How do you typically wrap up your year? For many, it’s hurriedly during the holiday frenzy, with little thought toward celebrating the many career wins and personal accomplishments that were hard won. Why is this important?

The Business Case for Celebration

Celebration is an important opportunity to explore the lessons learned on the path to achievement and the effort it took to get there. The act of reflecting on the past year expands your perspective.

Imagine climbing to the top of the mountain. At the summit, you can look down and see the path you traveled—the steep places and the rocky parts are re-experienced as you recount the resources you summoned to overcome challenges.

Likely, it was not all glory moments. In fact, some goals were left unmet, and there may be some unfinished business to address, providing important information for planning your upcoming year.

The point here is to acknowledge yourself for what you did accomplish, appreciate your growing resilience, and embrace your imperfect self as more than a “doing” machine. If you don’t, you may fall prey to the never-ending cycle of doing more and more, with little payoff.

The “Move On” Mentality

Many high achieving leaders have a vague sense of loss at year end, no matter how many goals they achieved! If you can relate, you may be one of those leaders stuck in a perfectionistic (not so) merry-go-round. Such high achievers have a tendency to focus only on what didn’t get done. As goals are met, they move on to the next big thing without regard for themselves or their hard-working teams.

These same leaders often have a low tolerance for exploring their inner world, through reflection, journaling, and vulnerable sharing with others. I have seen leaders throw up resistance in the process of their coaching, and as we explore it, they discover it’s a fear of facing their imperfections.

For many, their greatest and hidden nightmare is not being good enough, smart enough, or talented enough. It’s no wonder they would rather move on than engage in self-reflection. Who wants to sit in the misery of experiencing yourself as a failure? Of course, there’s a vast difference between falling short in reaching some goals and being a failure!

The antidote to this all-or-nothing thinking is to conduct a balanced and blameless inventory, and thereby gaining access to the whole picture. Would that be more empowering for your soul?

Move Forward by Being Still

So rather than getting drawn into the season’s flurry of activity and succumbing to the pervasive “on-to-the-next-thing” mindset, try investing 30 minutes before the end of the year.

One way to do that is an e-book I wrote called Life As Art. This e-book starts with an end-of-year review that you can move through in less time than it takes to wrap a few gifts! It’s my gift to you—unwrap this short reflection and give yourself a quiet time that will pay dividends later. Give it a try!

Download the Reflection

Evening By The Fire

I personally have enjoyed doing this reflection each year during that magical week during the last week of December. That’s when I really felt like I was “off” from work—emails slow down and no one’s really working, even if they’re required to show up at the office! After the big holiday dinners are over, and I always have a few days to just chill out, there would be a cold wintry evening, sitting in front of the fire alone and maybe enjoying a glass of brandy.

I relish this time and consider this an important holiday self-care ritual that impacts my entire year. I anticipate the space to make sense of my year before saying good-bye to Christmas and plunging into next year’s goals and challenges.

I experience a sense of relief, pride, and joy with this brief pause, and it opens up space for the next leg of the journey!

Reflection Is the Precursor to Creativity

All new things start in our mind and heart. Reflection provides cleansing to our mind and healing to our heart. A mindful process clarifies issues and helps emerging ideas percolate and develop into more clear directions. To prime the creative pump, it takes getting still. Some call this “white space.”

Much recent research has been conducted on the benefits leaders gain by cultivating the art of reflection. Here are a few good authors and resources to support this theory.

Recipe for a Happier Life

Dan Sullivan, in his book The Gap and The Gain, warns leaders about the “gap” mindset. He says it’s the difference between happy, satisfied successful leaders, and miserable, unhealthy but successful leaders. These two types of leaders are both successful in terms of objective external results. Those in the “gap” mindset ignore goals as soon as they are achieved and look to the next ideal achievement. However, the more contented and happier group take time to look at their gains—how they have grown and what they have achieved in the past year.

So, which world do you want to live in? The Gap or the Gain?

Experience As a Teacher

I have been an executive coach for over 30 years. I am in the business of guiding leaders to optimize their talents, achieve their goals, build dynamic cultures, and—on a personal level—live satisfying, healthy lives that make a positive impact on their families and in the world.

My clients have found the Life As Art e-book a useful tool to explore and clarify essential elements for creating their future. When inevitable storms arise, this method can help you regain a wider perspective and sustain proactive positivity in all circumstances!

I hope you will go through the process of reflection this holiday season and use the rest of the Life As Art e-book to envision your long-term future and set goals for 2023.

Download Life As Art

My wish for you is to maximize your talents and live a more richly rewarding life each year! Our world needs your unique contribution.

Wishing you a glorious end of year celebration and a Happy New Year!


Elaine Morris
Executive coach and positive intelligence expert

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Elaine Morris is a master-level emotional intelligence and executive coach who brings more than 30 years of experience to upper level executives and their teams.

Elaine Morris