The time around Christmas and New Years is perfectly made for reflecting on the past and planning for the upcoming year. I'm calling this year's exercise "Hindsight 2020" because when we look back we can see things more clearly. 2020 has been a year of the unprecedented, so it's been next to impossible to navigate it well and see things clearly while we've been in the middle of it. Soon, we will have a little space between us and 2020 to give us the perspective we need to plan for a new and better year.
I haven't had 20/20 vision since I was about 7 years old, but I never really knew why good vision was described that way. According to the American Academy of Ophthalmology, a person with 20/20 vision can read what the average person can on an eye chart when standing 20 feet away . The top number is the number of feet from the eye chart and the bottom number is the number of feet away from the chart that the average person can read the same line. For example, if my vision is 20/200, at 20 feet away, I can read only what an average person can read at 200 feet away. We often think of 20/20 as perfect vision, but it's really just average because someone could actually have better than 20/20 vision. A person with 20/15 vision they can see as well at 20 feet away as the average person can at 15 feet.
The analogy of the eye chart gives me a little comfort. The standard of 20/20 is not perfect - it's average. In our daily lives, we are pushed to perfection and it seems being average is not good enough. All of us have been using the phrase 'hindsight is 20/20' to mean that when we look back we can see perfectly what we should have done. I'm really happy to re-frame the expression to mean that when I look back, I'll have a better idea of what was actually happening or how things could have gone better, but I don't have to expect my view to be perfect - just better than it was when I was right in the middle of the experience.
I want to appreciate the year 2020 for what it was, what it gave me, and what it taught me. But I think the most powerful part of 2020 was what it WASN'T. Recognizing what we missed, what disappointed us, and what we regret can teach us so much about how to live in the future.
An exercise I do every year is to ask myself some simple questions about the past year and then some similar questions about the upcoming year. I then look at the themes I see through these answers to help narrow my focus for the next year. Finally, I set goals around those areas of focus to help me be successful. ,
This year I tweaked the questions a little bit, and I also asked my kids these same questions and shared some of my answers with them (though this is a very personal exercise, and you should't feel the need to share your answers with anyone unless you want to!) These questions led to a great discussion with my kids, and helped me solidify even more what I wanted to focus on in 2021. Try it out!
1. What made you feel proud or successful this year?
2. What made you happy this year?
3. What caused you stress this year?
4. What are you disappointed you did not do this year?
5. What did you do this year that you regret?
1. What would your fantasy self accomplish next year?
2. If your wildest dreams came true next year, what would happen?
3. If money were no object, what would you do next year?
4. If you didn't care what others thought, what would you do next year?
5. What are some key things you want to avoid next year?
If you are looking for support in setting goals and achieving them in 2021, check out the accountability group I lead called Achieve! The next session starts in mid-January. Spots are limited, so if you are interested, please reach out for more information!
For some more reflection, planning and goal setting, check out past posts on the topic:
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!