Artwork for podcast HR Coffee Time
116 | Look back to look forward: how reflecting on 2023 can help you set goals for 2024
Episode 1165th January 2024 • HR Coffee Time • Fay Wallis
00:00:00 00:29:20

Share Episode


Instead of launching yourself into another busy year at work, it is helpful to take a moment to pause and reflect so that you can set your goals. There will be powerful lessons to learn from the year that has just passed and so many positives that you may overlook unless you take the time to stop.

In this episode of HR Coffee Time, host Fay Wallis guides you through the ‘Look Back to Look Forward’ activity from the 2024 HR Planner. It is 10 questions to help you acknowledge your successes and challenges, and spark ideas for powerful goals to set for 2024. In the spirit of ‘walking the walk as well as talking the talk’, she also shares her answers to the questions.


Useful Links

Other Relevant HR Coffee Time Episodes

Looking For the Transcript?

You can find the transcript on this page of the Bright Sky Career Coaching website.

Rate and Review the Podcast

If you found this episode of HR Coffee Time helpful, please rate and review it on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. This video shows you how to rate and review the podcast on Apple Podcasts (because it isn’t very intuitive). If you're kind enough to leave a review, let Fay know so she can say thank you. You can always reach her at:


Enjoyed This Episode? Don't Miss the Next One!

Be notified each time a new episode of HR Coffee Time is released and get access to other free career tips, tools and resources by signing up to receive the free weekly HR Coffee Time email.



Fay Wallis:

Welcome back to HR Coffee Time. And if you're listening to this episode close to when it's released, happy new year. I hope that 2024 is going to be a fabulous year for you. If we haven't met before, hello, I'm Fay Wallis, a career and executive coach who specialises in supporting HR and people professionals.

I've made HR Coffee Time, especially for you to help you have a successful and fulfilling hR or people career without working yourself into the ground. And in today's episode, I am going to be talking you through an activity that I call look back to look forward. Because hopefully after having a little bit of a break over the festive period, you're feeling raring and refreshed and ready to go

with your plans for:


And in the spirit of walking the walk as well as talking the talk, I do do this activity myself. And I also, the year before last, started publicly publishing what my answers are. So I use my HR Planner to write down my answers and then I do a more expanded version on my blog, on my website.

And I can link to that in the show notes if you'd like to take a look at it. Hopefully you have got an HR Planner to help you have a fantastic year. The look back to look forward activity is on page 9 of the PDF version of the planner. And it's on page 12. Just checking that quickly, yes it's on page 12 of the hardback version.


So what I'll do is talk you through the questions now, so you can fill it in live while you're listening to this podcast if you'd like to, or of course you can just have a listen, start having a bit of a think, and then go to the activity a bit later. But I'd really love to encourage you to do it sooner rather than later.

Right, let's get started then. What are the 10 questions that I have for you in the Look Back to Look Forward activity? The 10 questions are, number one, what did you achieve? Small wins are just as noteworthy as big ones because it's just too easy to think, oh, I haven't achieved enough, I have to keep pushing forward.

We all unfortunately suffer from something called the negativity bias because we're humans, which means that we have a tendency to dwell on and really notice the mistakes that we make and the negative aspects of our lives and of our career. But actually there are lots of positive things that we are probably overlooking.


what are you proudest of from:

is what did you learn during:

What are you grateful for is question seven. Because so much research has proven that you tend to be much happier if you are able to acknowledge the wonderful things happening, if you're able to express gratitude.


ghts influence your goals for:

Because they probably will influence them. As you are writing down your answers to these questions, you'll suddenly have Sparks of ideas that you can use for your goals. They're not going to help you set all of your goals, there are other activities in the planner to help you with that, but they will definitely help form probably some of the foundational goals that you're going to want to set yourself for the year.

I'll just give you top level some of the answers I wrote down for myself, so this doesn't turn into a ridiculously long episode. But if you do want to dive into the full answers, then I'll make sure that I do put the link to the article in the show notes for you.


So question number one, what did you achieve? What I found from writing down my answers to this question is, I had achievements that I just hadn't planned for at all. They were great things that happened that happened because people asked me to do things or opportunities presented themselves. I hadn't really set them as firm goals and I always think that's part of the excitement of life.

Yes, we can plan things. Yes, I think it's important to be organised. Yes, I think it's important to set ourselves goals. But the great thing about life is that other stuff is going to happen too, that is often really positive. I did also have achievements that I had planned for because I had set goals for them.

So the ones that I had set goals for were things like making Inspiring HR, my group programme, as good as it could possibly be.. I was already getting high feedback scores for Inspiring HR, but I absolutely threw myself into additional training and research throughout all of last year, to learn how to make it the best possible experience for anyone attending.


I ended up getting 10 out of 10 feedback scores from members of the latest cohort, which just made my whole year really, it really made it feel like all of that work that I put into it was really worth it and really had an impact. I have even more

t I'd like to put into it for:

I'm very lucky to have a highly talented web designer for a sister, she has her own website business which is called This Demanding Life. Her name is Holly, you may have heard me talk about her before. So she created the website for me and one of her business colleagues Amy Newlands did the new branding for me and Oliver Meech did the copywriting for me.


So I'm extremely grateful to all of them. It was great to get the new website live. I added way more to the HR Planner to make it as impactful as possible. I had been testing out various new tools and ideas for the HR Planner throughout all of last year.

version, and I'm thinking for:


Another achievement that I had planned for was that I grew the number of people who subscribe to get my weekly HR Coffee Time emails. There are now seven and a half thousand people who Hopefully, lucky them, get to hear from me each week.

If you don't get that newsletter already, I'll make sure I pop a link to that in the show notes for you as well. I promise it's nothing boring that I send out. I'll normally share information about programs that I'm launching, free resources like this podcast, and stories and things that I've been up to that hopefully you'll be interested in, and that are really focused on helping you with your career.

Unexpected and unplanned achievements that I hadn't set goals for included speaking at my local CIPD for two events and I also spoke, I designed a strategy masterclass and shared that for a recruitment business called Morgan McKinley last year which was a great thing to do, lots of work but it really felt worth it in the end.


I was lucky enough to be invited to talk on lots of other podcasts and weirdly although I've had this podcast for two and a half years nearly now and have done more than a hundred episodes, I felt quite nervous about being a guest on other people's podcasts and I'm sure I could improve at being a better guest for them.

I definitely find it easier to be a host than a guest.

Other achievements that weren't really linked to the main part of my business, they were linked to this podcast, were having sponsorship for the first time. I'm really grateful to Presentus and Penfold for being the first ever sponsors.

I also really improved the podcast guest management process because it had felt a little bit chaotic and really time consuming and I felt like the guests may not be having the smoothest experience so I put more structure and automation in place for that and it's now. A much faster and more streamlined experience.


ing to be one of my goals for:

Really having a fabulous onboarding and offboarding experience

for anyone who would like to book on to one of my programs or workshops or have coaching. Unplanned achievements that I hadn't expected were that HR Coffee Time hit the number two spot in the UK Apple podcast careers chart. This was a real pinch myself moment, I couldn't quite believe it. It's consistently in the top ten and often in the top five, but to actually get to number two, when this is quite a niche podcast, just for you, for people who work in HR, I Couldn't quite believe it, it was wonderful.

And it was also mentioned in several top HR podcast lists. It's about to hit 100, 000 downloads, which again, blows my mind. I cannot believe that episodes have been listened to 100, 000 times. It's incredibly rewarding to know that it's a resource that is helpful for people. What did I do to help others? I actually felt like I didn't do as much to help others outside of my normal work as much as I have done in previous years.


So I delivered a talk for Kingston University's Masters degree students on Human Resources Management. I ran a free workshop for a church because One of my former coaching clients asked me if I would do that for his church. I raised funds for Alzheimer's Society by running HR planner workshops for free and asking for donations instead of payment to book onto the workshop.

But I do feel that for:


I hadn't planned on designing or delivering. Those workshops or talks really. I was so used to doing everything online since the pandemic that I was surprised by how much I enjoyed delivering some stuff in person and it's got me thinking about my goals for this year, whether I want to try and do some more in person work.

What did I do for my well being during the past year? This is probably the one area I need to do the most work on. I definitely felt like I didn't do enough. My stress levels last year were a lot higher, especially towards the end of the year with all the work that went into the HR Planner. It's really made me realize I need to start the whole process of everything to do with releasing the next hardback version much earlier on because


I really really felt quite stressed about it which is not ideal and I just found myself letting other things go that I had put in place to make sure that I keep my well being, so walking my dogs daily, going to pilates, going to tennis, it all just completely fell by the wayside for the final quarter of the year so I could stay on top of my workload.

I have started putting things in place to help, which is mainly getting more support instead of trying to do everything myself. So I have now got a podcast editor who edits all the guest episodes for me. And if I'm organized enough to send him the solo episodes in advance, he's going to help me with those.

I have a fabulous, wonderful virtual PA, Helen, who's recently joined me. And I'm hugely grateful for the support that she's been giving me. And I even have, for the first time ever, someone helping me stay on track with my social media, called Annabelle, who's doing a fab job.


ur, what did you learn during:

I attended ICF accredited group coaching and facilitation training which was great. I also did mediation training with Pragmatism and you can always listen to Pragmatism's founder Pete Colby on the show.

He has been on the show twice before. He was with us for episode 99 most recently, which was how mediation skills can help you resolve conflict at work. And then I also attended a negotiation skills workshop, which was run by Simon Duncan. You can hear him talk about that on why negotiation skills can help your HR career and how to develop them on episode 114 of HR Coffee Time.

I also attended a program for coaches, which is called Positive Intelligence. And then finally, I attended a brilliant virtual workshop design class, which is run by the School of Facilitation. And you can hear Kirsty Lewis, the founder of School of Facilitation, talking about why facilitation skills can help your HR career and how to develop them


on episode 110 of HR Coffee Time. So you can see if I ever do any training that I think is really good, I end up trying to ask the person running the training if they will come on the show to talk about the skills with you, if I think that the skills will be really helpful for you as well. I also really could see the benefit in writing down all of the books that I've read.

So in the HR Planner there's a monthly review section and there's a question that says what have you learned and whenever I'm answering that each month I always make a note of any books that I've read. And this again I think shows the importance of us actually looking back instead of just looking forward all the time, especially if you can be a bit self critical or too hard on yourself.


I kept thinking towards the end of the year, and this might be where I was just feeling so stressed, oh my goodness I just haven't read as many books as last year, I feel like I've fallen behind with my reading. But then when I actually sat down and wrote down in one long list everything that I had read, I realised it ended up being way more than I'd read last year.

So we can really fool ourselves with these things. And if you'd like to see the list of books, if you want any ideas for what you might like to read this year, I've put the full list into the blog post that I've linked to in the show notes. I won't talk you through them all now because there are lots and lots of books, but one thing that helped me read so many is that a few of them I actually listened to as audio books.

And I never used to think I could get into audio books. I'm just so used to reading an actual physical book and having a physical book in my hand. But over the last couple of years, I've started really enjoying listening to them. If you haven't given audiobooks a try, I'd really encourage you to give them a go and see what you think.


Question six, which relationships did you develop and build? I developed and built new and pre existing relationships with my clients, with other coaches, with the podcast guests, and with my colleagues within the Bright Sky team. One way that I ended up deepening relationships without really meaning to is the fact that I started having online accountability co working sessions.

I had started doing this in:

So it means that I'm seeing people more often than I might do otherwise. At the moment I've really upped the amount of co working. I have eight one hour slots throughout the week. Each session is with a different person and tends to focus on a different topic.


If you're wondering what on earth I'm talking about when it comes to co working sessions, all that happens is I have these different people, all eight of them, and I agree to meet with each of them individually on Zoom for one hour at a specific slot.

At the same time, each week, every week. And I use that hour to focus on one thing in particular that I need to crack on with in my business. So, on a Monday, I have quite a few slots, actually. And one of them, for example, is doing all of my Finance admin for the business, something I'd very happily put off forever otherwise, because I'm not great at that side of things.

Another slot I use to help me get started on writing my newsletter and so on and so on. So you obviously are going to have completely different tasks to me that you need to get done every week, but it is a practice I'd really encourage you


to have a think about, especially if you've got things that you really find yourself putting off or procrastinating about.

And in fact I've really seen just how helpful accountability can be so I've decided for the first time ever this year for anyone who has a hardback copy of the HR Planner I am going to start offering free monthly accountability sessions to help keep you on track with your planner. And in that time we can all just go through the monthly review exercise together that is in your planner at the end of each month and I'll be emailing out details of that to anyone who bought a planner.

So if you are a planner owner and would like to join me for 45 minutes at the end of each month to crack on and really make the most of your planner I would love to see you there.


Question seven is what are you grateful for? I'm grateful for so many things. Outside of work, I had some really lovely quality time with my family. We went on some great trips and some lovely holidays. I'm really grateful for you for listening to the podcast every week and for rating and reviewing it or getting in touch with me to say if it's helping you.

I'm grateful for being an HR Ninjas partner. The HR Ninjas is a fantastic free community on Facebook that I've been part of for years now. It's such a lovely supportive community. I'm really grateful to all my co working accountability partners who I just mentioned. I really enjoy seeing them every week and hugely appreciate the fact that we managed to stay on top of our projects by supporting each other. And I'm also really grateful to some people in particular who were just amazing at encouraging me to keep going with the HR Planner and really championing it. And they are Michelle Hartley, Claire Cathcart, and Pete Colby. I've already mentioned Pete in today's episode because he is the person whose mediation training I did.


He has been fantastically supportive and Michelle Hartley and Claire Cathcart have both been on the podcast in previous episodes.

They both have services to support HR professionals so if you haven't heard of them before and would like to see how wonderful they are then I'd definitely recommend looking them up.

Question eight, what did I find challenging over the year? The biggest challenge I experienced throughout the year were putting myself under too much pressure, which is a bad habit that's reared its head again, and it, that is what left me feeling a bit burnt out at the end of the year. I was putting myself under so much pressure to do so many different things to a really high standard.

have to make some changes for:


And I also need to put more support from other team members in place instead of doing so much of the behind the scenes work myself.

Question nine, what insights do you have from reading through your answers to questions one to eight? My insights were looking back is always helpful. It's incredible how our brains can trick us into thinking that we haven't done enough.


My second insight was how much I enjoyed doing things in person again. My third insight was that accountability sessions continue to be really helpful. My fourth one is that process improvement is boring at the time, but it reaps rewards in quality, consistency and efficiency of service. So all the process improvement I put into the podcast guest management process really paid off and as I already mentioned, I want to make sure that I am putting that same improvement mentality into my onboarding and offboarding experience for coaching clients.

s evolve and shift. I'd ended:

But as I developed and tested and researched and worked on the idea it morphed and changed and it ended up becoming the 10 Steps to Strategic Success workshop that I ran at the end of the year and I'm now going to incorporate parts of it into the Being Strategic module of Inspiring HR. My sixth insight was focusing on fewer goals is more impactful than focusing on too many.


The review, the looking back to look forward, it really confirmed that lasering in on a handful of goals is so much more powerful than trying to achieve loads of different things. I put a massive focus on developing my group coaching and facilitation skills over the year and I really felt like it paid off.

Insight seven, I still find it really hard to let go. When I read back on my look back to look forward from the previous year, I talked about finding it hard to let go of some of my coaching work and having other Bright Sky coaches do some of the coaching for me. This year I realised the biggest things I struggled with letting go of is a lot of the behind the scenes stuff, like editing the podcast or corresponding with podcast guests.


But when I did finally let go. Things usually then worked out for the better because of the time it freed up without compromising quality. In fact, it definitely improved the quality by asking other people to help me and I need to remember this as I move forwards. My 8th insight was that I need to free up some more of my time so I don't burn out.

And actually, one important thing I need to tell you that you may have guessed already is that I've decided to reduce the frequency of HR Coffee Time podcast episodes. So instead of releasing the podcast weekly, I'm going to start releasing it fortnightly. Just to give me a little bit more breathing room and also to give me more time to work on other projects and just not feel so maxed out.

I don't want to stop the podcast completely because I love doing it so much and I love the fact that I know hopefully it's helpful for you but I'm just going to see how I get on with reducing it to every other week and I hope that you're still going to really enjoy listening to the show and still tuning in even if it's not coming every single week.


ghts influence your goals for:

The goals that I'd like to set myself that have appeared or materialised after doing this look back to look forward activity are Number one, enhance the HR Planner ownership experience by setting up those live monthly accountability sessions for HR Planner owners. And I'd also like to start sending monthly emails to help HR planner owners keep on track with their planner and get the most out of it and really hit their goals and enjoy their work and have a great impact.


Number two, I want to create a group coaching program especially for Chief People Officers slash Chief HR Officers, depending on which title you tend to prefer. Over last year I coached several people who are in those roles and I've started to get the feel for some of the common themes and challenges I can see coming up.

So I'm quite excited about putting something together, but it's still percolating at the very early stages. My third goal is I'd like to look into getting Inspiring HR accredited. This isn't something I've ever looked into properly before, so it feels a bit daunting, but I'd definitely like to do it. And the fourth goal, I've mentioned lots while I've been talking to you today, which is about creating that fantastic onboarding and offboarding experience for all.

All of my clients. And that's going to involve creating and following a documented process, asking for help and using some automation to make sure there's that really high level of consistency and quality. Number five is I'd like to create a welcome sequence for all new HR Coffee Time email subscribers.


And that might sound like a really small thing, but I've been putting it off for ages. I don't know why, but I think again, I just really want to make it feel like a wonderful experience. If you are signing up to receive anything from me whether it's a free thing or a paid thing. And number six stop doing so much admin myself. Instead I need to start utilizing other team members to help me so I can really focus on the on the work where I can have the most impact, which of course is the coaching and the training and the development.

That brings us to the end of the look back to look forward activity. I'd love to hear how you get on with it, please do get in touch to let me know.

You can always reach me on LinkedIn, I'm there as myself, Fay Wallis, which is spelled F A Y, and Wallis is with an I S at the end instead of A C E. Thank you for listening all the way to the end of today's episode, and I look forward to being back again, not next week, but the week after, with a fabulous guest episode for you.