Business Planning2020 was an unprecedented year. Between the pandemic, social unrest, the presidential election and economic uncertainty, we are all ready to put this year behind us and turn to the year ahead

But, if you are not careful, turning too quickly to what’s possible next year becomes a drug we take to numb the pain and discomfort of goals unmet.

By ignoring the past and turning to the future, where hope and possibility lie, we miss the opportunity to draw wisdom from the 12 months we just lived.

I know, because for years, I would roll into December with great anticipation and leap headlong into crafting a vision for the coming year. With my “Pollyanna Persona” in tow, I would dream of new products I wanted to launch, team members I wanted to find, and collaborations I wanted to land – all without a moment of reflection on the year I just lived.

While I am wired to focus on what I want rather than what is, when we fail to take time to look in the rearview mirror and reflect the year we just lived, we fail to tap into the wisdom our past has to offer.

It was this truth, five years ago, that inspired me to create the Rearview Mirror Exercise, which now represents Step 1 in my annual planning process.

By reflecting on 10 powerful questions, we can glean from our answers, clues to what we want more of and what we want to leave behind. Through these 10 questions, we become more informed and more in alignment with what’s important and what God has in store for us in the coming year. We identify patterns that blocked our success and embrace the actions, strategies and events that fueled our success.

As a result, you come away with greater clarity around what you want next year to bring.

But let’s face it, given the year we have all just lived, looking back may not be easy. It requires a big dose of self-love and compassion, as we forgive ourselves for the miss-steps, misses and disappointments. It also requires that we let go of any guilt we might feel regarding how we showed up or navigated this unprecedented year. When we step into the planning process with gratitude for what was and trust in our ability to reset our path to success, we claim the power we hold to turn our vision into our reality.

Here are the questions from Step 1 of my annual planning process – Rearview Mirror Exercise

Step 1: Let Your Past Inform Your Future

What went well?

  1. What are you most proud of accomplishing last year?
  2. What projects, campaigns, promotions, or events brought you the most joy?
  3. What projects, campaigns, promotions, or events brought you the biggest results?
  4. What 3 key business relationships did you nurture?
  5. Where did the money flow from, without a lot of stress or effort?

 What didn’t go so well?

  1. What projects or promotions didn’t turn out as planned and why?
  2. Were there decisions or projects that you would have done differently?
  3. If you had a “do-over card,” what would you have done differently last year?
  4. What do you wish you had done more of last year?
  5. What do you wish you had done less of last year?

When you take the time to reflect on the year you just lived, you give yourself a gift and begin to uncover the things you want to achieve and the person you want to be. These are the hallmarks of a purposeful plan for creating your best year yet.

Making Sense of What You Notice

As work through the Rearview Mirror exercise and look at the landscape of the year you just lived…

How does that feel?

What is present for you?

Is there a sense of accomplishment, completion and pride? Or does this trip down memory lane, leave you with a sense of melancholy, guilt or regret?

No matter where you land on the spectrum, let it be OK for right now. Don’t make what unfolded right or wrong, good or bad. Just let it be and notice.

Business growth is never a straight line to the vision.

There are twists and turns, zigs and zags and even an occasional crash. And that’s OK. In fact, it’s normal.

So, my friend, take heart if you too had a year that didn’t turn out as you had imagined. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you are still in the game, marred with sweat and soot, and ready to go another round. I’m right beside you, suited up and ready to get to work to turn our shiny new vision into our new reality.

May the force be with you!

If you have a team, ask them to complete the exercise as well and then notice what is revealed. By celebrating your wins together and pinpointing what you don’t want to repeat, you’ll step into 2021 as a strong, aligned team that is committed to a purposeful and profitable year.


Jane Deuber is a business strategist with 33 years and 7 successful start-ups to her credit and helped over 15,000 entrepreneurs experience greater fulfillment and improved profits through her programs and products. To learn how Jane and her team can help you expand your reach and increase profits, check out her two companies, Global Experts Accelerator and Smart Biz Quiz.