As the weather turns cold and the leaves fall from the trees, we start to reflect on the previous year and set our sights on the coming one. To reflect and review is a natural, cyclical impulse.

We do ourselves a favor when we stop to assess what we set out to do, why we are doing it and discern whether or not it still makes sense. If you haven’t already, take some time to look back on goals, lists and plans you made for 2011 and take a moment to ask:

Your goals: What were the reasons, desires or drivers behind the goals I set? Are they still relevant? How have they changed?

Your scope: Did the projects I set for myself accomplish my goals? Were/are there other things I should/could be doing to accomplish them? Where did you get side tracked? Conversely, did you miss opportunities because you stuck to rigidly to the task at hand?

Estimations and Plans: Were the time frames you gave yourself realistic? did you give yourself enough time? not enough? Were you able to have some semblance of balance between work, life, family and everything else? Did you slack too much?

Going through these questions isn’t just an exercise to go through at the end of the year, but a few times throughout it. A good rule of thumb is to review your goals at least twice a year. If you have set up your projects and scope and are planning monthly and weekly you will have a sort of built in defacto review.

Taking a moment every few months to take a step back and ask the above questions while you’re planning will help you from going to far down a path which may have made sense when you set your goals, but no longer does.

This is harder than it looks.

Life is not static, opportunities arise and must be seized – charts, plans and to do list be damned! On the other hand, we don’t want to jump at each bright shiny object that crosses our path.

I am wrestling with this right now. I look at the past year and can say that I have accomplished much. A lot of these things, however, had nothing to do directly with my business. I did this knowingly and for reasons that were sound, but I fought with myself the entire time.

For example, my Hello Etsy! talk, these posts and my Steal This Process Project and Time Management kit were waaaay out of scope. In fact, the whole thing was an effort to get the word about e.m.papers,ha! But it gathered momentum and took on a life of it’s own and has been a deeply gratifying project.

Having said that, in the coming year I want to do a better job of really focusing on a few key goals and making sure I prune back unrelated extraneous activities, no matter how enticing new opportunities may seem. But I also don’t want to lose sight of the fact that sometimes the surest path to a goal is not always a straight line.

This involves discipline and a lot of soul searching to answer the questions: What do I want? Why? Will what I’m doing help me get where I want to go? Reviewing is helping me to figure this out.

‘What do I want?’ and ‘Why’ are the alpha and omega between reviewing and defining goals. Reviewing sounds easy, but it’s not. Make sure not to skip or gloss over this important step.

P.S. As the link above points out The Steal This Process Kit is now available and ready for download. It’s a 60+ page guide book plus a slew of templates (in both Excel or PDF formats) that walk you through and help you implement the concepts I’ve been sharing here and in my workshop which you can now view here. The kit is 20% off until Friday, November 11, use the code: earlybirdspecial. Thanks so much to all of you who have signed up on the mailing list!