The year has almost walked itself into a new one, and the shoulda-coulda-wouldas grow louder every day. Hindsight is 20/20, but reflection time for future success is worthy of your thoughts. Bottomline? Introspection is valuable. It is time to ask yourself: How could this year have gone better for me? How can I improve moving forward?

I know you have your excuses. They are easy to produce as to why you haven’t been able to accomplish what you hoped you would this year (or ever). So let’s try to work through them. Familiar goal epitaphs may include (but are definitely not limited to): “I could have gotten more done this year had I been afforded more time to devote to my own personal projects, rather than tending to other responsibilities.” There is also: “I would have done more to achieve my dreams had I actually had the money to do so.” Finally, let’s not forget the super-biggie that many of us choke on, for it actually holds us accountable to ourselves: “I should have completed one goal for self-improvement, but I was afraid of failure.”

I understand it. It has merit, sure – fine and dandy – until it doesn’t. Time and tide wait for no one. We must not allow the year’s sun to set on missed intentions. I urge you: Make the resolution now to love yourself more by fulfilling your hopes, dreams and everyday endeavors. Put the pen to paper, add action to the plan and then watch everything materialize.

#1 Don’t​ ​be​ ​too​ ​hard​ ​on​ ​yourself.​ ​ ​You are human. You are not a robot–aha, CAPTCHA!–and the world will not end if you ticked all but two items from your 100 item list! We expect so much from ourselves, yet seldom congratulate and celebrate our small successes. Every satisfaction of a task completed is a joy nonetheless, so yahoo yourself into a tiny back pat!

#2 Acknowledge​ ​and​ ​amend.​ ​ ​Now is the time to take visual inventory of what you called a “W” for the year and what fell by the wayside. Make a “pros and cons” list of 2017, and pay attention to the patterns of things that could have been controlled. For example, if two of your cons happen to be “still running late to work and got written up for it” and “lost a prospective client because I procrastinated on researching and pitching to the company” (two valid and common issues), then perhaps you may want to pay closer attention to improving your time management skills for 2018 and onward. Observing patterns within our actions (whether positive or negative) helps us navigate our lives a little more effectively.

#3 Write​ ​it​ ​down,​ ​and​ ​make​ ​your vision ​plain.​ ​ ​After you have taken inventory of the shortcomings and areas of improvement, write down how you plan to improve. You may even want to rewind all the way back to what you originally planned to improve or accomplish. Do not mince words, either! Now is not the time to be flowery and verbose with the language; be direct. Get to the point so that when you view your posted solutions (Spoiler alert! The next tip definitely includes the words sticky and notes!), you’ll completely know what you mean when you see them. You won’t have to hunt. You won’t have to guess. You will know that “Leave on time no matter what!” means precisely what you wrote.

#4 Sticky​ ​notes​ ​save​ ​the​ ​day!​ ​ They are bright. They are colorful. They are sometimes annoying, yes. But they work when not ignored. Sticky notes carry a power of being visual coaches. They want you to succeed by jogging your memory whenever you see them. They are succinct reminders that you can improve.

Remember: If you can’t fit your self-help message on one sticky note that you can clearly see from two feet away (without snatching your 90-year-old neighbor’s bifocals), then you’ve put too much on the note. Write your plan in all caps if necessary, and don’t hesitate to color-code the notes according to urgency.

#5 Don’t forget to do​ ​the​ ​inside​ ​job.​ ​ ​Ultimately, every action has a root cause as to why it occurred. Remember “acknowledging the patterns” from a few points ago? Only you truly know why some things consistently go unresolved no matter how many times you make resolutions to improve. You owe it to yourself to figure out why those issues have remained stumbling blocks for you for any extended period of time. It sounds like touchy-feely-woo-woo therapy, and maybe it is. Who cares. The point is that maybe it is exactly what’s needed in order for you to actualize your major life goals.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong or amiss about getting help with becoming your best self. That’s how winners are made, and YOU ARE A WINNER! Thanks for staying CONNECTed in 2017; let’s make 2018 a remarkable year!

This article is featured in The Connect magazine’s Holiday 2017/2018 issue. To enjoy the full issue, including exclusive interviews with Hollywood power player Kiki Ayers and legendary branding guru Louis Upkins, expert tips for becoming your healthiest version in the New Year, as well as a peek at the 6,000-year-old goldmines resting inside of the Asian Art Museum, order here. Download the digital version here.