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Taking Stock of this Year’s Successes and Failures

It’s quite amazing how fast 2009 has gone by. About twelve months ago, most of us were frightened at the idea of witnessing the U.S. economy collapse, dragging us all into the abyss  of an economic depression. Although it is now safe to say that we all have been spared from an economic depression, most of us would admit that the year coming to an end has been uncharacteristically challenging.  In the midst of all the curve balls that the year 2009 has thrown at us thus far, it is important that we take a few hours or days to put 2009 in review to figure out how our accomplishments and our failures can help us improve our level of preparedness as we all get ready to transition into a new year that will bring along its shares of opportunities and challenges. FYI preparedness is defined as “an important quality in achieving goals and in avoiding and mitigating negative outcomes.” In the past 360 or so days, each of us has had his moments of limelight.  As this year comes to an end, I invite you to take a microscopic view of your most meaningful accomplishments.

As you scientifically examine the circumstances that surrounded your most victorious moments, you will get to learn which of your strengths played a critical role in your different attainments.  For instance, if you had a successful internship over this past summer,  make an effort to figure out which of your strengths had a hand in your internship’s success.  I understand that some of you might not have participated in an internship this year but you could have been part of a remarkable group project or you might have positively impacted the activities of one of the fraternities/sororities or clubs you are affiliated with.  In other words, no success is too meaningless. Once you have figured out how and when your strengths were the most valuable, then you will be adequately prepared to identify situations that call for those specific qualities. If on one hand successes help build confidence, on the other hand failures help forge character.

Like I said earlier, the year 2009 hasn’t been by most accounts one of the prettiest. I mean, we all have heard stories of people loosing either their jobs or their homes and in some instances loosing both. And as I speak, some people are fighting to hold on to their mortgages while some others are struggling to pay for college. There is absolutely no doubt that the year 2009 has given to each and every one of us our share of struggles. As this year ends, now is the time to look back and go over some teachable moments. It is often easier to maintain a healthy dose of objectivity in the face of success than it is with failure. Consequently, as you take a critical view of your misfortunes, it is very important that you strive to be as emotionally removed as humanly possible. Indeed, the last thing you want is to have your judgment corrupted by the bad taste that those unfortunate events left in your mouth. For example, if you unsuccessfully competed for several jobs, try not to put all the blame on the HR Departments or on the state of the economy. Try instead to reassess your job search strategy along with your resume writing and your job interviewing skills. Doing this type of exercise will enable you to spot then attenuate some of your weaknesses just so you won’t easily fall victim to them in the future.

As George Washington once said: “To rectify past blunders is impossible, but we might profit by the experience of them.” It might be impossible to rewrite history, it is however possible to prevent some chapters of history from repeating themselves. I am not advocating that you rest on your laurels nor am I encouraging you to dwell on each of your misfortunes. In fact, you should avoid at all costs to immerse yourself in either activity. What I am recommending here is that you take an introspective look at your life as it has unfolded throughout the year soon to expire. It is indeed very difficult to maintain a high level of preparedness without being a good student of history.

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