We now enter the most treacherous time of the year—the time of performance reviews and goalsetting, self-recrimination and unrealistic expectations, flagellation for goals forgotten and determination to try again.

It’s a lotta pressure, folks.

Regardless of corporate HR schedules, there is something about the season itself—the end of the year, the long dark nights of frigid winter (it was 70F in Raleigh this week)—that triggers a reflective mindset.

Make sure your reflection stays right side up.

As you wrap up this year and look to the next, I gift you with three small pieces of advice—deceptively simple steps that can position you to make big leaps in the year ahead.

Find wins

“Find a bright spot and clone it.” —Chip and Dan Heath

Retrospection often brings with it a faulty pair of glasses. We see smears, smudges, and fingerprints rather than the crisp lines of our accomplishments.

By all means, acknowledge the disappointments of the past year, and notice the things left undone. But don’t let those overshadow the progress you have made.

Success includes creating momentum as well as reaching the finish line. Did you plan to write a book, but got only halfway there? Intend to write five days a week, but averaged only two? You’re still further along than you were at the beginning of the year.

Acknowledge and celebrate the things you’ve accomplished and your progress toward other goals. (If you’re bendy, give yourself a pat on the back.) Build on them in the coming year.

Decide once

“The most difficult thing is the decision to act; the rest is merely tenacity.” —Amelia Earhart

Time and again I find myself rethinking my decisions. I see it in clients and colleagues as well.

But according to Dan Gilbert, author of Stumbling on Happiness, we are happier when we make a permanent choice than when we make a keep-your-options-open choice.

Practical application: If you want to write a book, decide ONCE to write a book. Rather than spending your energy on the daily question “Shall I write today?” you can spend your energy writing daily.

Once the decision is made, there is no decision to make.

Begin again

“No matter how hard the past, you can always begin again.” —Buddha

If you’ve ever tried meditation, you know how easily the mind is distracted from its focus, whether a particular subject or a goal of “emptiness.” When I meditate I often count to 10—one number per breath—and then repeat. You’d be shocked if I told you how often I lose count.

When distraction arises, the experienced meditator knows (and the novice is advised) to begin again. She may even use the mantra, “Just let it go” or “Start over.” Me: “Begin again. One… two… three…”

And so it is with writing. Even when you’ve decided, you will inevitably miss a day, miss a word count, miss a deadline.

Begin again.

Holiday wishes

Just as this advice applies to writing, it applies to non-writing. It applies today as we approach the new year, and it applies each day, each hour, and sometimes each minute.

As you reflect on the past year and look forward to the next, I wish you year-round peace.

If one of your goals (or your ONE goal) for the coming year is to write a book, let’s have a chat; maybe I can help. Not sure if you’re ready for a book? Let’s chat anyway; maybe I can help!