Reflecting on a year gone by

A year is drawing to an end. There are only a few doors left on the advent calendar and, whether through the stress of preparation or excitement we are counting down the days to Christmas. And then the last fleeting days of the year.

But before we dream, plan and pledge our resolutions for the New Year, we must remember to look back and reflect on the year that has passed and take stock.

“Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” – James Levin

A year is a great expanse of time, but when it’s nearing its end, it may seem to have passed incredibly quickly. Nevertheless, when you start adding up the changes in your community, events at work, in your social circle and your family, you might just find that it has indeed been an eventful year.

But we are masters at adaptation, and the more subtle changes in ourselves – the way we think and act, our opinions, expectations, confidence and general outlook on life – is generally a lot harder to put a finger on. And yet, it is the mindfulness in how we ourselves change and react to such changes which can reveal the most valuable insights.

“It is not sufficient simply to have an experience in order to learn. Without reflecting upon this experience it may quickly be forgotten, or its learning potential lost. It is from the feelings and thoughts emerging from this reflection that generalisations or concepts can be generated. And it is generalisations that allow new situations to be tackled effectively”.

– Gibbs, G., Learning by Doing. (1988)

As learning professionals it is time to “eat our own dog food” (or “walk the talk” – for those of a little grossed out by this term).

As the last chat2lrn of the 2012, we’ll reflect on our experiences, what we have lost, how we have grown, what we have gained, learned and accomplished. We’re in search of new insights, revised views and the hazy outlines of new concepts, which might help not just what happened in 2012 – but also 2013 and beyond.

Below are some questions and sources of inspiration to get you started on your own reflection.


  • Is there a particular situation you handled particularly well this year?
  • What praise or critisism were you most proud of, or most surprised by?
  • What situations or projects challenged you the most this year?
  • Did you achieve your plan? Or did your goals change?

When you have a particular event in mind, analyse your own experience of what you did and how you did it.

  • How did you prioritise – and what impact did these choices have?
  • What, if anything, stopped you from doing your best at the time?
  • If you were given the option to change anything now, what would it be?
  • How did the result compare to your research and/or expectations?
  • What might be the results of doing things differently?
  • How has the experience changed your understanding?


3 things I learned while my plane crashed,  by Ric Elias
A TED-talk to your perspective on what is important and what is not.

“I regretted the time I wasted on things that did not matter with people that [do] matter.”

“I no longer try to be right; I choose to be happy.”


Share your learning curve, by Joris Luyendijk
– an inspiring Tedx-talk on the sharing and reflection process iself.

“Every time you are surprised about something. That is when you learn. So keep a notebook and record you light-bulb moments. Put it on the web and invite others to reflect on these moments and of your raw material. Reflect yourself, on their reflections.”

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