Written by : Katie Sandler 

Looking Back Over the Last Year Can Help You Plan for the New One

A new approach to self-transformation may be the key to reaching your goals

This time of the year, there are millions of people who look back at the goals they set on New Year’s and often see where they fell short. Many people make resolutions at the beginning of the year, fall short in reaching them, and then beat themselves up when they get ready to go into the next year. One personal development coach says that’s the wrong way to go about improving your life, and she offers a whole new “zoom out” approach to successful transformation.

We often get in the habit of just setting goals, not reaching them, and then being hard on ourselves as we set them again the following year.  According to a study published in the December 2020 issue of the journal PLoS One, most of the goals people set each January focus on physical health, weight loss, and eating habits. Their large-scale study finds that one year later, 55% of the people feel they were successful with the goals they had set, and that there were two things that helped them be more successful.

The first thing that made people in the study more successful was having approach-oriented goals, rather than avoidance-oriented ones. In other words, instead of making the goal to completely avoid something, people are more successful if they have a way to approach it that is healthier and more manageable, or if they wanted to avoid something they had an approach to successfully achieve that.

Secondly, those who had some kind of support were significantly more successful compared to those who did not. That support can be in the form of a group, friend, or a personal development coach. When you have someone who can help keep you motivated and mindful, it will go a long way toward helping to achieve goals and dreams.

Try a new approach to reaching your goals

I have provided support and guidance to many people, helping them to transform their life. My approach involves looking back over the last year, but not in an effort to look at shortcomings or beat yourself up. Instead, it’s about viewing your life from a distance, seeing what you’d like to change, and then visualizing what you want your life to be like.

Here are the steps to the “zoom out” approach to planning for the New Year:

  • Get a journal and set aside some time for personal reflection.
  • Get some perspective about yourself by zooming out and viewing your life over the last year. To do this, visualize that you are watching your life in a movie reel. Observing from a distance will give you a chance to be objective.
  • Ask yourself some questions and write the answers in your journal. Ask yourself things like how the last year felt, what it meant to you, if there is a misalignment in what you see and what you want, what felt good and right, what needs to shift to be more in line with what you want, and what you want the next year to look like.
  • As you perform this exercise strive to be objective and mindful but be gentle with yourself. If there are things you didn’t like that’s okay, this is the time to put them in the spotlight so there can be a shift. Visualize how you want the next year to be and write it down.
  • With that visualization in mind, go into the New Year with a positive attitude, moving your life in the direction that you want it to be. Be gentle with yourself and just keep moving forward.

When a new year starts it’s the perfect time for reflection and transformation. When you do this exercise you will no longer be stuck. You will have a visualization of what you want your life to be like and can help make it happen. By zooming out you get a different perspective about yourself and it can be powerful in helping with self-transformation.


Katie Sandler is a popular impact coach and provides health and wealth coaching and personal and professional development. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a master’s degree in mental health counseling, has a strong foundation in mindfulness-based stress reduction, and has worked in hospitals and private practice. She previously spent time as a research assistant while at Johns Hopkins, focusing on purpose in life. To learn more about Katie Sandler and her services, or to see the retreat schedule, visit katiesandler.com.

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