While playing golf last May I was struck by the beauty of a hole I had just completed.  I posted the picture on Facebook with the comment, “Some say you should never look back, but if you don’t you might miss a nice view.”  I think the same thing can be said as we look to 2018.  Many will create “resolutions” they will seek to keep over the next year.  At the same time it is important that we look back and consider what we learned in 2017.  Perhaps the best way to plot a course for the future is to consider our past accomplishments and failures.  What?  You say you didn’t have any failures?  Then here’s your resolution, “Take more risks in 2018!

From a broad perspective there were a number of positives associated with 2017:

• A Bull Market (Dow Jones YTD Performance is +25%)

• Positive Economic Trends in areas including, but not limited to:

Real Personal Consumption Expenditures

Industrial Production (Manufacturing)

Real Disposable Personal Income

Existing Home Sales

• Gains in medical research to support efforts to combat Cancer, Alzheimer’s, ALS, and other debilitating diseases.

However the reality is this, as most of us look back at 2017, the positives are not the first thing to come to mind. Tanveer Naseer considers this challenge in his post, “What Will You Do To Make Next Year Better”.  He writes, “There is little doubt that this year will not go down in our collective human history as being one of our finest moments in time.”  He sites a number of examples including:

• A rise in hate toward various racial, ethnic and minority groups

• A growing fear of the potential of nuclear war

• The ubiquitous presence of sexual harassment in the workplace

He then issues a challenge.  “We have a choice of letting change simply happen to us, or to adapt and learn from it to be stronger going forward.”  He ends the post by encouraging us to look back and learn from our setbacks and faults and use them to make things better and live up to the awe and potential that is with our grasp.  Sounds like a great challenge to embrace.

“If life is a journey, the questions we ask ourselves are the fuel that gets us from here to there.”  So begins Robin Camarote’s Inc.com post, “31 Questions to ask Yourself Before Setting Next Year’s Goals”. Camarote provides 31 questions to consider (ideally one for each day of December) prior to establishing personal goals or direction for 2018.  Ideally these questions will get you thinking about that for which you are grateful, that which you want to change, and equally important, what effort will be needed to propel you forward.  A sampling of the questions follows:

• What are the first thoughts that come to mind when you reflect on the past year.  Are these mostly positive, negative or neutral?

• What was one of the most interesting things I learned this year?  (I’d also ask you to add, “and what were the conditions under which I learned it?)

• What was my greatest accomplishment?  Why?

• What was one of my most challenging moments?  Why?

I’m certain you will enjoy the article. 

Remember, there is no magic date by which resolutions/goals for a new year must be established.  You own the past, now plan for the future.  Take your time to reflect on what you have learned and experienced over the past year.  Let  your reflections guide your selection of the goals you will establish for yourself, as this will make it much more of a personal and meaningful experience.  Through this process your resolutions take on greater meaning because they are rooted in your past.

Embrace the Challenge my friends and have a Happy New Year!