*This is a re-post of one I did on my old Great Resources for Coaches site a few years ago.

For those of you who celebrate Christmas, I hope you had a wonderful holiday! We are wrapping up that week between Christmas and New Year’s right now.

As a student, basketball player, teacher, basketball coach, and athletic director, I always loved this week. It was a non-school week where we could sleep more, practice, spend time with family and friends, and have fun pursuing a variety of activities.

As I transitioned into self-employment a few years back, this week took on new meaning. While I had often developed lists of New Year’s Resolutions in years past, as I became more entrepreneurial and was my own boss, I found this week to be extremely important to my success.

Because my business of writing, speaking, and consulting with coaches, athletes, and schools still revolves around those in the education world, apart from the writing that I do on a regular basis, this time of year is generally not filled with much in the way of “work.”

Look Back to Move Forward

My main focus this week is that I turn my attention backward in reflection on how the year went and forward to the future on how I would like the next year to go. Therefore, this week is an important week when it comes to determining success.

I like to use this week to look at the goals I had for the previous 12 months and determine what went well, what went as expected, what didn’t go as expected, and what didn’t go well at all. Then I try to determine why I succeeded in some areas and failed in others. I then try to use that information to figure out what I need to keep doing and what I need to change.

Once I have looked backward at the prior year and come up with the information just mentioned, I turn my attention to the next year. This is when I figure out what goals I want to establish for the following year.

For each goal I try to develop some action steps that will help me achieve those goals and what kinds of habits I need to develop that will help me fulfill those action steps. I usually shoot for around 10 major goals for the year. I break them up into a timeline in which I would like to achieve them. I shoot for 2 or 3 goals achieved per quarter.

While the plan I have outlined above sounds very positive and makes me seem like a very organized, focused person when it comes to goal-setting, please understand that I am not saying that it always works out perfectly as planned.

In fact, it NEVER works out perfectly as planned. Every year I struggle to achieve a number of my goals or struggle to achieve them in the timeline desired. I am human, and I have my faults that distract me from achieving them to the best of my abilities.

The key, though, is that I have them. I look backward at what I have done and look forward at what I would like to accomplish. I then establish the goals that I believe will push me out of a comfort zone, while at the same time allow me to feel I can achieve them.

By looking back at the previous year, I can ascertain what worked and didn’t work. I can determine what I did not accomplish that I need to keep working on in the new year.

By looking forward, I can determine what I need to do to make it the best year possible. I determine the goals and the plan for achieving them. I then outline my year.

In this way I have a plan of attack for becoming the best I am capable of becoming for the year.

It Works for Coaches, Too!

This system is not set up merely for those of us who are entrepreneurial or self-employed. This process works for anyone in any endeavor.

This system can be very helpful for coaches and leaders of any organization. As coaches & leaders, we also need to look back at the things we did this past year, to see what we have done well, what we liked and didn’t like, and what we need to improve upon.

Then we need to look ahead to the new year and determine our best course of action to make sure that we improve ourselves and our teams in the coming year.

There are many things for us to consider when doing this reflection.

“Did we set goals in the first place?” would be one thing to consider. We need to be setting ourselves up for success in the future by setting goals that are challenging but achievable. Then we need to create action plans and habits to achieve them.

We should also figure out if we are moving in the direction we seek in terms of creating the culture we want in our programs.

  • Have we established core covenants, values, or standards by which we want our teams to operate?
  • What have we done to help our teams learn those values and then live by them?
  • Do we have a plan in place for creating our culture, and are we working our plan?

Of course, a huge part of coaching is the strategy piece – the X’s and O’s.

  • Do we have a solid game plan in place for creating a successful program when it comes to implementing the best X’s and O’s for our personnel?
  • Is there something we could have done that would have fit us better?
  • Do we have major changes in personnel next year to consider in determining our best course of action with regards to strategies?

Finally, we need to focus on the relationship aspects of our jobs and our lives.

  • Did we have a plan in place for creating and establishing positive relationships with our team members?
  • Are we creating a trusting, nurturing environment where our kids know they are safe and where they can grow, develop, and have fun?
  • Did we do all we could to help them have the best experience possible, and what can we do this year to make sure we are providing that for them?

There are probably other areas that you will want to consider as you do your own end-of-year reflection and assessment of your program and yourself.

Make sure to be tough enough on yourself that you challenge yourself to improve.

However, don’t be so tough on yourself that you feel defeated or overwhelmed.

Push yourself to be your best, just as you will want to push your teams to be their best.


The point is to figure out where you are doing well and where you need to improve.

But then the key to it working is to then DO SOMETHING about it.

Create a game plan and then ACT on that game plan.

This is how you use the setting of new goals at the end of the year to help you become the best you are capable of becoming in the following year.

Make the most of the opportunity that this time of year presents to you.

Thanks for being part of the SlamDunk Success community in 2021. I really appreciate all of your support. I look forward to serving you even more in 2022.

Best of luck to you on developing your goals and make it an outstanding New Year!