. When Socrates proclaimed so emphatically that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” he was asking us to reflect on how and what we do to ensure we find value and purpose, and he was asking us to live it out. But how exactly do we reflect?
Storytelling is a tool we can use to help us examine the last year. Stories force us to make meaning of events by putting them into a narrative structure . We can use storytelling with our teams at work (or our families at home) to reflect on the past year of accomplishments and challenges. This will help us prepare for 2022 in a meaningful way.
Here are five questions you can use with your team or by yourself to help you reflect on 2021 and prepare for 2022.
Reflect on your KPIs for 2021. What milestones did you hit? How did you reach these?
While the targets you met in 2021 are objective, the story of how you did so might be different according to each of your team members. Everyone’s perspective will bring to light a slightly different angle to help you develop a more detailed and well-rounded understanding of 2021. This question will help everyone be able to see how each person contributed to the overall successes you saw.
What moments of joy or success are you proud of?
Not all moments of joy and success will be directly reflected by KPIs. What other types of success did you experience at work or in your personal life? By telling stories of success that are not captured by quantifiable metrics or goals, it will help you and your team understand your growth as a team. These successes may very well inform your goals for 2022.
What were moments of disappointment or challenge?
Reflecting on what didn’t go right in 2021 could seem like an unwanted and daunting task. The pandemic didn’t just go away like we hoped and business was not back to usual after the vaccinations rolled out. But by discussing what went wrong in 2021, we can bring it down to size. Reflecting on the negative turns of 2021 can transform what once felt nebulous and overwhelming into a bullet point list that can be tackled in the new year or taken into consideration so that your 2022 goals are feasible.
Were there times in the last year when you surprised yourself? How will this surprise inform your personal new year’s resolution?
Maybe in 2021 you found yourself giving an impassioned impromptu speech during one of your online company-wide meetings. Previously, you never thought of yourself as one for the spotlight, but now you want to focus on cultivating your public speaking skills in 2022. You want to make sure your opinions are being heard!
Or maybe in 2021, you realized that working from home didn’t serve you as well this year as it did during the height of the pandemic. Yes, the commute was shorter and your productivity went up in certain ways, but you were surprised to find you missed the energy of the office. So in 2022, you want to figure out a hybrid schedule where you still get to come into the office a few days each week.
Whatever the moments of surprise may have been, let them shape your resolutions for 2022.
What are you grateful for?
A posture of gratitude is a great way to start goal-making for the new year. But dig deeper than the surface level answers such as “my family” and “my health.” Even though these clichéd answers may be in fact what you are truly thankful for, those two words don’t necessarily unlock the deeper meaning of why you are thankful for these things. To bring your gratitude to life, turn what you are grateful for into a story. If you are thankful for your family, think of the story when you enjoyed an afternoon in the park playing Frisbee and being silly with your kids. If you are grateful for your friends, tell the story of how they came to your aid this year, delivering groceries and home-cooked meals, while you struggled to overcome a health challenge. These stories will help us remember these moments and renew our gratitude.
And while we are at it, let’s include a goal of practicing gratitude on a regular basis in 2022. The act of being grateful is one way we can continue reflecting and examining our lives throughout the year. By acknowledging the good around us, we not only improve our own attitude and outlook, we inspire others. Studies have shown that gratitude at work boosts productivity .
 Finding Meaning in Difficult Family Experiences: Sense-Making and Interaction Processes During Joint Family Storytelling by Jody Koenig Kellas & April R. Trees
[2 ]Gratitude, the Gift that Keeps on Giving by Frances J. Flynn