Here we are again at the end of another year; already! In looking back, the many events, good and bad, seem to merge together into one blurred fast-forwarded highlights clip.
With a few exceptions, most of this year’s experiences are filed neatly into the simple chapters of work, family, projects and fun, not necessarily in that order. Some things, however, do stand out above the others. Hopefully, it’s because they were positive times that we hope to remember for a long time. Our oldest son’s wedding is a favorite memory of mine from this year.
Unfortunately, as is the case with life, there are also the times that weigh heavy on our hearts. Lost family members, friends and beloved pets often seem to be part of that side of the ledger. We don’t want to forget those either but we try to find ways to recall them with less pain and concentrate on the good memories as time passes.
Either way, now is a good time to look back and take stock of all the lessons we learned this year, whether from wins or losses. Often, these things pass quickly and we don’t take the time to evaluate the chain of events and we focus on moving on instead of reflection.
Here are a few questions you might want to use to evaluate how you handled your challenges this year.
- Was this something you anticipated and, if so, did you have at least the outline of a plan for dealing with it? If not, do you now?
- If your response to an emergency required tools, gear or supplies, did you have what you needed and was your gear up to the task?
- If you had/have to replace materiel, will you do so with the same items or something different?
- If you had to endure the event with others, was everyone on the same page and focused on the same goals?
- Can those relationships be improved for better outcomes in the future? How?
- Have you had follow-up conversations with the others to recognize the positive and negative responses to the event as a group?
- What things popped up that were unexpected, and how did you respond to them?
- Do you feel better or worse about your planning and/or execution than you expected? Why?
- Did you have to ask for help to get through the event? Did you? If not, why not?
- Did you have to endure notable hardships during or as a result of the event? Did you handle them as well as you expected?
- Are you still feeling the effects of the event? Could you have done anything to reduce this impact?
- If youngsters or seniors were part of this event, how would you characterize its impact on them?
If you go through this exercise, answer honestly to get the greatest benefit from it. Don’t expect to come away with zero negative results, because it’s impossible to plan for and execute against every potential threat.
While you’re right to celebrate your successes, don’t fixate on and beat yourself up over the areas where you need improvement. You are stronger and more prepared for having endured those things and, assuming you learned from them, you’ll be more prepared in the future as a result.
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We hope 2019 was a good year for you and wish you and yours a very happy and healthy 2020!
Editor’s note: A version of this article first appeared in the December, 2019 print issue of American Survival Guide.