This Year’s Successes, Failures, & Lessons Learned

This Year’s Successes, Failures, & Lessons Learned

8155-honest-self-reflection-opens-your-mind-to-re-programming-changeUsually this time of year we are busy with holiday activities (shopping, trimming trees, entertaining, etc.). While stress levels can often rise due to extra demands on our time, you should stop to reflect on your successes, failures, and lessons learned. It is helpful to do this before thinking about what you want to accomplish for the next year. I have done just that since the Thanksgiving holiday would like to share with you to help you encourage reflective thinking for yourself. If I can share them freely on the world wide web, then certainly you can spend some private thinking, and possibly recording your success, failures, and lessons learned in your own way. Maybe you will even share them in the comments below.


We are often too busy worrying and thinking about the next proposal, assignment, crisis, etc. to stop long enough to enjoy or even acknowledge our successes. No matter how small a success may seem, you should stop long enough to recognize your awesomeness. This is hard to do, even more so, I have found for women.

Personally, this year has been a great success. I was selected to speak at two SMPS regional conferences which enabled me to meet new friends and fine tune my public speaking. I passed my CPSM exam and facilitated a virtual study group. I was offered and accepted a great position working in new markets. I also built a brand new house that is officially my dream house.  Sometimes I have to remind myself how far I have come and feel proud. It isn’t always easy to do.

These are some major goals I achieved this year. There have also been some smaller, but still important, victories too. From my first project win at the new firm to seeing the light bulb appear above a project manager’s head, each deserves some kudos.

What successes did you have this year? Take a moment to think about each throughout the year and feel proud of yourself. You Rock!


Many people avoid talking about failures at all costs. They would rather not know or acknowledge their failure because they feel shame. Not me. Here’s why. Failure comes with trying new ideas, pushing the envelope and not following the pack. To me, there is no shame in that. In fact, if I didn’t have any failures, I would feel shame. Now, don’t get me wrong losing a project that you put blood, sweat, and tears into sucks. I am not disputing that. What sucks is that knowing you didn’t give it your all when you could have. That sucks even more.

I have had failures this year. The most blaring is with the Marketers Take Flight blog. I had grand expectations of writing regular posts, hosting regular calls, interviewing great marketers, etc. Well, as you can see not much of that has happened. There have also been project losses, of course. Those always suck. Then there was my goal of getting to my pre-baby weight (my daughter is four!) by my birthday in October. That didn’t happen. It probably won’t happen by next year.

The best thing about failures is that we can learn from them. What failures were you lucky enough to have this year? What can you learn from each?

Lessons Learned

I try to take away something from everything that I do or don’t accomplish as well as situations I can or can’t control. As perpetual self-help learner with a side of nerdiness, this really excites me. The hardest part of this exercise is not recognizing the lessons learned but applying them going into the future. This is where self-awareness and discipline come into play.

Some of the major takeaways from 2013 for me are:

  • Know what you want. At the start of 2013, I wasn’t sure what I wanted my career path to be. I was even thinking about leaving the AEC industry. I was lost. It took being around 100+ AEC marketers at the SMPS Southeastern Regional Conference and talking at length to several professionals to figure out what I wanted to be when I grow up. I wanted to lead the marketing and business development for a firm headquartered in my area and less than 500 people. It wasn’t until I put this specific desire out to the universe that the opportunity presented itself. It even happened quicker than I had planned as I originally gave myself two years. If didn’t know what I wanted, I probably wouldn’t have considered this position.
  • Lower expectations of yourself. This is hard for most of us who have always been called an overachiever. We set insane expectations of ourselves and then kick ourselves when we don’t achieve them or things don’t turn exactly has we pictured them in our mind. This has taken me almost an entire year just to recognize and I am consistently reminding myself “does it have to be like ….” or “does it really need to look like….”. Doing this has made me more at peace with my weight, the appearance of my house, etc. This release of self-created guilt has set me free to focus energy on the things that really matter and really being present in the moment.  Now, I am not lowering expectations to levels that would jeopardize my work product, but resetting them to level that is just above everyone else’s and below my insane expectations of myself.
  • Surround yourself with like-minded, supportive people. Every professional development and self-help book will tell this. It is so true. Time is our most precious asset. Do not waste it with people who just bring negativity into your life. Instead, seek out what makes you happy and spend time with people who have similar interests, goals, life outlook, etc. You want to be with people who support you and not question you. This is hard to do at home and at work.

This is the fun part. You can take a little of what worked and what didn’t work, mix it with the lessons learned and visualize how your 2014 will look. I will be spending some additional time thinking about this over the holiday break and I hope you do too.

Please share your lessons learned in the comments below.

Have a happy and safe Holiday season!

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