December is the time of year many people pause to look back and see where they are and assess their progress to their goals. Do you make personal reflection part of your end of the year activities? John Maxwell refers to the Law of Reflection in his book The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth. This law states, Learning to Pause Allows Growth To Catch Up With You. Too often we hurry on ahead through life and don’t take time to reflect on what lessons might be in those moments. Every experience can be a learning experience if we take the time to pause and say, “what can I learn from that?” That’s why I am taking some time to reflect this week.

Overall, 2015 has had its share of highs and lows, but upon reflection it been a very good year for me in many ways. Most important was the birth of my first child. If you have kids, you know that nothing else can change your life so dramatically… and for so long. While many parents may complain about being tired, not having time for themselves or any of a host of other issues that come with having children, I have yet to talk to any one of them that would trade parenthood for the life they had before. Sure I write fewer blog posts (but I’m trying to make them longer and still just as valuable). And there are still e-mails I need to answer and phone calls I need to make. But I wouldn’t trade the time I get to watch the smile on my baby’s face for more hours in the day to work.

This year I also learned not to take my health for granted. I eat right, exercise and sleep 8 hours a night regularly (pre-baby of course). So it is rare I ever feel ill. But when illness hits, it usually has a big impact on me because I am used to functioning at a high level. I am thankful that I do have relatively good health – despite the changes that come with a new baby – and will continue to make it a priority in the coming year.

Another big lesson I had in 2015 was not to ‘bite off more than I can chew’ as the saying goes. I am an optimist by nature, so I think I can accomplish anything I set my mind to do. Well, that may be true, but if I want to do it well, I need to narrow my focus and work on one project at a time. Getting involved in too many things at once leads to not doing any of them the best that I could. Have you ever experienced that? In the year ahead, I am going to focus on the things I do best, like coaching and teaching, and use the rest of my time for my family.

Before you make any New Years resolutions or finalize any plans for 2016, I encourage you to spend some time reflecting on what you can learn from 2015. Explore the questions below for a greater sense of your own awareness of who you are

  1. What is my biggest asset?
  2. What is my biggest liability?
  3. What things lift me to my highest high?
  4. What things bring me down to my lowest low?
  5. What is my best habit?
  6. The secret to a person’s success is found in their daily agenda
  7. What is my worst habit?
  8. What things in life are the most fulfilling to me?

Make it a top priority to find a place and time for personal reflection and asking questions. Schedule time – don’t hope you find the time – to pause and reflect on a regular basis. Take time to ask yourself the questions above, and I bet you will have a better idea of how you can plan to make 2016 your best year ever.

Christopher Burton, MD
Christopher Burton, MD

Christopher Burton, MD is a physician, speaker, coach and author, practicing in Pensacola, FL. He specializes in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation, which focuses on the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of conditions - particularly those of the musculoskeletal and nervous systems - that may produce temporary or permanent impairment of function. Dr. Burton also provides one-on-one Health & Wellness Coaching for select clients who want to improve their life significantly. In addition to his practice and coaching, he actively lectures on health, nutrition and exercise for healthcare groups, colleges, and businesses, and travels internationally teaching on various topics including the treatment and rehabilitation of athletes.