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How to conduct an executive function skills year-end reflection (2023)

Updated: Dec 23, 2023

"I know an end-of-year reflection is important, but where do I start?"


Three years ago, I asked myself this very question.

In this article, you will learn:


Let's dive in.


A high-altitude realization

Picture this: I'm on a flight back home after a heartwarming holiday visit with family. As I glance out of the window, watching the houses turn into matchboxes, it hits me.


It's in this tranquil, high-altitude sanctuary, headphones on and distractions aside, that I realized, this is the time to reflect. Since then, every flight home after the holidays has become a sacred space for me – a time to pause, reminisce, and envision the future.


This year, I'm adding a new twist to this tradition. Instead of unstructured musings, I'm delving into purposeful, introspective questions focused on adult executive function skills. 


What are the benefits of a year-end reflection? 

Year-end reflection offers numerous benefits, both personally and professionally. Engaging in this practice can lead to greater self-awareness, improved decision-making, and more focused goal-setting.

cartoon man sitting in a blue chair at a brown desk, writing one a piece of paper

Self-awareness and insight

Reflecting on the past year helps you gain a deeper understanding of yourself. By assessing your achievements, challenges, and responses to various situations, you develop a clearer picture of your strengths, weaknesses, values, and behaviors.


Learning from experiences

Reflection allows you to analyze both successes and failures. Understanding what worked well and what didn't enables you to learn from your experiences, helping you grow and avoid repeating past mistakes.


Goal setting and planning

A year-end reflection is an excellent foundation for setting realistic and meaningful goals. It helps you identify what's truly important to you and align your plans with your values and aspirations.


Improved decision-making

By reflecting on past decisions and their outcomes, you can improve your decision-making skills. This introspection can reveal patterns in your decision-making processes and help you make more informed choices in the future.


Enhanced productivity and motivation

Reflecting on accomplishments can boost motivation and morale. Recognizing your achievements, no matter how small, can re-energize you and increase your productivity.


Emotional health

Reflection can have therapeutic benefits. It allows you to process emotions associated with various experiences, leading to emotional closure and increased resilience.


Enhanced executive function skills

Regular reflection strengthens executive function skills like planning, organization, and self-regulation, which are crucial for personal and professional success.


How do I conduct an executive function skills year-end reflection? 

Conducting an executive function skills year-end reflection should be enjoyable. Remember, the environment is key. Here are the steps to set yourself up for success:


man wearing a suit, staring up at a large annual calendar with sticky notes on it
  1. Find 15-30 minutes of white space on your calendar where you will be as uninterrupted as possible and add a new event titled “year-end EF reflection”. 

  2. A few hours before, tell your partner, roommates, or children that you need uninterrupted time. Ask them if there is anything they need from you during that time so that you can take care of that beforehand. 

  3. Grab a piece of paper or your favorite journal, something to write with, and download our Year-End Reflection PDF.  

  4. Light a candle, turn on some music, or do whatever will help you relax and enjoy the moment. 

Being honest and open with yourself will lead to the greatest growth. 


What questions should I reflect on? 

The options are limitless! This year, I crafted 3 essential reflection questions with targetted questions centered around adult executive function skills. Below, you will find my reflection.


To be honest, I feel very strange putting this reflection into the world. Part of me feels like I am bragging when I write about my successes. Another part of me is embarrassed to share my shortcomings. However, I hope that my reflection will inspire you to take the time to think back, write, and begin planning for the future.


To download your own beautiful, PDF version of our executive function end-of-year reflection questions, click here

What went well? 



Planning. 

I got married! The many months of planning, preparation, and spreadsheets led to a day that was more special than I could have imagined. I also picked up a few new keyboard shortcuts to improve my spreadsheet skills. 


Earlier this year, I left my job and started two new businesses. This was very stressful, scary at times, and not executed perfectly, but pretty close to it! I love the flexibility of creating my schedule and the new challenge of writing a weekly newsletter and blog.



In November, I met my long-term goal of speaking at a national conference for the first time. This took a lot of planning and preparation. I broke down the project into steps, added personal deadlines to my calendar, and stuck to my plan.


Emotional Control.

I am so lucky to be in an incredible relationship with my wife. She is truly my best friend. But, we do have disagreements. I am proud of how I managed my emotions during these times. I find that I can take a step back and respond from a place of understanding and compassion, not one fueled by my emotional state. I worked hard to cultivate a morning meditation habit which has greatly improved my emotional control.



Impulse Control.

One of my big goals in 2023 was to revive my morning meditation habit. The friction that prevented me from forming the habit last year was checking my phone in the morning. So, I made a change and one that I will never turn back from. I started charging my phone outside of my bedroom and meditating before looking at it.


Here's the scary thing. Even after 1 year, when I wake up in the morning, my brain immediately wants to find my phone. I wonder if this impulse will ever disappear.



Planning, Impulse Control, & Time Management.

I surfed over 120 times and continued to emphasize quality sleep, eating whole foods, and exercising daily. I did not run an ultra marathon this year but still logged over 850 miles of running. 


What am I working on? 


Sustained Attention & Impulse Control. 

Texting and emailing derailed my focus daily.


I really do not want to do this but, I should remove iMessage from my laptop. I make excuses about needing iMessage on my laptop but, the reality is, that I don't. Every time I get a text, even if I don't open it, the noise and notification in the top right corner of my screen steal my focus. 


This year, I learned one way to eliminate the distraction of email: only check it twice per day. I check email around 10am and 4pm each day. That's it. To be honest, I haven't stuck to this rule as well as I would like. In 2024, I will commit to it!


Time Management.

I love YouTube! The recent addition of YouTube shorts has increased the amount of time I spend watching surfing and funny animal videos. YouTube distracts me at the end of a long day. I sit on the couch, knowing I should go to bed, but scroll instead.



Cognitive Flexibility.

My biggest EF weakness is cognitive flexibility. I struggle to adjust to changes in plans. I also really struggle to enjoy spontaneity. I know...boring, right? The thing is, this challenge is real and deep. My rigidity impacts my emotions and makes it difficult for me to adjust on the fly.



What am I aiming for?


Time Management.

Getting into bed by 10:30pm during the work week (that includes Sundays!). As I mentioned before, YouTube is what prevents me from doing this now. So, I can give my phone a bedtime to avoid the YouTube rabbit hole. I will set a reminder to put my phone to bed at 10pm.



Cognitive Flexibility.

In 2024, I will learn ways to handle changed or unexpected plans. I notice that my rigidity negatively impacts the people around me. I am not sure how I can learn to be more flexible, so I see this as an opportunity to read, listen to podcasts, and grow. If you have any tips, books to read, or podcasts to listen to, send me an email!


Goal-Directed Persistence.

While UpSkill Specialists is growing, we did not meet our main goal. While slightly disappointing, it was also a chance to reset. Sean and I recalibrated and developed action-based goals for the first 12 weeks of 2024.


Planning.

I overcommitted myself too many times, especially when making weekend plans. For a few months, I did not have a weekend off. It left me feeling drained. I have a goal of taking more weekends off in 2024 so that I can spend that time relaxing and recharging. 


I finished reflecting...now what?

In our busy, go, go, go world, we rarely have time to reflect. However, growth does not happen during an experience as much as it does afterward. It is in reflection that true growth takes place.


Now that you honestly reflected on your adult executive function skills, what should you do next? The answer: set a goal.


Not sure where to start? Download our free goal-setting framework


You can also book a free strategy session with me by clicking the image below. In this session, we will identify your #1 goal and begin sculpting your action plan. 


white male with long, dark hair, standing in front of a green background, wearing a black jacket

Conclusion

As we wrap up this journey of introspection and planning, remember that the true power of an end-of-year reflection lies in its ability to transform how we view ourselves and our future. Your reflections on executive function skills aren't just a recap of the past; they're stepping stones to a more focused, organized, and fulfilling life.


Take the insights you've gained from this reflection and channel them into tangible goals. 

Whether you're seeking to enhance your time management, boost your emotional control, or refine your planning skills, each goal sets you on a path of continual growth and self-improvement.


Don't wait for a new year's bell to start making changes. Every day is an opportunity to grow and excel. And if you need a guiding hand in setting those goals and crafting an action plan, we are here to help.


Download our goal-setting framework or book a free strategy session with me. Together, we can turn your reflections into actionable plans that lead you toward your desired future.




Stay engaged


About the author

Eric Kaufmann, M.Ed is a Professional Educational Therapist and Certified Executive Function Coach. He is the Co-founder of UpSkill Specialists, an online adult executive function coaching company designed to guide adults in overcoming disorganization, procrastination, and productivity roadblocks so they can unlock their potential. Eric is also the founder of Elevate Learning Solutions, an Educational Therapy practice located in San Clemente, CA, that guides students with neurological differences toward becoming independent and confident students and self-leaders.

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Upskill Specialists was founded when two former special education teachers turned executive function coaches decided that adults need tools and coaching to improve their workplace skills and feel confident and empowered. Our mission is to ensure every adult with EF challenges has access to high-quality coaching services. 

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