New Year: New Opportunities?

The New Year offers an opportunity to review the year gone by and to consider future options for progress.  Review and future planning is a valid thing to do at any point in the year, although, the coming of a new year often spurs people on to think about what they want to change about their current situation and what they would like to do in the future. 


Reviews are useful because they help us to pin point the learning we have gleaned to date and utilise it for the future.  We can think through what works and we could do more of and also what needs adapting and/or doing less of.  We can build upon our strengths and contemplate how we might strengthen our weaknesses.  Reflective practitioners and leaders regularly think through past actions/experiences to better inform the future. Utilising others as a sounding board for reflection is also helpful in enhancing our practice (Shohet & Hawkins, 2002).

Kolb (1984) offers a cycle for us to contemplate our learning.  We can think about our actions and reflect upon what happened.  We can think about what the experience meant to us and formulate new ideas from it.  We can then test out our new ideas and see if there is validity to what we are thinking.  The cycle then continues as our experiences, reflections and new ideas expand.  According to this model of learning and review, we never reach a final destination because each new experience helps to reshape our thinking in some way.  Our learning helps us to make decisions about the future.

What would you like the future to look like for you? Collins & Porras (1994) and Megginson (2004) ask ‘what is your big, hairy, audacious goal?’ Is there something challenging that you want to achieve?  Other questions that you might consider relate to what you might want to change.  What do you want to do differently?  What resources and personal energy do you want to save and channel elsewhere?  Or maybe you have some big life questions that are unresolved for you around where are you heading in life or what you consider to be your life’s purpose or mission?  Once you’ve thought about what you want to change about your current situation or what you want to be doing in the future, you can then reflect on ‘how you will achieve your goal.’

Deciding upon actions and a way forward can be complex as there are a multitude of options for us to take in order to reach our goals.  We can think through each of the options, however wild and bizarre, to help us to process which option would work best for us (Whitemore, 2002).  You might want to push yourself to think as creatively as possible about the range of actions that you could take with a ‘what else can I do?’ philosophy that relates to the GROW model of coaching (Whitemore, 2002).  Thinking through the pros and cons of each option/action will help you with your decision about what best fits for you and/or your organisation (Rollnick & Miller, 1991).  Once you decided upon the actions that you want to take, you will need to think through what steps on the way will get you where you want to go.  Thinking through the smaller steps makes climbing the mountain easier.

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We can’t forget motivation and commitment!  Whitemore (2002) completes his goal exploration by ascertaining how willing we are to go into action and maintain the drive.  Hopefully, this year won’t be another year of good intentions that have a few weeks of momentum and then there is a slip back into old patterns of thinking and doing.  What can I do to keep the change alive and my passion for progress fuelled?

Our commitment can be enhanced through sharing our intentions and plans with others whether with a friend, family member, work colleague, business partner or people with whom you are studying and learning.  Courses provide a great place to meet and discuss ideas with others.


The Creative Communities Unit at Staffordshire University offer a range of Masterclasses (one day courses), Short Courses (up to six full days spread out over a period of time) or postgraduate degree programmes (for more details refer to  If the specific topics in this article are of interest to you, then you might want to think about our Masterclass in change management and strategies for success.  If you are responsible for helping others to think through their goals and develop professionally and personally, a Masterclass on this subject might also be useful.  Alternatively, if you are involved in reviews and planning for the future of your organisation, partnership or city, maybe a Short Course on Community Leadership & Management is for you?  If you would like more details contact us on tel: 01782 294793 or email:

This article has been written by Sarah Duffy, Senior Lecturer in Mentoring, for the Creative Communities Unit at Staffordshire University.



Collins J & Porras J (1994) Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies. HarperBusiness, New York.

Hawkins P & Shohet R (2002) Supervision in the Helping Professions (2nd Edition). Open University Press, Buckingham.

Kolb, D A (1984) Experiential Learning.  Prentice Hall, New Jersey.

Megginson D (2004) What is Mentoring and Coaching?  Presentation at Performance Coaching & Mentoring Forum organised by HAS at REC Equality House, Stoke-on-Trent on 19th May.

Rollnick S & Miller W (1991) Motivational Interviewing: Preparing People to Change Addictive Behaviour. New York: Guilford Press.

Whitemore. Sir J (2002) Coaching for Performance: Growing People, Performance and Purpose.  London: Nicholas Brealey Publishing Ltd.