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  • Writer's pictureBarbara J. Mayfield, MS, RDN, LD, FAND

Strategizing for success in the year ahead? Reflect first then take action.

Feet standing near a puddle and black sneakers are reflected

Are you a goal-setter or resolution-maker at the start of a new year?


Goals and resolutions may get a bad rap with way more made than achieved, but I contend that success begins with a plan. A plan centered on achieving meaningful goals. And... A good plan begins with reflection.


Reflection is powerful. 

Planning requires reflection because the best plans are built on evidence. We want to repeat what works and change what doesn’t. If we continue to repeat what has proven unsuccessful, we can’t expect a successful result. Reflection causes us to stop and think about what is and isn’t working.


Reflection is an important step in the process of learning. It takes information and experiences and personalizes them. When we reflect, we consider how a message, an event, or a situation impacts us and what it means.


At the start of a new year or new endeavor, reflection allows us to consider what our knowledge, skillset, behaviors, and mindset currently are and where, why, and how we want to make changes.


How does one harness the power of reflection?

Reflection can be done in many ways. Try various methods and pick one or more that work best for you.


Experiment with reflection activities

A previous post provided ideas for harnessing the power of reflection with our audiences. This post shares many reflection activities from Chapter 20 in Communicating Nutrition: The Authoritative Guide. These activities can be adapted for individual use as well as with groups.


Select several reflection questions and journal your responses

A Google search for good questions to use for end-of-the-year reflection will bring up dozens of options, including ones for specific purposes. Here are a selection to consider:

  • What are 3 words to describe the past year and why?

  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?

  • What challenges did you overcome?

  • What’s the biggest mistake of the year and the lessons learned?

  • What disappointments or regrets did you experience this past year?

  • How have you grown? In what areas have you made the biggest improvements?

  • What were the major life lessons you learned this past year?

  • What are you most grateful for?

  • If you could travel back to the beginning of the year, what advice would you give yourself?


Use a reflection and goal-setting tool

A helpful tool for reflection as it applies to goal-setting and promoting positive change can be found on the free tip page and is titled 5 Questions to Inspire Your Audience to Action. It comes with an accompanying worksheet: Action Plan for Change. Here’s what it contains:



These questions can help you reflect and strategize for success in the year ahead.


Note that reflection that leads to change asks where, why, what, who, and when questions. It leads to meaningful changes that stretch us in ways that are realistically risky and yet sustainable.  


As you make your action plan, you may be wondering whether to take small steps or bold moves. Check out this post for the answer… Either one can work. Choose wisely.


“We do not learn from experience… we learn from reflecting on experience.” ~ John Dewey


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