How do you take stock of your year?

Maybe I know a lot of keeners, getting a head start on their New Year’s Resolutions? For whatever reason, I seem to be having quite a few conversations lately where we’re talking about how far we’ve gotten in the past year.

Some of these are formal, reviewing an organization’s progress against its strategic plan.

Others are a lot more ad hoc – just individuals thinking about how they lived their lives in 2014 and what that means going into the next year. (Those conversations get a lot more interesting after a glass of mulled wine, to be sure.)

There are a few traps we can fall into in having these conversations:

  • We can be too polite. Sometimes we just want to give the E for effort and say “good job!” That can cause us to avoid hard conversations.
  • We can be too hard on ourselves. In some situations, avoiding calamity is a miracle unto itself, but we beat ourselves up for not achieving something more. In others, perfect isn’t good enough for us.
  • We move the goalposts. So often, we are measuring backwards in a completely different method from the way we began the year.

And one big one that seems to keep coming up is that we don’t talk about why we were successful. If something goes wrong, there’s often a big post-mortem (if you don’t do a formal one, trust me, there’s an informal one going on somewhere in your organization). But if things go right, do you discuss that? Do you talk about the role of timing and luck in your success? Do you try to understand what parts of it might be replicable, vs. what parts were really lightning in a bottle?

Do you take enough time to celebrate success?

So how can we set ourselves up for more success in 2015? What are some ways we can have a better chance of having a productive, interesting, thought-provoking conversation this time next year? How can we set up our organizations to get better at moving forward in meeting our goals?

Here are some questions (and ideas) that might help:

If you’d like to discuss how we can help you set or meet your organizational goals in 2015 and beyond, please get in touch.

Photo by flickr user Scott Ackerman, used via Creative Commons license. 

Contact us at or call 416-737-3935 to discuss how we might be able to help.


We offer resources to help leaders of associations and other not-for-profits think about their approach to strategy and governance, from various perspectives.