This time of year it’s easy to fall into the New Year Resolution trap for your business.

Does this sound familiar?

You start out with “this year will be different, I’ll get the planning & preparation done and I’ll follow through on my commitments!” However, come the end of January your best intentions are a little pile of ashes blown away in the whirlwind of your daily actions.

How do you make it different, effective and sustainable this year?

Try  this.

First, review the data and the facts of what has happened over the last 12 months. Be clear that’s what it is, it’s an analysis of the information you have, it is not a judgement.

The review is to look at the evidence, discern patterns and recognise the insights they give you. Whatever the evidence is telling you, good, bad or indifferent simply accept it.

That’s so important , so do it again, look at what the evidence tells you and accept it.

Now the second part. Reflect on what this means to you, your business and how you feel about it.

If review is the dispassionate analysis of the evidence then reflection is about the meaning and emotion that you choose to associate with what you’ve learnt. If it’s been a great year your reaction is likely to feel good, proud & energized to do more of the same. A poor year may make you feel downhearted, disillusioned and believe nothing works properly. These are straightforward connections and reactions you can easily make.

However, what about the good year that wasn’t as good as you hoped? Does that make you feel disillusioned and downhearted? Did you ignore the poor year because it ‘wasn’t your fault, it was out of your control, it’ll be fine when things get back to normal.”?

That’s the key to reflection, you could have 4 people look at the same data and have at least 4 different reactions depending on their beliefs, expectations and the meanings they associate with the information.

The question to be reflecting upon is ‘Is your reaction helping and will it get you the outcome you want?’ because reactions often don’t serve you well.

So if your experience tells you reactions usually work against you, it’s time for your response. The one that’s going to get you the better outcome that you want.

In his book ‘A Path through the Jungle’ Professor Steve Peters describes responding to situations as acceptance and then planning. Using the models he created in a previous work ‘The Chimp Paradox’ he outlines how it’s perfectly normal to experience that initial, powerful emotional reaction. In ‘A Path through the Jungle’ he also suggests a NEAT way of dealing with it. Where N is for Normal, E is Expect, A is Accept and T stands for Take Care of it.

How does review, reflect, respond help you move forward this year?

Reviewing the hard information gives you the baseline and insights to ask better questions of yourself about the year. Reflecting on your normal emotional reaction, and accepting it’s part of you, let’s you work out whether reacting is going to help or hinder the next decisions you make and the outcome you get.

With reflection you can now choose your response, by dealing with the realities of the situation and preparing and planning your next steps.

Using review, reflect and respond will make your next year more effective and sustainable.

Because the truth is this isn’t a process to be used once a year,  it’s something you can use on an hourly, daily, weekly and monthly basis to keep you moving forward.