A Comprehensive Annual Review Process

Every year, I try to reflect on the previous year’s successes, failures, biggest risks taken, and biggest lessons learned. My annual review process has become quite extensive and is presented here in its entirety.

Every year, I try to reflect on the previous year’s successes, failures, biggest risks taken, and biggest lessons learned. My annual review process has become quite extensive, but the major questions I try to address are:

  1. Past: How did my previous year go?
  2. Present: How is my overall life satisfaction now?
  3. Future: Where do I want to go in the next year?

This Annual Review process is quite comprehensive and is broken into 5 days and 13 sections. It is best to not attempt to cram all of this into a single review session, but space it out over a number of days (as outlined) or multiple 1-2 hour sessions with a break in between.

A template to create your own annual review will be made available here later. And a more detailed description of much of this list can be found at my Korean language learning blog.

Day 1

1. Start with WHY
  1. WHY do you do what you do?
  2. WHY do you want what you want?
  3. WHY do you set the goals you set?
2. Overview your previous Year
  1. 10 Great things that happened last year
  2. 5 Lessons learned (or repeated themes)
  3. Any regrets? (something you wish you did, or did more of)

(Optional) Review your statistics

  1. List all books you read – and length
  2. List any courses you studied – and length
  3. List any new projects completed (and skills / things you learned)
  4. List any exercise you can track
  5. List any money you can track
  6. List any contributions you made (money, code, service, etc)
3. Detail your previous Year
  1. Smartest decision last year
  2. Most loving service
  3. Most happy with finishing
  4. 3 people who impacted my life the most
  5. Biggest risk taken
  6. Most improved important relationship
  7. Compliment (or opportunity) I wish to have received
  8. Gratitude list: What are you most thankful for in your life now?
  9. ONE word summary of the year

Day 2

4. Rate your Life Satisfaction NOW

Give yourself a rating 1-10 for your satisfaction with each of the following. Then, write down at least one goal for each.

  1. Physical life / health
  2. Mental life / personal development / learning / growth
  3. Spiritual life
  4. Lifestyle
  5. Career / job
  6. Financial satisfaction / health
  7. Family
  8. Social (friend) relationships
5. Look Forward
  1. What 3 things must STOP in the next year?
  2. What 3 things must START?
  3. Where are 3 places you must STAY (though hard)?
  4. Where are 3 places you must LEAVE (though hard)?
  5. Where are 3 places you must SERVE (though hard)?
  6. How are 3 ways you need to CONNECT with others more?
  7. How are 3 ways you need to TRUST others more?
6. Look far Forward (beyond next Year)

Consider your ultimate destination(s) in life – beyond next year.

  1. Where do you want to be in life in 2 years?
  2. In 5 years?
  3. In 10 years?
  4. In 20 years?
  5. Before the end?
  6. Create a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) that seems out of reach now, but could be accomplished with enough focused effort.

Day 3

7. Define Success

Define your Level 50. What does Success or Greatness look like for you?

  1. What are all the things you want to HAVE in life?
  2. What are all the things you want to DO in life?
  3. What are all the things you want to BE in life?
8. Design your next Year (Set Goals)
  1. From your list of goals in Part 5, reduce that to only 3 Major Goals to focus on for the next year (or quarter).
  2. Decide upon 3 Action Steps for each Major Goal to take immediately to make progress toward that goal
  3. Decide upon a Deadline for (at least Phase One of) each goal
  4. Consider if anyone can keep you accountable and write that person’s name next to your Major Goal
  5. For each Major Goal, create a Habit (see Part 9) to help get there
9. Become the Change you Seek

What kind of person can achieve what you’ve written down? Brainstorm for a while and write a short paragraph for each.

  1. What kind of person would achieve my Physical goals?
  2. What kind of person would achieve my Mental goals?
  3. What kind of person would achieve my Spiritual goals?
  4. What kind of person would achieve my Lifestyle goals?
  5. What kind of person would achieve my Career goals?
  6. What kind of person would achieve my Financial goals?
  7. What kind of person would achieve my Family goals?
  8. What kind of person would achieve my Social goals?

Can you find any recurring patterns or themes? Write these out as a series of Affirmations to repeat for the next year.


Day 4

10. Schedule it

Start with the Big rocks on your calendar.

  1. The Year: What major events or commitments for the next Year can you immediately mark on the calendar?
  2. The next Quarter: More specifically, is there anything coming up in the next 3 months you need to make a note of?
  3. This month: What specifically would you like to accomplish this month – particularly as it relates to Major Goals and Action Steps?
  4. Ideal week: In a Spreadsheet or paper grid, block off your weekly commitments and anywhere you’d like to include your new Habits.

When blocking out your Ideal schedule, also consider the following Time Blocks:

  1. Buffer Block (30 min x 2 / day) : to take care of unplanned interruptions
  2. Strategic Block (3 hrs / week) : focused time, where you make progress toward your goals
  3. Breakout Block (3 hrs / month) : to get out and rejuvenate yourself physically, mentally, and emotionally
11. Create the Habits to get you there

For (at least) each of your Major Goals in Part 8, determine how you can create a Habit for it. (You may also consider making or breaking Habits for some of the things you listed in Part 5.)

Make a Good Habit

  1. Cue: Make it obvious
  2. Craving: Make it attractive
  3. Routine: Make it easy
  4. Reward: Make it satisfying

Break a Bad Habit

  1. Cue: Make it invisible
  2. Craving: Make it ugly
  3. Routine: Make it difficult
  4. Reward: Make it empty
12. Track your progress

That which gets measured gets accomplished.

Proverb

Determine how you will Track your progress daily, weekly, or monthly. There are apps that can help you by keeping track of certain things automatically. For other things, use paper.

  1. How will I track Physical progress / goals?
  2. How will I track Mental progress / goals?
  3. How will I track Spiritual progress / goals?
  4. How will I track Lifestyle progress / goals?
  5. How will I track Career progress / goals?
  6. How will I track Financial progress / goals?
  7. How will I track Family progress / goals?
  8. How will I track Social progress / goals?
  9. At what time of day will I sit down to track one or more of these?
  10. Which day of the week will I track and review my weekly progress and preview or prepare myself for the week to come.
  11. After how many weeks or months will I sit down to do a comprehensive review of my progress and redirect my steps toward the next span of time. (Personally, I prefer Quarters – about four times per year, with three months between each.)

Day 5

13. Prepare yourself

At the end of a long week of reflection and planning, the final step is to prepare for the next burst of energy. You want to make everything as streamlined and smooth as possible so that you can hit the ground running with your new Habits and Goals.

  1. What NEW things do you need? (Tracking apps, new clothes, etc)
  2. What OLD things need to be thrown away? (Distractions, etc)
  3. What MILESTONES do you need to prepare for along the way?

Well, there you have it. A very intense and comprehensive Annual Review process to help you prepare for the next step in life. For me, the times I’ve taken to be alone and reflect and plan like this have been literally life-changing. It is a long process, but if you do it well and stick to your plan, it’ll make a big difference in the upcoming weeks and months.

Plan your work. But don’t forget to work your plan.

Proverb

Resources

Some books I’ve read that helped me learn and incorporate some of these principles into my Annual Review are as follows (affiliate links).

  1. The Compound Effect by Darren Hardy
  2. Design your Best Year Ever by Darren Hardy
  3. Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt
  4. The 12-Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington
  5. The 12-Week Year Field Guide by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington
  6. Atomic Habits by James Clear

From Delinquent to Star Student

When I was in university, I was a lackluster student. But when I went to grad school (and afterward), I became a high achiever – even so far as receiving the top award in my graduating class (like “valedictorian”). So what changed between then and now? This presentation breaks down my own journey from boredom to motivation – and focuses on how to apply those things to second language learning.

My journey toward second-language learning motivation

Abstract

How do you teach students English? What if you didn’t have to teach them? What if they were motivated to learn on their own? This presentation will consider the psychology of motivation as it relates to second language learning. There are many elements that combine to give us (or our students) success in second language learning. We will look at:

  1. The difference between Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivation
  2. Breaking out of your Comfort Zone and finding your Passion
  3. Neurological Cravings, Habit Loops, and Behavior Reinforcing Rewards
  4. The difference between Progress and Perfection
  5. How to stick to your Schedule by reducing your Scope
  6. How to be a better Teacher by being Taught

I hope to be able to give much good food for thought as well as some practical tips and suggestions to put into practice TODAY. Some of these suggestions may appear to be quite radical, but other suggestions will give very actionable steps for creating Habits, increasing Passion, and sticking to a Schedule.


Overview

I hope this talk will be helpful for 3 areas of your life:

  1. Your teaching
  2. Your professional life
  3. Your personal life

Personally, I’m incredibly interested in the following, and have incorporated much of what I’ve learned into this talk.

  1. Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation
  2. Your Comfort Zone vs. your Passion
  3. Neurological Cravings & Habit Loops
  4. Progress over Perfection
  5. Schedule over Scope
  6. The fact that Good Teachers are Good Learners

I’ll go over 3 things:

  1. My story
  2. How I got here
  3. What you can do

My Story

In 2012, I created a Korean language learning blog with two motivations:

  1. (External motivation) To supplement my wife’s Korean tutoring classes
  2. (Internal motivation) To motivate myself to become fluent in Korean

For the first year, there was no growth at all. But in Year Two, I changed my habits and began writing a new Post every single day (now over 400 Posts). After that point, the site saw steady growth, and has been viewed more than 100,000 total times.

But let me now paint you a different picture.

University of Wyoming

As an undergrad at the University of Wyoming, I was a lackluster student at best, earning less than a 2.5 GPA and losing my scholarship in my second semester. I went from a 4.0 in high school, to a 2.3 my second semester, back up to a 3.186 by the end of my university life. I had 3 Fs (retakes) and 1 D in a major class.

Full Sail University

But when I went to grad school at Full Sail, 4 years after my lackluster undergrad career, things were very different. 

  • Change of Motivation =
  • Change of Attitude = 
  • Change of Behavior

I was newly married, with a baby on the way, and suddenly had to provide for more than just myself. That proved to be a real kick in the pants for me – and I worked hard enough to take home the Top Achiever award (valedictorian) in my graduating class.

How I Got Here

I’ve found that Success = Motivation + Habits – like two sides of the same coin – and without both, you don’t get the prize.

On Motivation

Daniel Pink’s book Drive dives deeply into motivation:

  1. Motivation 1.0 = primal / survival instincts
  2. Motivation 2.0 = carrots (rewards) & sticks (punishments)
  3. Motivation 3.0 = intrinsic vs. extrinsic (and this is the one we’re interested in)

Intrinsic Motivation examples

  • Learning an instrument
  • Open source software
  • Online forums
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Learning a language (for joy, for yourself)

Extrinsic Motivation examples

  • A “day job”
  • Bonuses & Commissions
  • $$$
  • Standardized testing
  • Learning a language (being forced to)

Difference in motivation

  • Extrinsic motivation focuses on:
    • Reward 
    • Punishment
  • Intrinsic motivation provides:
    • Autonomy
    • Mastery
    • Purpose

Here are some good books that discuss each:

  1. Autonomy
    1. Results Only Work Environment – focusing on the Task, Time, Team, and Technique is more important than just coming in to the office every day and “putting in the hours”
  2. Mastery
    1. Outliers hits on many examples
    2. Flow details the state of mind high-performers get in when “mastering” something, or performing at their highest level
  3. Purpose
    1. The Purpose Economy – one quote states ““What brings meaning to a job is not the job itself, but what we bring to it.

Personally, I never really started changing my attitude until I “read” Josh Kaufman’s Personal MBA. In it, he discusses a getting out of your Comfort Zone:

  • Reference Levels (getting out of our Comfort Zones)
    • What’s your “acceptable range”?
    • What’s your “minimum set point”?
    • What’s your “maximum set / pain point”?
    • Are you experiencing any Errors in your mind?
    • If so, “something has to change.”

On Habits

We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.

Will Durant

The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg covers the three (4) steps in habit loops and formation and how to break a bad habit:

  1. Trigger (cue)
  2. Routine (behavior)
  3. Reward (satisfaction)
  4. Craving (underlying motivation)

Remake a habit:

  1. Determine your Craving
  2. Identify your Trigger
  3. Change the Routine
  4. Maintain the Reward

Form a new habit:

  1. Determine your Passion (Start with Why)
  2. Create a Trigger
  3. Decide upon a Routine
  4. Reward yourself

In creating new habits or breaking old ones, we should remember the following:

  1. Strive for Progress not Perfection
  2. Reduce Scope in favor of Schedule (don’t break the chain)
  3. Habits compound

“The truth about success is as simple as this:
Not 5,000 things
A half-dozen things done 5,000 times.”

Darren Hardy in The Compound Effect

What you can do

Motivation in the classroom

9 ideas from Dan Pink’s Drive:

  1. Apply the 3-Part Type-I Test
    1. Am I offering students AUTONOMY over the when and how of this work?
    2. Does this task promote MASTERY by offering something novel and engaging (as opposed to rote reformulation)?
    3. Do my students understand the PURPOSE? The “Big Picture” of this assignment in the class?
  2. Have a “FedEx Day” – overnight delivery
  3. Try DIY Report Cards
    1. Students write down learning goals at the beginning of the semester
    2. Students write their own report cards and a 1-2 paragraph assessment of their progress at the end
    3. Then, show the teacher’s report card and discuss how they are doing on their path toward MASTERY
  4. Stop offering “If-Then” Rewards – make them “Now-That”
  5. Offer Praise…The Right Way
    1. Praise effort and strategy, not intelligence
    2. Make praise specific (no generalities)
    3. Praise in private (no award ceremonies)
    4. Offer praise only when there’s good reason (be sincere)
  6. Help the see the “Big Picture”
    1. Kids think: Why am I learning this? How is it relevant to my world?
      1. Reading
      2. Writing
      3. Arithmetic
      4. Relevance
  7. Investigate Type-I Schools
    1. Big Picture Learning
    2. Sudbury Valley School
    3. The Tinkering School
    4. Puget Sound Community School
    5. Montessori Schools
      (Children have natural curiosity & innate desire to learn)
  8. Learn from the “Unschoolers”
    1. They promote autonomy by allowing youngsters to decide what they learn and how they learn it. They encourage mastery by allowing children to spend as long as they’d like and to go as deep as they desire on the topics that interest them.
  9. Turn Students into Teachers – that’s what I’ve done with Key to Korean (Want to learn something? Teach it!)

Habits in the classroom

  1. The truth about Grading
    1. Let students know that their Habits are a big determiner in their Final grades.
    2. “I never saw a student on a smartphone get an A in my class.”
  2. Help Them Create Good Study Habits
  3. Teach them the Power of:
    1. Daily Habits
    2. Consistency
    3. Momentum
    4. The Compound Effect

Educate yourself

I’ve presented numerous resources throughout this talk. And I’ve asserted that the best teachers are good learners. Here are some tips for you to become better learners yourselves:

  1. Want to read more?
    1. Listen to podcasts
    2. “Read” books with Audible.com
  2. Learn some Korean
    1. Empathize with your students
    2. Understand WHY students continually make the same kinds of mistakes
    3. Anticipate student mistakes before them make them (and address them)
    4. Being a student makes you a better teacher
    5. Check student understanding of vocab & grammar
    6. It will increase their interest in YOUR language

Thank you!


Resources mentioned in this talk

The links out to books I mentioned in this talk are Amazon affiliate links, so I will get a small commission if you click them and purchase something. That being said, here is everything I mentioned above:

Bio

Aaron Snowberger is an English professor at Jeonju University and the creator of keytokorean.com, a Korean language learning blog that focuses primarily on Motivation. He has lived and worked in Korea since 2006, and has taught TOEFL, Debate, Computer Literacy, and Website Programming along with the usual blend of Conversational English classes.

Aaron earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from the University of Wyoming (USA) in 2006, and a Master of Fine Arts in Media Design from Full Sail University (USA) in 2011. His primary interests include web programming, Internet business and marketing, branding, print design, leadership, psychology, and the Korean language.