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Utilizing Reflective Practice for Goal Setting in the New Year

“New year, new me” is a common expression used when setting goals for the New Year. This is usually followed by “I’ll start next month” or even “I’ll try again next year.” As 2017 comes to an end, we want to be mindful of the goals we are setting for ourselves rather than putting them off until we are most prepared to accomplish them. Goal setting must be done with intention in order to maintain the goal, learn more here. Setting goals is an initial step, maintaining motivation, and creating behavior change is harder! We get it, we have all been there. So how can we make our goals effective in the present?

Here at TOPPS, we suggest adding reflective practice into your routine heading into the New Year. Reflective practice helps an individual learn from their own experiences and those of others to better themselves (Tsingos, Bosnic-Anticevich, & Smith, 2014). It is beneficial for growth and change to reflect on previous experiences to determine the future effectiveness of our goals. Incorporating reflective practice in a daily routine will assist in new understandings, perspectives, and alternatives for future experiences (Tsingos, Bosnic-Anticevich, & Smith, 2014). To further understand the concept of reflective practice, let’s begin by examining the different methods of reflection. These steps will assist in developing effective goals by building awareness in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. These concepts include: reflective thought, the tacit dimension, technical rationality, and the experiential learning cycle (Tsingos, Bosnic-Anticevich, & Smith, 2014).

  1. Reflective Thought - understanding how your thoughts make you feel, think, and act. Exploring the meaning of your thoughts will assist in enhanced critical decision making. Making an inference about your goals will lead into making more effective goals. If you want to improve your running but you do not enjoy running in the cold you would alter your goal by running indoors. This will allow you to meet your running goals and improve your motivation. Be curious!

  2. The Tacit Dimension - involves the use of one’s intuition to guide them to new discoveries for new insight and conclusions to be formed (Polanyi, 1967). When goal setting, using a shared experience to form meaning and awareness into your goal will assist in maintaining behavior change. Reflecting on your daily process will guide alternative suggestions or the goal. Know how to know why!

  3. Technical Rationality - incorporates your knowledge and skills that involve strategies to enhance learning while engaging in practice (Kinsella, 2007). When setting goals, create a schedule, write it down, and maintain your routine. Each day reflect on the day and reset your routine to match your needs. Adjust and Adapt!

  4. Experiential Learning Cycle - This model is a form of the reflective cycle that starts with the learning experience, followed by reflection that gives new conclusions to be drawn leaving room for active correction (Kolb, 1984). Our learning styles vary based on the demand of the goal. Reflecting on the process will lead you to your outcome. “Learning is the process whereby knowledge is created through the transformation of experience” (Kolb, 1984, p. 38). Process leads to Product!

Having a better understanding of the multiple ways of reflecting is a starting point for the use of reflective practices when developing your new year resolutions. Setting goals with intention, maintaining motivation, and reflecting on the process will lead to enhanced goal setting. The above concepts can turn a temporary New Year’s goal into a lifelong change through learning from previous experiences and modification. Let’s make 2018 a year full of accomplished goals! Happy New Year from us at TOPPS!


Kinsella, E. A. (2007). Technical rationality in Schön’s reflective practice: dichotomous or non-dualistic epistemological position. Nursing Philosophy, 8, 102–113. Retrieved from

Kolb, D. A. (1984). Experiential learning: Experience as the source of learning and development [E-reader version]. (pp. 20-38). Retrieved from

Polanyi, M. (1967). The Tacit Dimension [E-reader version]. (pp. 1-23). Retrieved from

Tsingos, C., Bosnic-Anticevich, S., & Smith, L. (2014). Reflective Practice and Its Implications for Pharmacy Education. American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education, 78(1), 18. Retrieved from

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