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Feedback and Learning

Colleges have exams and assignments, jobs have performance appraisals, consumer product brands have price changes and end of season sales. All have the same purpose. To take stock of what the performance and the learning has been over the last cyclic period, what needs to be unlearned and let go, what needs to be prioritized on for future planning, what the next set of goals and milestones ought to be.

Each follows its own cyclic period. It is very helpful and indeed essential to take a step back and analyse what has been happening and what needs to happen next. This cyclic period can be of any length and can begin and end at any time. As long as it does.

The New Year is one such marker of the end (or the beginning) of a cyclic period. It just happens to be the most celebrated of markers when it comes to individuals. The congregation of holidays around this period only adds to the phenomenon as it acts as an added marker forcing people to take a step back from the rigours of everyday life and relax a little. So you might as well make use of it.

Steve Jobs, in his famous 2005 commencement address at Stanford spoke about three stories. The third was about death. He says:

"When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like 'If you live each day as if it were your last, some day you will most certainly be right.' It made an impression on me. And since then, for the past 33 years, I've looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself 'If today was the last day of my life, would I want to do what I'm about to do today?' And whenever the answer has been 'No' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something."

You can ask yourself that question every day, every month or however often you feel like it. But if you haven't been doing, you should use this end-of-the-year excuse to do so.

The world is structured on feedback and learning. So give yourself the chance to experience that. Today, you have an excuse, a reminder.

Happy New Year! 

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