William, the owner of a health care consulting business, emailed me last week in preparation for our upcoming call. Should we discuss his goals for next year, he wondered, or should we reflect first on the year that just passed?We can do both at the same time, I replied.Back in January, William created five goals he wanted to work on. (He thought fewer would be better, and I agreed.) Of the five goals, he’d nailed two of them, had gotten very close to two, and had abandoned the last one mid-year.After congratulating him on a job well done, I asked, “What do you think made you accomplish those first two goals and get close to the next two? What caused you to give up on the fifth?”In other words, I wanted William to consider what the ideal conditions were for accomplishing each of his goals, and to judge whether those conditions had been in place during the past year. This exercise often sheds a great deal of light on why you did or did not achieve what you set out to do. You can try it for yourself. Ask yourself the following questions:Did the goal harness your strengths? William is a great people person and connector, so his goal of increasing his business by tapping into his referral network was perfect for him. It was something he enjoyed working on because he was good at it.Was it a group effort, or did it rest solely on you? One of William’s goals, bringing a new product to market, required the help of his leadership team. He succeeded because he was able to share his vision with the people who worked for him. Did your goal depend on the cooperation of others? How well did that work out?Did you make the goal a priority? What seems important at the beginning of the year sometimes falls off the radar as the months progress. Last January, William wanted to expand his business by buying another small practice that would add a service his company didn’t provide. While this seemed like a good idea at the time, he didn’t focus on the goal until the second quarter. By the time this goal moved into the priority position, the company had decided to merge with another firm.Did you have a concrete plan to make the goal a reality? You’re more likely to accomplish a goal if you have a road map to get there. You can either plan backward or forward; it’s up to you. With backward planning, imagine the goal has been accomplished and ask yourself: what would have to happen just before that? And just before that? And so on. With forward planning, start from today and list the steps that will take you to your goal.Was it really your goal, or was it someone else’s? It’s hard to admit it to ourselves when a plan is based upon others saying, “Here’s what you should do.” If you’re trying to accomplish a goal mainly because other people think it’s a good idea, or because everyone else is doing it, you may not be pursuing it with your whole heart. Before setting a goal, ask yourself if this is what you really want.Does your goal energize you? Do your spirits soar when you think about working on the goal, or do you feel drained? When something is true and right for you, you’ll feel it somewhere in your body. (For me, it’s in my gut.) The thought of trying something new may make you anxious; that’s normal. Let the twinge of fear clear away before you really assess whether your goal is worth doing.As 2012 winds down, it’s a great time to reflect on what you’ve accomplished, and more important, to think about why some things got done and others didn’t. How will you use this year’s experience to design your goals for 2013?