The Art of Completion: Reflecting on Your Year

Gusto Editors

Do you know how to create and execute personal and professional goals? 

2020 was a tough year financially and personally for countless people, including accountants and small business owners. Now more than ever, it’s important to approach the new year with clear goals for growing your business and improving yourself. But what is the most effective way to create and accomplish your professional and personal goals? 

Gusto’s partners at CPA Academy held an edifying webinar on December 28, 2020, about planning and executing your goals. Their webinar featured certified life coach and inactive CPA Amber Setter — you can watch the full webinar here

Amber offered great practical advice for reflecting on 2020 in order to create goals for 2021. She asked the webinar viewers incredibly thought-provoking questions to encourage reflection and growth, and we’re going to relay those questions to you throughout this article. 

You’ll learn all about developing self-awareness and internal strength, why you should practice daily gratitude, helpful tools for creating and accomplishing goals, and the importance of being proud of what you’ve accomplished. Let’s get started!

The importance of self-awareness

Before developing your goals for 2021, it’s important to develop a sense of self-awareness and reflect on your accomplishments and shortcomings of 2020. 

Amber observed that many accountants are great planners for moving forward financially, but they may lack certain qualities that enable them to make effective life goals: 

“The majority of my coaching clients are accountants who are very well versed at looking at past financial performance to predict the future business results. But that doesn’t always work so well with our life goals. There’s a lot of power that comes from reflecting, not just on quantitative metrics, but on qualitative experiences.”

Amber Setter

A crucial part of planning personal and professional goals is knowing yourself and asking yourself questions that enable you to self-reflect. Amber observed that you know yourself better than anyone else does, but it takes self-reflection to contemplate where you’ve been and how you should move forward with your goals:  

“You know what keeps you up at night. You know [what] your greatest hopes are. You know where your frustrations are. You know your teams better than I do. … When I’m working with people, I assume that they’re the expert on their lives. … There’s a lot of value [in] just having you stop and look within yourself. Identify, ‘Where am I today and where do I want to be in the future?’ … So, as we go through this experience today, that’s what you’re going to do. You’re going to have a chance to look within your own self.”

Amber Setter

Self-reflection and contemplating 2020 will bring you closer to your sense of purpose so that you can set personal and professional goals for yourself. Amber described how a great way to thrive in 2021 is to get a sense of completion about 2020. When we fail to contemplate our experiences in a previous year, we’re leaving that year incomplete. Amber encouraged everyone to contemplate where they may be experiencing incompleteness: 

“When I work with my clients, I tell them to think of being incomplete, the opposite of complete. … When we have incompletions in our life, we can’t really run through life with fast-paced velocity and ease because we have all these underlying incompletions. So we’re going to start off [by] getting complete on the past year.”

Amber Setter

Resolving your incomplete spaces is crucial for developing your goals moving forward into 2021. Luckily, Amber provided great questions for self-reflection that will help you fill those incomplete spaces and become an even better expert on yourself and where you want to go.

Side view of woman standing in front of white board writing out year goals

Developing internal strength and practicing gratitude

Amber asked great questions all about developing self-awareness and internal strength. Two of which were: “What was the smartest decision that you made in 2020?” and “What did that smart decision provide you?” Take a moment to reflect on those questions with your own answers. 

Some of the webinar viewers answered in the poll that their smart decisions in 2020 brought peace, acceptance, staying calm, and enjoying family time. Amber observed that working on internal peace and acceptance are key parts of developing internal strength: 

“So those are the ways in which one really becomes responsible for the design of their internal space. And something I’ve been talking about … is really becoming … like a mango. So a mango … it’s juicy, it’s flavorful, but [on] the inside it has a very strong core. And so I’m not so strong on the external that I’m unreachable, that people aren’t interested that there’s no sweetness or vitality to life, but there’s the strength in the core.”  

Amber Setter 

Developing internal strength is crucial because you never know what life will bring you. No one was expecting COVID-19 and the economic fallout of the pandemic. You can’t control what life brings you, but you can develop the internal strength and flexibility to take on life’s challenges head-on and adjust your business accordingly. 

Another great question that Amber asked was, “What gifts did 2020 bring you?” Reflect on that question for a moment. 

One helpful poller observed that 2020 brought a slower pace, which is conducive for reflection and determining what you want and what changes you need to make in your life:

“That’s another thing that people are enjoying, the slowdown really taking on forced operational changes. … [We] have goals that we don’t get to, and usually [when] we don’t get to a goal, it’s never that we don’t have time. It’s a challenge to do it. It’s not a high priority. There’s usually something beneath the surface. Not having time is always a cover story, but COVID might’ve made some real forced changes that you had to do right away, brought the urgency to the surface.”

Amber Setter 

The economic slowdown caused by COVID-19 gave many a moment of reflection to evaluate and plan for their futures, and in some cases, it forced people to make necessary changes. Rather than continue making excuses about not having time, we need to prioritize our goals and execute them. 

The next question that Amber asked was, “What was the greatest lesson that you learned in 2020?” Reflect on that question for a moment. 

One poller gave an excellent answer, saying that they learned to be “thankful for life and love.” Amber noted that practicing gratitude is a crucial part of our external and internal success: 

“There’s a lot of data and science and neuroscience around the practice of gratitude and how it can uplift us. So that’s a daily practice. I recommend if you haven’t done it yet, just jot down what are three things that you’re grateful for at the end of the night. Go through a little audit of the day in your head.”

Amber Setter 

It may sound simple, but writing down what you’re thankful for will help you become more grateful for what life has given you, and it will help you develop internal strength. Developing internal strength and practicing gratitude are both crucial for living a fulfilling life and setting professional goals.  

Not book with woman writing out her last years reflection goals

Create goals and be proud of what you have accomplished

Reflecting on the past year is an important step in creating goals for 2021. However, it’s also important to recognize that you’re still growing and developing, regardless of whether you accomplished your goals in 2020. 

“If you’re someone who feels like, ‘Oh, I don’t feel like I rose during this occasion.’ I would just invite you to think about [how] you’re still in the growth. … You’re still discerning. … If you’re still dazed and confused, it’s okay. We’ve all had different circumstances that make it more confusing and more disorienting. But every peak has two valleys. If you’re in a valley, know a peak is coming. … We’re always looking for where things are incomplete and where we didn’t do the job well. … It doesn’t do very much good for our self-confidence and seeing what we have achieved.”

Amber Setter

Even if you’re having a difficult time and didn’t accomplish everything you set out to do in 2020, you can still be proud of your growth as a person and recognize that you can accomplish your goals in the future. Don’t only focus on what you didn’t accomplish — focus on your growth and then plan to address what goals you need to achieve this year. Amber offered exceptional advice for writing and executing your goals in 2021:

“One of the things that I like to do is I write my goals out once a year. I put it in a word document. Sometimes I often print it and post it on the wall. And I like to have the gift, the gratification of crossing things off the list, seeing what I’ve done, because sometimes [what] I’m trying to do … maybe they’re not happening as fast as I want, but if you stop and see, ‘Well, there are still things that are going. There are still things where I am getting traction.'”

Amber Setter

Writing down your goals and recognizing that they’re still a work in progress is important for accomplishing everything you set out to do this year. If you’re too hard on yourself for what you haven’t accomplished, you’ll have difficulty moving forward with your goals. Your life and business are a work in progress, and you can continue striving for professional and personal growth in 2021.  

Learn more about setting goals in 2021

Creating and executing goals for 2021 is crucial for your success and your business. To get the most out of your goal setting, you need to develop self-awareness, internal strength, practice gratitude, and be proud of what you’ve accomplished. When constructing your goals for the new year, be sure to write them down in various locations and give yourself the satisfaction of crossing things off your list and recognizing your progress. 

We are so thankful to our friends at CPA Academy and Amber Setter for hosting this great webinar on creating goals for 2021. If you want to learn more about creating goals and thriving in 2021, read Part Two of this webinar series titled “Setting Yourself Up for Success in.” Also, be sure to check out the full webinar here.

Here at Gusto, we make it easy for accountants and small business owners to get ahead. A great way to get the edge over the competition and better serve your clients’ needs is by entering our People Advisory Certification program. You’ll learn how to consult with your clients beyond accounting with people-centered services, such as HR, payroll, and benefits, and you’ll gain access to invaluable resources that will help you better serve your clients and grow your firm. Learn more by visiting our People Advisory Certification program page and our website

Gusto Editors Gusto Editors, contributing authors on Gusto, provide actionable tips and expert advice on HR and payroll for successful business management.
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