As I typically do at the end of every year, I spent some time early this morning thinking about 2022, lessons I learned and considering what I plan to focus on in 2023. I reflected on a broad range of experiences, encounters and conversations I participated in through my various roles as a husband, father, author, neighbor, man of faith and business professional. After the second cup of coffee, it struck me during my reflection exercise that the word impact seemed to be the connecting thread for all my most memorable experiences and best described how I want to spend my time after January 1st as we kick off a brand-new year. Why impact?
I thought about the various people in all areas of my life I had the privilege of coaching, mentoring or helping in some way this past year. I also reflected, with considerable regret, on the opportunities I missed to add value and make a positive difference in the lives of others. I thought of the amazing people who have had a positive impact on me in 2022 and the genuine gratitude I feel for all of them. This thinking developed into a simple and helpful four-question exercise that took me about 45 minutes to complete and I would like to share it with you:
- Reflect on who you positively impacted this year. List the specific people and a few notes about the experiences as best you can remember. How did you help them? What was the short and long-term impact of the investment you made in them? In retrospect, would you do anything differently? Is any follow up needed to further the impact you made?
- Reflect on missed opportunities to make an impact on others. Consider the opportunities with work colleagues, family or friends to make a positive impact that you may have missed in 2022. Write down what you might do differently if you had another opportunity. Reflect on what may have prevented you from making an investment of your time. What happened? What were the obstacles or barriers that got in the way? This question is not meant to make us feel guilty, but instead heighten awareness about better recognizing opportunities to help others.
- Who positively impacted you in 2022? Make a list of who made a meaningful difference in your life over the past year. What stands out in your memory from these positive experiences? What were the key lessons and tangible impacts? Did you share your gratitude? Are there any phone calls to make or thank you notes that still need to be written to the good people who helped you in some way?
- How will you more intentionally make a positive impact on others in 2023? What are the key lessons you learned from answering the previous three questions? Write them down. How will this shape your thinking and influence your behavior in the coming year? Make a list of people you already know from your business and personal life who you wish to invest in and hopefully impact in a positive way this coming year. Be open to the countless others you will meet in 2023 who would benefit from something you have to offer. Be patient. Be intentional. Perhaps a goal of positively impacting the life of at least one person each week in your circle is achievable? Also, remember there are countless simple ways to positively impact others. Being kind or encouraging to a colleague at work, giving honest feedback to a friend or spending quality time with loved ones are great ways to make an impact!
I learned a great deal from this exercise and I expect you will as well. If you are sticking to the traditional approach of deciding which vices to eliminate and which good habits to embrace in 2023, I applaud you and wish you well (for the record, I plan to lose 25 lbs!). But I hope all of us will carefully consider this noble idea of positively impacting others before we jump headfirst into another hectic year. The ripple effect of goodness that will emanate from our combined efforts can absolutely change the world for the better.
Thank you, good luck and best wishes for a happy and impactful New Year!