Wisdom in your Teens and 20s Comes From Looking Backward and Forward
As a career coach, I am always focused on helping my clients move forward by taking clearly defined actions. That might look like choosing a college major, updating a resume to start the internship search, or coming up with the key bullets to answer the Tell Me About Yourself interview question. I am a big fan of identifying actionable ideas, building momentum and maintaining forward trajectory. They are the keys to success. But it can be valuable to spend some time looking backward as well. The end of the calendar year has that natural “winding-down” feeling to it, making this a particularly nice time to engage in some self-reflection. This doesn’t have to be as sentimental and arduous as it may sound.
There are several self-reflection prompts below. I recommend sitting down answer these with a journal and a nice cup of coffee or tea. You can answer the prompts as they relate specifically to school or career, or use them as a general tool for assessing how you’re doing overall. Take your time, and remember: this isn’t a graded assignment, it’s purely for your benefit.
- List three things I remember giving me great joy, a sense of awe, a sense of well-being, a packet of positive feelings.
- List three things I will do this upcoming semester/year to experience similar positive feelings.
- List three things that felt bad, rotten, a waste of time, miserable, unhealthy.
- Listen to this short and interesting Ted Talk on breaking bad habits using curiosity.
- List three new muscles/skills I’d like to develop this semester/year. (Make these as specific as possible. For example, Advanced PowerPoint, Constant Contact, Trello. Or a 5 minute speech at Toastmasters. Maybe how to create a high quality Linkedin profile and how to use it effectively in a job or internship search.
- How many hours do I think it will take to gain these new muscles? Write an estimate down next to each muscle goal above. What are my first steps?
- What are 3-5 things I’m grateful for as the year winds down?
I did a little of this personally also, so in case you need a little inspiration here’s what I came up with:
Jo’s Year-End Self Reflection
List three things I remember giving me great joy, a sense of awe, a sense of well-being, a packet of positive feelings:
- Watching Bohemian Rhapsody, specifically the Live Aid performance of Freddie Mercury, played brilliantly by Rami Malek.
- Taking photographs during a wine tour in Languedoc France and at Gaudi’s Gueil Museum in Barcelona.
- Practicing yoga under a full moon in Miami, Florida.
List three things I will do this upcoming semester/year to experience similar positive feelings:
- Join a choral group and attend more opera and live classical and rock concerts.
- Run three 5K races.
- Do a handstand.
List three things that felt bad, rotten, a waste of time, miserable, unhealthy.
- Hanging out with negative people.
- Eating unhealthy food.
- Checking email every 20 minutes.
Listen to this short and interesting Ted Talk on breaking bad habits using curiosity. Check.
List three new muscles/skills I’d like to develop this semester/year.
- Advanced French conversation – 75 hours
- Take a class in iPhone photography – 20 hours
- Baking – 20 hours
How many hours do I think it will take to gain these new muscles? Write that down next to each muscle goal. Check.
What are my first steps?
- Sign up for classes in French and iPhone photography.
- Buy ingredients and find a recipe for a simple cake.
What are 3-5 things I’m grateful for as the year winds down?
- Two friends in particular who are unconditional in their support and friendship.
- The trust parents put in me to work with their kids.
- Jodi Picoult’s book, “Small Great Things.”
Wishing you all a wonderful holiday season. May your friends and family be close, your spirit be full of love and kindness, and your actions full of wisdom!
Jo Leonard (with Melvin the cat!)