How To Conduct Your Personal Annual Year End Review

“The road of life twists and turns and no two directions are ever the same.
Yet our lessons come from the journey, not the destination.”
– Don Williams Jr.

As another year draws to a close, let’s take a look back to see how far you’ve come – and what you’ve learned along the way.

Today I’ll show you the exact process I use for taking stock of the past year

Don’t just read it though – I encourage you to join me and complete this short, 10 minute exercise with me.

Let’s take a look at where you’ve come, what you’ve accomplished – and use that to help plan where you want to go next year.

Conducting Your Year End Review

I like to do reviews based on what really happened this year.  It’s great to ask yourself how your year has been and how you feel – but we should also look at what really made a difference in your life this year.

Get ready to make some lists. You can write them by hand, or type them out.

I like to get three sheets of paper, and divide the first two sheets into 3×4 grids – one block per month.

Section 1: Your Accomplishments

Question #1: What obstacles have you overcome, and what have you accomplished?

Take your first sheet of paper, and look at the 4×3 Grid. At the top of the page, write “My Accomplishments” (and the year, if you like).

Think over your whole year – start in January, and consider month by month:

  • What you did
  • What you overcame
  • What real results you achieved in your life.

The reason I ask you to consider all these questions together is because frequently you may not realize how significant your accomplishments really are.

It’s not just about what you’ve done – it’s just as important to consider your life and how you got there.

And if you have accomplished something, or created something – you deserve to recognize it and give yourself credit for it.

Look over your list, and consider also:

  • What’s the most important item on this list?
  • What are the top 3?
  • What really sums up your year?

I like to mark the most important ones, the ones that stand out, with either a star or by circling them.

Section 2: What You Learned

Question #2: What did you learn, and how have you changed?

Take your second sheet of paper, and look at the 4×3 Grid. At the top of the page, write “My Lessons” (and the year, if you like).

Again, start in January and work forward.

This question seems to surprise me every year – and it might surprise you too.

While it sometimes feels like time has gone by so fast, and that perhaps you haven’t changed at all….when you take a moment to reflect on it you’ll realize you have learned and grown in ways you could have never imagined when the year began.

We are always aware of the big changes, or sudden lessons we learn from major life experiences – but think back to the small interactions you’ve had, and the small changes and tweaks you’ve made in your life based on the little lessons you’ve learned over time.

All those little experiences make you who you are – and give you the wisdom to make well informed life choices as you go forward.

Again, look over your list, and consider:

  • What’s the most important item on this list?
  • What are the top 3?
  • What really sums up your year?

Section 3: How You Feel

Questions #3: How satisfied are you?

Take your third sheet of paper, and freewrite a little bit based on the first two sheets. I like to go for 3-5 sentences in a paragraph or bullet points. At the top of the page, write “My Year In Review.”

After reviewing the lists you’ve put together, consider how satisfied you are.

And remember – don’t just consider the black and white of what you’ve accomplished.

For your personal growth its important to consider what you overcame, how you got there, and what you’ve learned along the way.

Ask yourself:

  • How has my year really gone? How do I feel about it?  How would I rate myself/my year?

How satisfied you are will help you answer this next, final question…

Section 4: What’s Next For You?

Question #4: What’s missing, and what’s next?

Still using the third sheet of paper, I now like to write just below my answer Question #3. You can write as a sub-heading “What’s Next In My Life.” Aim for a paragraph, 3-5 bullet points (or more if you like!). 

We’ve considered what you’ve overcome, accomplished, learned and how you you’ve changed – and with that we can now plan to go forward.

Now, ask yourself –

  • What’s missing for your list of things you’ve accomplished?
  • What were you unable to spend enough time on this year?
  • What big goals or dreams would you like to achieve next year?

Especially consider the obstacles you’ve overcome, as an indication of just how much you’re capable of.

Planning For Next Year

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end”
– Semisonic, Closing Time

After you complete this review, you’ll be left with some open questions, and things you want to achieve next year.

The end of this year comes with the beginning of another – and the promise of a fresh start, and more opportunities to accomplish your goals.

Make This Year Your Best Year

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