Every December I get a chance to review the year. Not just because the year is ending--my birthday is December 22nd and the older I get, the more behavior and actions I have the time to analyze.

Like most entrepreneurs, I have had plenty of ups and downs. Most often, if not always, the failings have been my fault. But that doesn't mean I must beat myself up over them. In fact, a retrospective look often warrants more learning than punishment. Here are the steps I use to keep looking forward with hope and positivity.

1. Don't take everything so seriously.

Of course life is serious. People matter. Money is important to live. No one wants others to suffer. But at the same time there is little difficulty in life that can't be somehow met with a smile or humor. I have people in my life who are battling cancer and they are some of the brightest lights in the room. They are the first to joke about their situation. When I went through troubled financial times in 2008 it was my faith that allowed me to rise again, but my sense of humor that gave me the ability to weather the storm. Find the joy, love and humor in every moment.

2. Use the mind for thinking, not feeling.

I have been inspired recently by author and philosopher Dr. Kapil Gupta, who teaches that freeing yourself of the mind can result in bliss and enlightenment. It is your mind and not your heart that causes you stress, worry and disappointment. I use my mind for learning and creating. However, I prefer to quiet my mind and open my heart when engaging with the world. Forgo useless knowledge. Instead ask the questions that will give you true understanding.

3. Connect deeply with a few.

I know people who know lots of people. Many gain strength from large families, communities and Facebook followings. But shallow connection goes away quickly. I recently committed to a new group of accountability partners. I have known each of the people in this group between 15 and 30 years. And still I am excited about learning more about each one. Find those people worthy of a deep dive and make the most of your experiences together.

4. Be your only judge.

No one else matters. I know it seems like everyone is assessing you. Perhaps it's your clients, supervisors, family, or friends. Their assessment is for their benefit, not yours. You need to be successful in your own eyes. Then find the environment that appreciates who you are and what you can do.

5. Look for the learning in everything.

No success or failure comes without lessons to be learned. Often the lessons are more easily found in the failures, which ironically is where regrets often materialize. Once you take more joy in the learning than the accomplishment, you soon learn there is nothing you cannot overcome and regret is unjustified.