As we approach New Year, we may find ourselves reflecting on what we have achieved in the past 12 months.

For children, a calendar year can seem like a lifetime, whereas sadly, as you grow older, they seem to come and go much faster.

So at a time like this when we do a little reflecting, it is worth considering what advice we would give to others from our own experiences of life.

In one of my end-of-year assemblies before the Christmas holidays began, I offered this advice to the school:

"As we come to the end of another calendar year, it is important that we take some time to reflect, but not dwell on the past.

Reflect so that we may learn from the past and to enable us to have a better present and future.

The past year will have brought successes and failures for all of us.

The past year may have been awful or it may have been wonderful, but it is important to let it go and live in the present.

If things haven’t gone well in the past year, then let’s be clear, you can’t go back and put it right. We’ve all made bad decisions in the past that we regret. What you can do is resolve not to make them again. That’s all anyone can ask of us.

If the year went particularly well, then grow from your successes.

Don’t hanker after your past glory, put your energy into finding a different type of good time right now.

So, try not to dwell on the past. Try not to have regrets.

Treat the past as learning experiences from which we evolve and become better people."

One of the pleasures of being a headmaster is spending time speaking with parents and pupils and one thing seems to be a constant with the parents of the pupils in my school as I suspect it is with all parents, they all want their children to be happy and fulfilled.

So it may seem apt to offer some advice to parents to pass on to their children:

1. Have a direction, not a plan. Too many young people think they have to have their life mapped out in advance. Not only do most not have to, but it can be over-restrictive if you do. And what do you do if it goes wrong? My life certainly took some unexpected twists and has probably been more interesting for it.

2. Learning is continuous. Bill Gates reads 50 books a year. Keep your mind active and well exercised and Christmas is the perfect time to settle into the sofa with a good book!

3. Ask if you don’t understand (nobody minds). Ask even if you do understand, it shows a sense of humility.

4. It’s okay to make mistakes. Learn to look back regularly and face up to them. None of us are perfect and when we stop learning from mistakes we become very unattractive.

5. Be proud, be humble, and be altruistic.

6. Know who to go to. Networking is a good skill. And say thank you. Every time.

7. Listen if you want to learn; understand non-verbal communication and pause before speaking.

8. Stay cool in a crisis, your thinking will be far more productive.

9. Keep your sense of humour, if you don’t like what you do then don’t do it.

10. Love what you do, respect those around you and reflect on humanity as often as possible so as to develop a real understanding of how to live.

Enjoy the new year!