As we come to the end of another year, it’s a time to take a pause, look back, and reflect on what we have learned, what we have achieved (or not), and how we have shown up.
At the end of 2020, I wrote a blog about reflection and I started it by saying that none of us could have predicted what was going to happen.
While 2020 was the year that no one saw coming, 2021 has also had its share of challenges and uncertainty, as well as times of joy, success, and connection.
What follows in this post are my reflections on this past year.
Focusing on the Good
The end of December is always a time of mixed emotions for me. This year on December 28th marks the five-year anniversary of my father’s death.
For me, this time of year is always a time of mixed emotions, celebrations and sadness, and reflections on the passage of another year without my dad.
My father’s motto was “Today’s a great day.” It’s why I always sign off my emails with “Have a great day.” His motto and positive attitude towards life – even in times of challenge – has shaped who I am and inspires me each and every day to live with positive intention, to get up when I fall down, to embrace life with gusto, and to find the good even in challenging times. I wrote a blog about his motto here.
This positive motto also helps me to always reflect on the things that have happened – both positive and negative – so that I can keep learning…to make sure the next day is even better.
It’s at this time of year that I don’t just reflect on him and everything he meant in my life, but the ways I try to make an impact in the world.
Reflection is not the end, but the beginning of learning
When we’re able to sit down and reflect on something, or a series of things, we give ourselves a gift.
We allow ourselves to pause and to breathe, so that we can learn from what’s happened and we can adjust our process or our actions, with a view to moving forward.
It’s a time to celebrate our wins, learn from our challenges, and re-orient ourselves to who we want to be and how we want to act no matter the situation.
No matter how busy we are it is still imperative to find time to reflect, process, and adjust.
I like to pause and think not only about what I achieved but also how I showed up in the world.
When I do this, I get clarity about what worked well and what adjustments I need to make in the future – what I want to achieve and how to achieve it; who I want to be and what my purpose is; and the actions I need to take to align with that vision of self.
Reflecting on Intentions and Goals in 2021
Watch the video below and the message that follows to learn more about how I’m reflecting on the year with a view to moving forward.
My first step: Differentiating Between Goals and Intentions
I think about goals and intentions in two different ways. I’ve talked about this a lot in the past.
Intentions are about who we want to be. How do you want to show up?
For me, intention is defined by heart plus direction. It’s our purpose. It’s who we want to be.
The answers to that will inform the actions you take to align with that purpose.
When you reflect on your purpose and who you want to be, also reflect on how you actually showed up – under positive experience, under stress, at home, and at work.
Understanding these gaps also helps you to explore the adjustments you need to make for 2022 so that you can be the person you want to be.
Goals are about what you want to achieve. They tend to be external and more measurable.
What did you want to achieve in 2021? Did you achieve them? What didn’t you achieve? What was in your control? What factors were outside of your control? What can you learn?
As you explore these questions, it’s useful to not just think of the outcome but to look back at the process as well.
Examine the assumptions that were behind your thinking and actions that ultimately led to the outcomes.
Celebrate your successes and learn from your “failures”.
My Second Step: Use A Deeper Reflection Process
Regardless of if I’m reflecting on intentions or goals, I use a deep reflection process that I learned over a decade ago.
This process is the foundation for the practice of hansei (“self-reflection”) in Japanese culture or the “study-adjust” process in the way Toyota practices the “Plan-Do-Study-Adjust” cycle (or “Study-Adjust-Plan-Do” as I like to refer to it to emphasize the importance of starting with studying).
I don’t just look at what happened or what actions I or others took, I also look at the assumptions made that led to the actions, so that I can learn more effectively and make different choices or actions next year.
I like to ask myself these questions in these times of reflection (you can use these too!):
Questions to ask when reflecting on intentions:
- Who did (or do) I want to be (as a leader, as a coach and facilitator, as a parent, as a wife, and as a daughter and as a friend)? What is my purpose in each of these roles?
- How did I plan to show up? What actions did I want to take to align with my purpose? How was I working to get better each and every day?
- How did I actually show up?
- What am I most proud of for how I showed up or acted?
- What was a time that was challenging for me to show up as I had intended?
- What adjustments do I need to make to better align my actions with the type of person I want to be moving forward?
- How can I get a little bit better and more intentional each and every day?
Questions to ask when reflecting on goals:
- What were my goals for this year?
- What actually happened? What did I achieve? What didn’t I achieve? What was unexpected?
- What brought me the most satisfaction and sense of accomplishment?
- What would I do differently knowing what I know now?
- What was the process that led to these outcomes?
- What were the assumptions that influenced my thinking and actions?
- What am I learning (from both success and failures)?
- What adjustments do I need to make moving into next year?
For more questions to ask yourself to reflect on your year, check out this article.
Reflections on my own goals and intentions for 2021
My intention across all aspects of my life is to be authentic and to show up to support others to be their best selves by being caring, curious, and connected. I want to lead with joy and a positive attitude, and never to blame (or at least I try to do so!). Rather, I endeavor to look at my process and my own role in outcomes, at home and at work.
As it relates to my business this year, I’ve been focusing on successes – as well as things that were failures, or mistakes, or things that didn’t go how I had expected. (I recorded an episode of the podcast My Favorite Mistake with Mark Graban at the end of December about my biggest mistake and learning from 2021. Watch for it to release next week on January 3, 2022).
My business goals this year were twofold:
- Continue to amplify and increase impact, inspiring and enabling people around the world to live and lead with intention.
- Restore joy and create stability to my business.
I’ve had my business for eight years, but it changed a lot in 2020 with the pandemic and with the publication of my book Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn.
Instead of primarily working with companies directly to consult or lead learning programs, (which is still a large part of my business), in 2020 I also started to offer workshops and remote learning programs to individuals around the world.
Over the course of 2020 and 2021, in addition to the custom programs and consulting I offer to organizations and my Japan Study Trips, my business expanded to:
- owning a publishing company
- authoring and publishing two bestselling two books
- offering online courses both live and on-demand for both individuals and organizations
- increased keynote speaking and requests for talks
- and more!
A shift in mindset and actions
This shift has meant that my business has become more complex and requires a broader skill set (and amount of time) that I alone can provide.
All of this has been wonderful and amazing, but it’s also been overwhelming and, at times, stressful. There was so much I wanted to achieve to make an impact, but there was not the time to be able to do it all.
Under stress I wasn’t able to be the person I wanted to be – especially while parenting two elementary aged school children during a pandemic.
I needed to make a shift in mindset of how I viewed my business, and an evaluation of both my goals and intentions for who I wanted to be and what I wanted to achieve.
Align your actions to fulfill both your purpose and achieve your goals
At the end of 2020, I made intentional decisions, investments and actions in my business, and purposeful choices about how I was showing up each and every day.
Every day I take multiple “intention pauses” (which I talk about in this post and video) to remind myself of who I want to be and how I want to show up. And when I “fall down”, I get up and adjust, and focus on getting “ a little bit better” every day.
Being able to get support in my business allowed me the space not only to achieve more but also to reduce my stress and give more time to be present across all aspects of my life.
I hired a team of incredible women who have taken so much work off my plate (and who can do many tasks much better than I!), and that’s allowed me to really focus on the things that I’m good at and that bring me joy.
I can make more of an impact and do the things that I really love – like running my courses and programs and growing my chain of learning all over the world.
There have been some ups and downs, but looking back, I have achieved both of these goals and intentions for the year!
What did this look like for me in 2021?
What an incredible year it’s been!
The connections made and the sense of community has been truly wonderful. Thank you for being an important part of my chain of learning. That is the most important outcome of all and brings me joy.
Here are some other accomplishments that I made (thought some trial and error, patience, and commitment).
Broad impact and engagement
My This Little Girl Is Me post on LinkedIn has had over 90,000 views – amazing! I still can’t believe it. I wrote this article about the experience of sharing my story and the engagement it generated.
Also my YouTube channel has grown as I expanded my video engagement and had 280 hours of viewing time, and my website (which I redesigned with new layout and updated photos) has had nearly 200,000 views in 2021!
My article “The Real Meaning of Kaizen” itself, which I re-released with a video, has had 16,000 views just this year!
Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn expands its impact
My book, Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn, published in July 2021 in paperback and ebook, has garnered nearly 200 five star ratings on Amazon (185 to be exact)!
I would love to get to 200 reviews by the end of the year.
Is this possible? It is if you go and leave a review if you enjoyed the book and you haven’t yet. You can leave a review on Amazon, here.
And most importantly, I get messages every week from readers saying how much they enjoyed the book and what they have learned. I passed on these messages to Isao Yoshino and he couldn’t be more pleased to know that his leadership and life lessons are having a positive impact around the globe.
Recorded and Produced an Audiobook – Twice!!!
I took the opportunity to record and produce the audiobook version of my book – twice. And I learned many lessons in the process!
Recording at home in the midst of a pandemic came with many challenges, and I learned a lot about assumptions, process, leadership, and audio production generally – which you can listen to when my second appearance on Mark Graban’s My Favorite Mistake Podcast releases on January 3, 2022. You can listen to Isao Yoshino’s and my first appearance on the podcast from January 2021 here.
🎙️ Exciting news! I went to a professional recording studio & re-recorded the “Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn” #audiobook!⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
🎙️ If you’ve already bought it, simply refresh the download!
— Katie Anderson (@kbjanderson) October 20, 2021
To celebrate the successes of the audiobook, nearly 500 copies of the audiobook have been purchased in its first 5 months, and it has over 20 five-star average reviews on Audible. (If you listened to the audiobook and enjoyed it, please consider leaving a review on Audible or iTunes!)
Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn Workbook ranks as #1 Hot New Release
I wrote and published the Learning to Lead, Leading to Learn Workbook as a digital resource (you can purchase it here) in January, and nearly 1000 individuals have invested in their learning or been given it as a resource by their company or as part of my Leading to Learn Accelerator.
At the end of November due to popular demand, I published it as a paperback on Amazon. It debuted as the #1 Hot New Release in the Total Quality Management, Lean Management, Manufacturing Industry, and Industrial Relations Business.
Leading to Learn Accelerator
I created and launched the Leading to Learn Accelerator – a leadership learning experience bringing together the stories of my book and my lessons of 20 years leading and coaching change in organizations to help leaders show up with intention and accelerate their personal, team’s, and organization’s impact.
Nearly 100 individuals have participated in the Accelerator in 2021 — either in my private group programs that I’ve offered twice in 2021 or custom programs for organizations such as the Port of Seattle and LIDZ in the Netherlands.
Participants have come from over 25 countries and in various leadership roles from senior executive C-suite and presidents to continuous improvement coaches to new managers.
3, 2, 1 Countdown! A special gift through the end of 2021
Enroll before January 1 and save up to $200 on the Leading to Learn Accelerator!
Through the end of December, I’m offering up to $200 off to pre-enroll in the next Accelerator Community Cohort starting in early March, or to get the Foundations program with a $100 discount!
Join the Self-Paced Accelerator Foundations Program
Join by December 31 and save $100In December I launched a second tier of the program – the Foundations – for those that prefer self-paced learning at a lower investment point.This is a fully self-paced online course with modules, book study, and exercises, without the live community and group coaching. where you can start immediately and go at your own pace. And you can always upgrade to the + Live Community Cohort later
Register for the Learning to Lead Accelerator Foundations before January 1st to lock in the special 2021 rate and save $100!
Join the next Accelerator Live Community Cohort starting in March 2022
Enroll in the next facilitated Accelerator program by December 31 and save $200!
I’m thrilled to be offering a third live community cohort of the Accelerator starting in March 2022. This is a facilitated 12-week online program including self-paced modules, book study, and exercises PLUS:
- Live biweekly group learning sessions
- Access to both me and Isao Yoshino throughout the program
- Weekly accountability check-ins with me
- A community discussion platform with your learning cohort with leaders from around the world.
Register for the next Learning to Lead Accelerator + Live Community Cohort now, get access to the Foundations immediately, and lock in the special 2021 pricing and save $200!
This is your opportunity to become a more intentional and people-centered leader while you build a meaningful legacy. Rates go up starting January 1st!
Podcasts, Media, Webinars, and More
This year, I was on 21 podcasts as a guest. I was also featured in written publications such as the Lean Mag, the Lean Construction Blog, Yahoo Finance, Markets Insider, Business Insider, and Market Watch.
I’ve led scores of virtual workshops (most now available on-demand), webinars, keynotes, and interviews – and had the privilege to connect with tens of thousands of leaders and learners around the world through these events.
Many can be viewed on my YouTube channel.
I am always energized by engaging with others – virtually or in person!
I had my first ever hybrid ever! I flew to a client, NetJets, in October and delivered a program in front of a handful of people that was live-streamed to over a hundred participants who were virtual.
This was meant to be all in person but we had to make a quick pivot due to Covid (who didn’t have to make a quick pivot this year?).
Thank you @NetJets for inviting me to be part of their Striving for Excellence Summit — to inspire their leaders to lead with intention and align their leadership purpose for maximum impact! We made a quick adjustment for a mainly virtual experience – it worked! 🙌💜 @FisherCOE pic.twitter.com/LoGv0FgJgR
— Katie Anderson (@kbjanderson) October 7, 2021
Growing the chain of learning for all
Through my “right-sized pricing” model, I offered a reduced price or complimentary access to my Accelerator and other live workshops to over 15 individuals (this means that roughly $10,000 of my personal income was donated to make my programs accessible to committed learners who might not be able to afford the listed rate).
I also continue to post regularly here on my blog, have created free content on my YouTube channel, and have given away many of my own books and those of other authors as a way to expand our chain of learning and give the gift of learning to everyone around the world.
Thank you to everyone in my chain of learning for allowing me to connect with you. It provides so much meaning in my life.
Through the workshops and the online programs, the talks, and the custom learning experiences that I have led this year through my Leading to Learn Accelerator and Masterclass, as well the workshops with Mr. Yoshino, I have had the great privilege to directly connect with and influence over thousands of leaders from around the world.
Through my videos, my book, and the community on LinkedIn, Twitter, and YouTube, I’ve been able to connect with tens of thousands of people.
This is about amplifying the impact and really strengthening what I call this chain of learning and that’s what gives me great meaning.
I look forward to sharing more reflections with you in the new year.
We always have the opportunity to influence how we show up, who we want to be, how we live with intention, heart, and direction.
Whether or not we achieve the goals that we wanted, it’s okay, as long as we’re learning and reflecting, and making adjustments.
Remember, reflection is the beginning, not the end, of learning!
As we are closing off on 2021, I encourage you to spend some time in reflection, in studying,
in learning about not only what you achieved or didn’t achieve but also looking at how you showed up in the world and how you are being the person you want to be.
Celebrate your successes, learn from your mistakes or setbacks, and continue to get up and move forward.
Step into 2022 with greater knowledge and self-awareness as you set some great intentions and goals for yourself for 2022.
Take care. Happy New Year.
May today be a great day!
Resources to support reflection on intentions and goals
For more resources on practicing reflection and how to think about the concepts of intentions and goals (as well as some of my past year-end reflections), check out these past articles, videos, and podcasts:
- Intentions versus goals – heart versus mind
- Reflections on Intentions And Goals (2020)
- Live with Intention, Lead with Intention: Intentions and Goal Setting for 2018
- Reflections on 2017: “Today is a great day”
- Year-End Review: 2016 – Reflections on 18 months in Japan and returning to the U.S.
- Year-end Review: Reflections on 1 year in Japan
- 12 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Making Your New Year Resolutions and Goals