Eager to charge into the New Year with your goals and resolutions? Before you do, why not take a moment to step back and reflect on what you learned in the past year -- it's the best way to avoid making the same mistakes and to fully leverage the experience you’ve gained. I'll go first, with a few of the key lessons I took away in 2007:

1. There’s no such thing as public speaking. Most people, as Seinfield said, referring to the widespread fear of speaking in public, would “rather be in the coffin than delivering the eulogy.” I was one of them until I had a few sessions with a speech coach and learned the formula for effective speaking: 1) Forget you’re speaking to a group. 2) Make direct eye contact with one individual at a time and maintain it until you’ve fully completed each thought or phrase. 3) If you’re not looking at someone, you shouldn’t be speaking!

2. You can endow people with the qualities you want them to have. Often, in our interactions with people, we anticipate their negative reactions – “They’re not going to be interested in what I have to say,” or “He’s going to be upset when he hears the news.” Instead, why not endow them with the mindset that you’d like them to have, say, enthusiasm, curiosity or sympathy. It works whether you’re delivering a presentation, having a difficult conversation with a colleague or calling to dispute a charge on your credit card statement – try it!

3. Networking is fun. In June, my business mentor suggested that I join BNI, a networking group that meets every week for breakfast at 7:00 a.m. Getting up at dawn and networking - gee, two of my least favorite activities! But this is not the typical "meet 20 people in 15 minutes" kind of networking. Rather, the structured format of these early-morning, sit-down meetings provides a great opportunity to build relationships with other entrepreneurs as well as a safe environment to experiment with one's marketing message - and they're now one of the highlights of my week.

4. The worst-case scenario is rarely fatal. In August, I entered a national amateurs piano competition in Colorado. On stage in the first round, playing a short Shostakovich prelude, I experienced what is probably the worst nightmare for any performer: my mind went blank and I couldn’t remember what came next or how the piece ended. After some excruciating silence and dissonant fumbling, I stopped. At that point, I wanted nothing more than to slink off stage and leave town immediately. Instead, I stayed and played the second piece and – wonder of wonders – advanced to the semi-finals.

5. Airline personnel are human (who knew?!). I flew international flights to Asia three times this fall and, on every single leg, I was able to change my assigned seat to one in the coveted exit row (you know, the one at the front of the cabin that doesn’t have the seat in front jammed up under your chin). How did I do it? I was polite and respectful, played to the agent’s sympathy (“It’s such a long flight”) and thanked them profusely and genuinely. (Obvious as it seems, it’s apparently not such a common approach!)

6. Knowledge may be dormant but it’s not lost. When I left Japan in 1994 after living there for seven years, I was quite fluent in Japanese. Living in the US for over twelve years, however, I’d had little opportunity to speak the language and often wondered if, after all the time and energy I’d put into learning it, I was going to forget it all. So, recently, back in Tokyo for a corporate coaching gig, I was amazed and relieved how quickly I regained my fluency – pulling long unused vocabulary and obscure conjugations out of thin air. The experience reassured me that, though our hard-earned knowledge may be seemingly lost, it’s actually there, like a forgotten folder buried deep inside a computer’s hard drive, waiting to be retrieved and revived.

So even though 2007 is now part of the past, take a moment to celebrate your achievements and lessons learned in the past year and use them to springboard your goals in 2008.

Author's Bio: 

Peak performance specialist Renita T. Kalhorn is a Juilliard-trained classical pianist with an international MBA and a first-degree martial arts black belt. Leveraging the power of “flow,” she helps entrepreneurs and corporate professionals to achieve extreme focus and reach the top of their game at work. Subscribe to In The Flow, her FREE monthly newsletter and receive a complimentary copy of Find Your Flow! 21 Simple Strategies to Banish Tedium, Reduce Stress and Inspire Action at www.intheflowcoaching.com