Reflect on What Went Well This Year

Blue sky reflections

December is the darkest time of the year in the northern hemisphere. If you’re in the southern hemisphere, go ahead and pour yourself another iced tea, relax in your lounge chair, and enjoy these long, sunny days. 

Whichever hemisphere you live in, the New Year is only weeks away. Not only a New Year, but we’re on the cusp of a new decade. This is a good time to review 2019 to see what you can learn from and what your next steps will be moving forward. Some wait until the last day of the year to do this, some people never do it, but for those with goals and aspirations, giving your mind a little more time to reflect and then make future plans simply works better. 

We’re looking at this through the lens of our book publicity and marketing, of course, but you can apply it to all areas of your life. Here are two questions to ask yourself:  

  • What worked in 2019?
  • What didn’t work in 2019?

Simple enough,  but don’t let the simplicity fool you. Allow yourself time to really think about each question. Answering those two questions can put you in a powerful position to move into the New Year with gusto. 

It’s not a secret that our culture is crazy-busy these days, so it’s especially important that you quiet yourself down, shut out the noise (both outside and inside), and reflect. No need for FOMO. It’s all happening inside of you for now.

What worked in 2019?

Write down all your successes and all the good things that happened throughout the year and congratulate yourself. Because most of us tend to look for our faults and dwell on the negative, you now have permission to look at all the ways you really did well. Again, congrats to you!

What didn’t work so well in 2019?

Once you’ve given yourself lots of pats on the back, then we can look at what didn’t work quite so well. Maybe you tried some strategies, tools, or tactics that didn’t give you the results you were looking for. That’s okay. Take it as constructive feedback and it becomes how we learn. Now you know some things that don’t work for you. Congratulations on finding this as well. 

Now, it’s time to look out into the future….

I am a planner, which is a good thing considering the work I do.  Look out into the future, all the way out to where a project or campaign is complete, look back through the details that got it there, and then figure out all the steps it took to get there. This is a great way to reverse engineer the life of your book. I do this with each and every client I work with. I don’t necessarily walk them through this with me (although sometimes I do), but it gives me direct feedback on what I can do to help make their campaigns successful. I call it “walking your timeline.”

You can go out as far into the future as you want to, but go out at least one year. Pretend it’s December 2020. What happened this past year with your book? Where are you now as you stand in late 2020. Were you successful? How? In what ways? Look around in your mind. What do you see? What are you saying to yourself? What are other people saying to you? And what feelings are you having? Are you excited? Happy? Inspired? Write it down. For some people, it is very natural and familiar to go to all the bad feelings. We want to do something else here. Feel good!

Now, you might find yourself saying things like, “I don’t feel anything. How am I ever going to be successful with my book? What good is doing this exercise? You can’t think your way to a bestseller.” If this is you, then let me say that this takes a little practice and you just don’t have this mastered yet. Keep going, but consider this…

You want to be saying things to yourself such as, “Wow! I am amazed at what can be accomplished in one year! I’m so happy with all the coverage I’ve received for my book. I’ve done a ton of interviews and my platform has grown substantially.” Each person is different, so the point is that you say things to yourself that make you feel good, confident, and inspired. You feel successful. You’ve had an amazing year! 

Once you’ve generated that feeling of success internally, then look back to the present, December 2019, and notice all the things that had to happen for you to get to that place in 2020. Let things bubble up in your mind and start writing them down. It doesn’t matter if it seems crazy in the moment, capture all the ideas and write them down. This is where the reverse engineering begins. What was the very first step? Do you need to do more speaking? Do you want to travel around the country doing events and speaking and selling books? Do you want to do webinars from the comfort of your own home? What is it? Remember, it’s December 2020. 

Keep asking yourself, “What do I want?” 

What do you want? It’s a great question because if you really pay attention to your own response and that of others, you might notice a tendency to say what you don’t want. I don’t want my book to fail. I don’t want to be lonely. I don’t want to be broke. I don’t want to be fat. I don’t want to be invisible with my book.

The second you notice yourself doing that, you must reframe it into what you do want. Studies have shown that the brain doesn’t process a negative, so when you say you don’t want to be fat, your mind creates a picture of being fat. Not useful. However, if you say, I want to be lean and fit in 2020, a different picture comes to mind. Or, I want my book to be reviewed and featured in 20 different media outlets. Now, you can’t always control what other people do; we’ve talked about that before here, but you can control what you do, and coming up with great ideas is the best place to start. 

Usually, people do this kind of reflection the week between Christmas and the New Year, but I suggest starting the process now. This is something that needs time to percolate. It’s a little like writing a term paper: You’re going to get a better final piece if you give yourself a little more time to create it rather than starting the night before it’s due.

Look over your lists. What happened? What did you have to do along the way to get to where you wanted to go? This is where the rubber meets the road. In order to create the vision and the feelings you generated in December 2020, you have to take action throughout the year. What actions did you take? Write them down, and have some fun with this. Make it a fun game that you’re much more likely to then play.

To your success!


P.S. Proper planning is everything. Maybe there are more opportunities for you than you realize. You might consider a Media Strategy session in 2020. You can learn more here.

#Timeline | #walkingyourtimeline | #december | #bookpublicity | #bookmarketing

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