Using 2019 to Move the Needle in 2020

Posted by David Lee on December 26, 2018


It’s cliché time…so, let’s all say it together…”Where did 2018 go?” Honestly, I have no idea, but I can assure you it technically didn’t go any faster (or slower) than any other year. For those of us who were exceptionally busy and/or engaged, yeah…it flew by. For those of us who were disengaged or maybe struggled with issues that made for an exceptionally challenging year, it may have felt like an eternity. Of course, there were probably times where it was a bit of both for many of us, myself included.

It seems a little crazy to already be thinking about 2020 given 2018 isn’t even over yet. Stay with me on this and it will make sense shortly. Currently though, it’s that time of year again where we generally do three things:

#1 We Weigh, Measure, and Judge

We seem to look at the “year in review” and judge ourselves, or the life events within this period of time. By and large, we categorize it one of two ways. We generally say “it was a good year” or “it was a bad/challenging year.” Our hopes are largely that the upcoming year will be equally prosperous, or a substantial improvement.

#2 We Make and Break Resolutions

We make many resolutions for the upcoming year and meet some, but not most. We have the best of intentions, and often we look at things we really do want or need to change…but either we set unrealistic targets, or we just lose our momentum. Now, many of us do find ways to make positive changes/developments. This is not criticism at all. But for so many of us, we look at “crash change” and get that gym membership in January and are out of there come February. I am right there with you – I set these resolutions and rarely follow through on 75% of them.

#3 We Dwell On Losses

We think about all of our “misses” that year. We think of failed projects, missed opportunities, and we certainly think about our loved ones…those we still have or those we may have lost along the way. It can be a tough time of year for many of us.

Knowing we generally do these things at this time of year, we have an opportunity in front of us to use those thoughts and ideas for positive, sustainable change and improvement…personally and professionally. As stated previously in item two, sometimes we look for drastic change overnight. It is really not an effective practice to look at “crash change” because those are the changes we typically don’t meet, or can’t sustain. Let’s talk through how to use the three points above for focused, sustainable change and improvement that starts in 2019 and builds to last beyond 2020.

The Problem with Measuring Your Year

Personally, I don’t like a “year in review”…because I tend to look at events that I already processed “real-time” and have no need to re-process just for the purpose of judging or scoring my year. Certainly, self-reflection is a useful practice. I am not suggesting that we never reflect, and I am not suggesting we compartmentalize the past and lock it away. What I am saying is this: We need a break from judgment, from rating and scoring ourselves, and from categorizing a period of time as a success or failure. I prefer to make sure I am growing, developing, learning and enjoying my time, continuously. Categorizing and scoring successful stints seems somewhat ridiculous and depressing. When it’s all just about over, I do not want to look at my life (statistically speaking) in 76 one-year blocks of time. I want to look at a continuous life and path…a fluid development and progression.

Right now, what we are doing as a society isn’t working. We are an overly judgmental, overly critical, scoring and rating-based culture (personally and professionally). That is not a good combination. We pick at each other and notate “flaws” and poor actions, when we ourselves are the ones who really need to grow. It is not working personally, and it is not viable in the workplace.


I want us all to move away from “periods of judgment”, from rating and scoring each other, and from the drama and weight that those things carry. I think so many of us are tired of the year in review personal and professional process, the judgment, the rating, and the anxiety from it all.

Certainly, as employees, we have to perform (and perform quite well) to be viable and employable in today’s competitive hiring landscape. As employers, we have to put goals and deliverables in place to ensure our organizations are productive. Instead, let’s focus on continuous development and continuous improvement. Let go of the judgment we are constantly passing, and the outdated process of scoring each other. I am tired of my life being compartmentalized into 76 one-year blocks of time. I am a fluid individual. Let’s use continuous feedback to connect and discuss what’s “real-time” relevant. Let’s ramp up objective goal and development activity and look at those items we can put in place to ensure that we don’t need to look back because we know we are always working towards moving forward. We can use 2019 to discuss how to do this effectively, transition away from the outdated, and be making significant progress in 2020.

The Problem with Resolutions that Require Crash Change

As we think about making solid change, real improvements, and moving the needle, we often times think in terms of immediacy. We need it now, and it needs be drastic and substantial. As it relates to the professional world, that is just not realistic. If we are mired in outdated processes and wish to change, it takes time, preparation and influence to proceed.


2019 is an ideal time to challenge ourselves to learn how to move the needle the right way and stop setting unrealistic resolutions we just can’t meet. We need to plan, prepare, and influence change for the long-haul…and be ok with it taking a little time to build momentum

Let’s use 2019 to learn how to set difficult (stretch) yet attainable goals while creating the personal and professional alignment that will actually help us to achieve those meaningful outcomes. Hit the trifecta and work on items that are meaningful to the organization, department and employee…and talk about the “why” that connects them all. Do not just focus on immediacy, but medium and long-term impact professionally. 2019 is a great time to build this process into your organization for long-term success.

The Problem With Dwelling On Losses

Every time I lose someone I know I say, “Man, wake up and do everything you can today. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.” I can’t say I heed that advice very well. I want us to move forward and think about what opportunities we have each day right in front of us. I want us all looking forward as much as we can and be thinking about what we can do today, regardless of how fast we are moving, how much we are struggling, or whatever we are feeling. Let’s look back when appropriate, but let’s spend the lion’s share with our head up looking forward.

I want and need to start seizing more opportunities. Looking back is great for reflection, and it’s great to recall amazing things or learn from tough lessons. My goal is to do that strategically or when needed and spend most of my time looking forward, finding more ways to influence change and positivity. By doing so, I can honor those I miss and use my time appropriately, because I know they would have given anything to have more of it themselves.

I wish everyone the absolute best in 2019, I really do…and I am ready to make sure that 2019 has an amazing impact on my/our lives in 2020 and beyond. Let’s use our thoughts at this time of year wisely, and let’s use 2019 to really be the year we are strategic, focused, intentional and feel empowered to impact long-term change. Best wishes to everyone, and I hope we all help each other carry this forward.



About the Author

David Lee is currently a Product Manager for the post-hire modules within the Deltek Talent Management suite, Dave has oversight of Performance, Learning and Development/Succession. As a former Vice President of Human Resources, Dave possesses nearly twenty years of Human Resources expertise with significant focus in talent/employee development and employee relations. Dave is a DDI certified leadership trainer and possesses an MBA from Walden University as well as various HR certifications.