Counting down these final days till the New Year is synonymous with reflection. As we bid 2017 goodbye and set our sights on the year ahead, our focus tends to be on what we've done, goals we've accomplished, and challenges we've overcome.
While these are all good things to think about, I challenge you to dig a little deeper. What about asking what you didn't do, how you felt, or who you should thank? Not every measure of success is based off an Excel spreadsheet. Numbers are important, but they don't quantify your impact, both personally or professionally.
More importantly, don't forget to make their your own health and happiness a priority. So before you start clinking those champagne glasses, ask yourself these five questions to ensure your 2018 is the best year yet.
1. Who should be acknowledged?
While I'm sure it was never your intention to skip a 'thank you', delivering praise to those who have stepped up over the past year can escape even the most attentive leaders.
Which department is excelling? Who has planned the company holiday party? From the receptionist to the top executive, make a list of people who deserve a heartfelt, sincere thank you.
Whenever you can, show your appreciation in person, otherwise opt for a hand-written note. Making your team feel acknowledged and valued will set everyone off on the right foot come 2018.
2. What are my regrets?
Some argue that you should never have any regrets in life. The experiences you've been through, both good and bad, have brought you to this moment. Sure, there's some truth to this, but we all have those moments we'd like to forget...forever.
Maybe it was when you accidentally sent a personal email to the entire staff, forgot the name of a very important client, or didn't reach out to that prospective client you've had on your to-do list.
We all have regrets, so go ahead and make your list. Reflect, learn, laugh, move forward.
3. How well did I sleep?
Surviving on four hours of sleep does not make you a hard worker. It makes you a zombie. It also makes you exhausted and unable to lead from a place of clarity and control.
If you can't remember the last time you had more than six hours of sleep, it's time to ask what's keeping you up at night. When the cause is always work-related, it's time to reassess your current work-life imbalance.
4. Did I take time for myself?
Self-care tends to fall far down the list of leadership priorities. And if you're one of the many who has made no time for down time, it's time to step into 2018 with a new perspective.
Commuting in traffic or waiting for the elevator do not count as moments to yourself. Make time for yourself much like you do for a client, and spend it doing something that's completely separate from work.
This can include going for a run, meditating, or reading a new book; whatever it is, make sure your phone is turned off and you're free from distractions.
5. How have I made a difference?
Donating money may seem like you're doing enough to give back, but writing a check doesn't make you feel nearly as fulfilled as when you give back your time. And while I know we're all tight on how many hours there are in the day, there are many ways you can make a difference that won't impact your already jam-packed schedule.
How about creating a mentorship program, matching current members of your team with at-risk youth? Volunteering has been proven to boost employee morale, surging new energy into the company culture.
Another idea is to throw a sports day fundraiser, bringing together your offices or other companies you align with. The winning team could donate the funds to their charity of choice, while simultaneously team building and encouraging camaraderie.
The key is to pick an initiative you're passionate about, so it's less about looking good, and more about doing good.