“What is done cannot be undone, but one can prevent it happening again.” – Anne Frank
As we approach the end of another year, we all have a tendency to look forward. And that’s a positive. It’s a good thing for us to be excited about the future, or to be thinking about what we can accomplish in the new year.
Before you take the final leap into 2022, though, make sure to take one last glance over your shoulder at 2021, and not for the reasons we normally do. Typically, when we look back at the past, we spend time regretting things we did or didn’t do, complaining about things that happened or people that irritated us, or just generally using up energy on stuff we can’t change. Then we tell ourselves to forget about it and move on.
The “move on” part is a good idea, but not necessarily the forgetting. We need to try & learn everything we can from whatever we experience all year long. If something happened that wasn’t what we wanted, why did that happen? What was really the root cause? How can we keep that thing, or something similar, from happening again? Rather than just feeling bad and then putting it out of our minds, let’s gain something from it.
By extension, we need to gain from our successes as well. Sometimes we celebrate that something good happened without taking time to think about why something good happened. Is it something repeatable? If we took – or didn’t take – some action, and it turned out positive, should we take that action again? Maybe not, but we need to at least consider that.
This all may sound pretty elementary. The reality, though, is that leaders are so busy with today that they don’t spend much time thinking about tomorrow, and they spend even less time thinking about yesterday. The result tends to be too many years that all start to look alike.
Don’t dwell negatively on the past, but make sure that as we say goodbye to 2021 that you’ve learned the lessons that are there to be learned. What parts of it do we want to repeat? What parts of it can we make sure don’t happen again? The answers to those simple questions can change 2022’s outcomes significantly. Make time to find those answers.