Another year is coming to a close. This is the optimal time to look back, see how things went, and maybe make some adjustments for 2018 — not only in business but in all areas of our lives.

While it may seem easier (at least in the short term) to just move ahead and keep doing what you are already doing, you can’t afford to do so.

I have this theory about time. It’s not anything that Einstein would put his name on, but one that makes sense to me. I think as we get older the train of time picks up speed, or at least it seems to. Here’s what I mean: When we were five and someone told us that we’d have to wait till next year for something, it seemed like a lifetime, didn’t it? But, when we are forty or fifty, a year is just a blip. We’ve seen so many others go by, each picking up speed like a bullet train. A year doesn’t seem like all that much anymore in the scheme of things.

Here’s the danger with that fast moving train called time: If we wait too long, if we make up excuses, or if we stay too busy to take inventory of our lives and figure out how to finish well, several years can pass by, maybe even a decade. That’s a lot of lost potential, wouldn’t you say?

So, why do we put off this kind of thing in the first place? Well, the problem with looking for answers is there is a real possibility that you might just find them, and knowing what’s true requires something of us.

Someone once told me that if they had cancer, they wouldn’t want to know. That seems crazy, doesn’t it? In fact, Halftime alum and dear friend, Greg Murtha, who recently passed away from cancer actually said the opposite. Greg said, “To me, cancer has been a gift because it has required me to do what I would have never done on my own – slow down. While I thought I was accomplishing a lot…in reality, my former life, to some extent, was an exercise in futility.”

In a way, we all have at some point buried our heads in the day to day and lost sight of the urgency of living with our unique talents and gifts. Greg’s perspective was that cancer was the wake up call that helped him fully grasp the urgency of living fully into who we are, taking risks, stepping out of the hustle, and living each day with intentionality.

We do this best when we know how we are wired and we have clarity on where to focus.

So, as we wind down 2017, take a few minutes. Get off the train at the next stop. Set aside time to pause, reflect, and assess before a new year starts.

Ideally, I recommend planning a brief halftime solo retreat. Pick a day in the next few weeks, preferably a weekday, and go somewhere you can have some quiet time all alone. I know it is hard for anyone this time of year to carve out a whole day. So, first, maybe write out the top 3 reasons why you cannot give yourself at least one full day alone away from your everyday life:

Reason #1:

Reason #2:

Reason #3:

Now, you have been a problem solver most of your working life. You have gotten to where you are today because you are resourceful in overcoming obstacles. I’m sure you can come up with a way to overcome these obstacles. If you need to, pretend your dearest friend came to you with these reasons. What ideas and strategies might you propose to help him or her to be able to get away when it is desperately needed? Write your ideas below:

Idea #1:

Idea #2:

Idea #3:

Take a hard look at your schedule and find a good chunk of time. If you can only afford a half day, so be it. But make sure you are uninterrupted.

When you get away to reflect, I recommend focusing your time in 3 major areas:

First, pray and listen. Most of us talk too much when we pray, which is really kind of silly when you think about it. If prayer is a conversation with God, how can we hear what he has to say if we’re talking all the time? God often speaks quietly, which suggests it helps to be very still in order to hear Him. His voice is often a thought, an idea, a possibility that enters our mind when we ask Him to speak to us. Take time to quiet your mind and ask God to speak to you.

Second, take time to reflect on some specific questions. Ask yourself, “Where have I made the greatest impact in 2017? Is this area of impact aligned with my most important priorities? What would I change?”

Or, ask yourself “Between my work, family, health, and spiritual life, which got my best energy in 2017? To which do I want to give my best in 2018? How can I do this?”

Reflect on your relationships, your time, your work, and your health today. And then imagine yourself in 5 years. And in 20 years. Look up from the rut you are in and see the larger story of your life. What areas of your life need to change to put you on the trajectory to being where you want to be in 5 years and 20 years in these various areas?

Another part of reflecting is not just imagining the outcome, but discerning if you need a different mindset to realize the outcome. How might your thinking need to change in the upcoming season in order for change to happen in your life? What perspectives or fears do you need to leave behind? What perspective do you need to take on in this new season?

Third, create an action plan. You know the routine: attend a meeting, discuss the issues, then make a list of action items you are expected to take care of before the next meeting. A list of action items is a good way to make sure all that valuable reflection produces the change you want it to.

You might also consider enlisting the help of a coach this next year. A coach not only helps you craft the plan, but they are also a steady guide for the road ahead, helping you see around corners and avoid mistakes. For me, it wasn’t until I had a Halftime Coach that I really got traction on living a life of significance, impact, and joy.

So, don’t go into 2018 without pressing the pause button. Reflect. Plan. Strategize. And don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We’re here to help you to live with no regrets, at the center of all God has for you, that your life might have great impact and significance.

Happy New Year!


Dean Niewolny
Dean Niewolny spent 23 years in executive roles with three of Wall Street’s largest financial firms, finishing his career in the financial sector as market manager for Wells Fargo Advisors in Chicago, where he oversaw a $100mm market. While in Chicago, he and his wife, Lisa, traveled many times to Africa and, seeing the abject needs of widows and orphans, made life changes that enabled them to get involved, such as helping to complete an orphan home and a Hospice home in Durbin, South Africa.

In 2010, Dean traded his marketplace career for Halftime to help more people who, like him, wanted to expand their own “first half” success and skills into passion and purpose for meeting human needs and making a significant difference. Dean joined Halftime as Managing Director and in 2011 became Chief Executive Officer.

Dean speaks all over the world to marketplace leaders who desire to use their gifts and talents to serve others. His passion is to encourage business leaders to channel first-half achievement into a second half defined by joy, impact and balance. His first book, Trade Up: How to Move From Making Money to Making A Difference, was published by Baker Publishing and released in July 2017. Click here to buy Trade Up.

Having grown up playing sports—eventually in college and semi-professional baseball—Dean still enjoys coaching youth sports, especially his son’s little league teams. He and Lisa have two children and live in Southlake, Texas.