Look back and look forward to 2021

Author John Maxwell says, “Experience isn’t the best teacher, evaluated experience is.”

Let’s use this month to evaluate the past year and plan for the new year. Last December I did exactly that. I reviewed all that I did in 2019 and made big visionary plans for 2020.

Even though two months into 2020 all plans were rearranged, I do not recommend changing this end-of-year routine. Grab a pen and journal. Let’s review and preview together.


For starters, open your calendar to January 2020. You might have a daily journal or wall calendar or Google calendar. It does not matter which tool you prefer. They all have the same purpose — logging your daily activities.

Take your time and review your 2020 calendar, day by day. Reminisce all that you did. In your journal, track the highlights of 2020. List your celebrations and positive changes that you made throughout the year. I am always amazed at all that I forgot already within the past year. By journaling your thoughts, you will start to observe your growth and gaps.

Next, we need to review our numbers. Include your income, expenses, number of activities, number of vacations or number of books you read. Anything that can be counted now will be tallied, totaled and analyzed. Add these numbers to your journal or create a dynamic spreadsheet, complete with formulas and pivot tables.


Once you have recapped the year and have the data organized you can make an educated decision on what you want to focus on next year. This also is the time to allow your mind to dream. What goals would you love to achieve?

Some people choose to create a New Year’s resolution. However, less than 8% of these resolutions are kept. Instead of creating a lofty goal to begin New Year’s day, consider selecting a word for your year.

This idea is adapted from the book “One Word That Will Change Your Life” by Jon Gordon, Dan Britton and Jimmy Page. This word will be your focus throughout the next year.

My word in 2020 is “Action.” Last December when I chose this word, I noticed that I was creating small wins for myself based on my consistent actions.

For example: I noticed that my back was feeling great. (Normally, I experience backaches and headaches frequently.) What do I attribute it to? During my workouts, I was working on my core, not just cardio.

Another example: I was making headway reading a very large book (1,545 pages of extremely small print!). I created a new system in the mornings. At 8:10 a.m. I enjoy my tea in my reading room, and I read two pages in the book. That’s all. Little actions make big differences. With focus, what other actions should I consider to move me closer to my goals?

Every year I receive an unexpected lesson related to my word. In the first quarter, I focused on figuring out the right actions to do. In April, I was encouraged not to focus on figuring out the “right actions.” Just do action. Something will stick.

There are so many more opportunities in front of me now that I have given myself permission to try, fail and redo. Action is better than perfection.

Along with choosing a word for the next year, create a Personal Development Plan. List your goals and dreams related to different categories of your life: Educational, personal, emotional, spiritual, physical and financial. Some of these goals are objective numbers that can be tracked (like how many vacations you do not want to cancel next year). Reflect on those numbers that you tallied during the Review step above.

It is important to give yourself time to complete this evaluation and planning process. Also, consider how to keep this plan in front of yourself every day or you will quickly forget about these growth goals. I choose to complete this project during four weeks. Do not rush your growth.

If this challenge feels overwhelming, then consider walking with me on this journey this year. Join the Review/Preview podcast series Dec. 12, 2020 — Jan. 2, 2021. “Thinking Differently with Kathie Rotz” podcast can be found on any major podcast platform or here: anchor.fm/kathie-rotz. I look forward to growing with you as we bring in the new year.