_what to do with what you've done

So, welcome to the new year. How are you doing? Fancy taking a moment to draw breath and gather good strength for the year ahead?

Standing at a turning new year, I can't help but get a little reflective – come on, you know me well enough by now! Walking around on sunny (yes, really) English beaches over the winter break and enjoying the big views, I felt really grateful for a year of hard work and great achievements. I also felt strongly that I didn't want to waste those accomplishments, but build on them as we push ahead into the coming months with new ideas.

I think lots of us forget, when setting new plans in motion, to really appreciate the foundations we've worked hard to build. I think that's one reason why lots of resolutions don't stick, because we throw baby out with bathwater and assume new plans are all about starting from scratch.

Instead, let's ask, "What's really helpful about what's already happened?"

Translating big dreams into tangible goals can feel unwieldy, so, I thought I'd share a useful help with you by way of this simple exercise. Based on David Kolb's experiential learning theory, I came across this 'reflective cycle' in my post-grad studies and have often found it helpful since. Even if not writing things out explicitly, doing this exercise a number of times can form a habit of mind, and now I naturally find better motivation to get on and act, reflect, imagine, plot, see great things happen, and keep moving – act, reflect on that action, imagine how it could be improved, and practically plan your next move.

The picture above is postcard-quality size – feel free to print it off and stick it somewhere helpful so you can easily refer to the stages:

Write down:

1: WHAT? What act did you do? What experience was it? Just describe facts.

2: SO WHAT? Reflect on what you learnt, or discovered. 

3: WHAT NOW? What could you do to build on this, and improve that action next time?

4: & HOW? Given this revelation, make some practical plans for your next 'WHAT' experience.

If this is your year to explore new ways of communicating and using good design to get your message across, this reflective cycle could prove really helpful in keeping track as you try things out and refine your visual language. If someone else is helping you with that, I think this could be a good way to practically reflect on stuff that often seems difficult to get a handle on.

I hope you have a really great year with some brave moves, rich experiences, and cracking results – a really happy new year folks!