Looking back to look forward

By Michelle Dalley

Happy New Year and welcome to 2020!  I hope your Christmas and New Year was regenerating and you’re feeling ready to kick off the start of the year.

For me the start of the year is when I like to reflect on the previous year.  I find it’s when I have more space as the end of the year is normally full of Christmas and socialising activity.  As I reflect on 2019 it was certainly a year of two halves for me.  At the start of the year I was part-way through taking a break from work to support a close family member who was going through serious addiction issues.  Her addiction had challenged us as a family all through 2018 and at the end of that year she came to live with my husband and I, whilst going through her rehabilitation. I’m pleased to report she’s now been drug free for a year – a huge relief and a huge achievement on her part.  Through this experience I’ve been so grateful for my skills in coaching, communication and resilience – as you can imagine, they were all needed to support myself and my family through this challenge.

Like all challenges there was opportunity to learn and grow and throughout that time there were several points where I needed to stop and consider what was really important to me. It was through this reflection process that I’ve become clearer on the type of work I want to focus on and the balance that I want to create in my life.   It has required setting boundaries, having some tough conversations, making decisions that I’d been avoiding and also asserting myself and taking care of my needs.  So, the second half of 2019 had me bring a renewed focus to my business and also my own self-care.  To continue implementing these changes that I’ve started, my chosen theme for 2020 is “focus and consistency”.  Do you have a theme that you’re working with or perhaps you prefer goals?

Why reflection is so powerful

Without taking the time to consciously pause and reflect, I wouldn’t have been able to gain the clarity that I have.  Reflection is so important for us as human beings.  Reflection helps us to cultivate a growth mindset, build our learning agility and helps us to be resilient – all of which leads to living a more satisfying and meaningful life.  Yet creating time for reflection is often challenging and not prioritised.  Why is that?  Well, reflection time can feel like “non-productive” time – and in this world we live in today productivity and rushing from one task to the next seems to be highly valued.  Yet, action without reflection, awareness and intention is a recipe for focussing on the wrong things and getting more of what we’ve always got.  Another challenge with reflection time is that it’s not always comfortable!  We might need to admit some things to ourselves that we’ve been avoiding or consider some questions that we don’t immediately have the answers to.  This is why we need to approach reflection with a particular mindset.


Reflection time requires a learning mindset.  We need to approach it with curiosity and self-compassion – this is a “no beat-up” zone.  Bring your objective self or your “inner coach” to this process and leave the inner critic at the door.

Be willing to accept what has been and take the learnings from it – you can’t change what has already happened, only what you can do moving forward.  So, be open to explore possibilities and what could be.

To help us be in this mindset we need to create space and time to reflect and to feel grounded inside of ourselves.  Before reflecting I like to do a couple of minutes of diaphragmatic breathing and then connect with what I’m grateful for.  This helps me to feel centered and at ease in myself.  What helps you to feel grounded?

It can also be useful to have a break and come back to reflecting at another time.  During the break your mind will still be considering questions in the background and will be making new connections.  Sometimes, it can also help to talk things through with others.  However, choose this person wisely, as you don’t want to get swept up in their perspective of what they think you should be doing.

Reflection questions

There are many fantastic questions you could ask yourself as you reflect.  As we’re at the beginning of a new year here’s a selection of questions to get you started in your reflection of 2019:

  • What experiences have I loved/enjoyed the most?
  • What am I most proud of and why?
  • What have I found challenging? How did I react/respond to those challenges?
  • In what ways have I grown/what have I learnt?
  • What would I like to have spent more time doing and why?
  • What needs to happen personally, professionally and financially in 2020 to make it the best year EVER? (this question was offered to me recently by one of my coaches).

Creating the time and space to reflect, create clarity and set intention is the beginning of setting yourself up for success, but it’s a crucial first step that shouldn’t be overlooked.  I recommend reflecting in this way at least quarterly – this gives you time to adjust throughout the year.

Next steps

If you haven’t already, book some time in with yourself and create the space to do some worthwhile reflection time.

I’ll be sharing more information about cultivating a growth mindset and building habits – crucial to fulfilling on your goals and outcomes – on our Facebook page.  If you haven’t joined/liked the page yet, here’s the link.

I’m officially back coaching from the 8th January, so if you’re wanting to kick your year off with intention and focus, get in touch to book a coaching session: michelle@ignitegroup.co.nz

Want to know more? Book a chat with me today!