Looking Back to Look Ahead

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“Self-reflection is the school of wisdom.”
– Baltasar Gracian

Chances are you’ve heard about the 70-20-10 rule. The rule states that 70% of our learning comes from experience, 20% though exposure to others, and 10% from education. As a training professional, I generally agree. However, there is one critical component missing from this equation and it’s self-reflection.

In working with managers and employees on the “art” of career conversations, I often encourage them to ask one simple question after each new experience.

“What did you learn from that?”

The question automatically prompts self-reflection where true learning can take root.

As 2016 nears to a close, it’s the perfect time to contemplate, look back and reflect on what you’ve accomplished … your biggest triumphs (and even failures) and what you’ve learned as a result.

Here are 15 questions designed to get you looking back so you can start looking forward to 2017. Consider them on your own or start a conversation at work with your colleagues or even at home with your family.

  1. What was your biggest triumph in 2016?
  2. What was your biggest mistake in 2016?
  3. What was the smartest decision you made in 2016?
  4. What one word best sums up and describes your 2016 experience?
  5. What was the greatest lesson you learned in 2016?
  6. What was the most loving service you performed in 2016?
  7. What are you most happy about completing in 2016?
  8. Who were three people who had the greatest impact on your life in 2016?
  9. What is the biggest risk you took in 2016?
  10. What was the biggest surprise in 2016?
  11. What important relationship improved the most in 2016?
  12. What compliment would you like to have received in 2016?
  13. What compliment would you like to have given in 2016?
  14. What new talent did you develop in 2016?
  15. What else do you need to do or say to be complete with 2016?


Celebrate what you’ve learned ready to start a new year filled with promise, potential and opportunity. It’s a gift you can give yourself this holiday season and one that will keep on giving well into the New Year!

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