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:
- Past: How did my previous year go?
- Present: How is my overall life satisfaction now?
- 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.
1. Start with WHY
- WHY do you do what you do?
- WHY do you want what you want?
- WHY do you set the goals you set?
2. Overview your previous Year
- 10 Great things that happened last year
- 5 Lessons learned (or repeated themes)
- Any regrets? (something you wish you did, or did more of)
(Optional) Review your statistics
- List all books you read – and length
- List any courses you studied – and length
- List any new projects completed (and skills / things you learned)
- List any exercise you can track
- List any money you can track
- List any contributions you made (money, code, service, etc)
3. Detail your previous Year
- Smartest decision last year
- Most loving service
- Most happy with finishing
- 3 people who impacted my life the most
- Biggest risk taken
- Most improved important relationship
- Compliment (or opportunity) I wish to have received
- Gratitude list: What are you most thankful for in your life now?
- ONE word summary of the year
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.
- Physical life / health
- Mental life / personal development / learning / growth
- Spiritual life
- Career / job
- Financial satisfaction / health
- Social (friend) relationships
5. Look Forward
- What 3 things must STOP in the next year?
- What 3 things must START?
- Where are 3 places you must STAY (though hard)?
- Where are 3 places you must LEAVE (though hard)?
- Where are 3 places you must SERVE (though hard)?
- How are 3 ways you need to CONNECT with others more?
- 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.
- Where do you want to be in life in 2 years?
- In 5 years?
- In 10 years?
- In 20 years?
- Before the end?
- Create a BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goal) that seems out of reach now, but could be accomplished with enough focused effort.
7. Define Success
Define your Level 50. What does Success or Greatness look like for you?
- What are all the things you want to HAVE in life?
- What are all the things you want to DO in life?
- What are all the things you want to BE in life?
8. Design your next Year (Set Goals)
- From your list of goals in Part 5, reduce that to only 3 Major Goals to focus on for the next year (or quarter).
- Decide upon 3 Action Steps for each Major Goal to take immediately to make progress toward that goal
- Decide upon a Deadline for (at least Phase One of) each goal
- Consider if anyone can keep you accountable and write that person’s name next to your Major Goal
- 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.
- What kind of person would achieve my Physical goals?
- What kind of person would achieve my Mental goals?
- What kind of person would achieve my Spiritual goals?
- What kind of person would achieve my Lifestyle goals?
- What kind of person would achieve my Career goals?
- What kind of person would achieve my Financial goals?
- What kind of person would achieve my Family goals?
- 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.
10. Schedule it
Start with the Big rocks on your calendar.
- The Year: What major events or commitments for the next Year can you immediately mark on the calendar?
- The next Quarter: More specifically, is there anything coming up in the next 3 months you need to make a note of?
- This month: What specifically would you like to accomplish this month – particularly as it relates to Major Goals and Action Steps?
- 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:
- Buffer Block (30 min x 2 / day) : to take care of unplanned interruptions
- Strategic Block (3 hrs / week) : focused time, where you make progress toward your goals
- 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
- Cue: Make it obvious
- Craving: Make it attractive
- Routine: Make it easy
- Reward: Make it satisfying
Break a Bad Habit
- Cue: Make it invisible
- Craving: Make it ugly
- Routine: Make it difficult
- 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.
- How will I track Physical progress / goals?
- How will I track Mental progress / goals?
- How will I track Spiritual progress / goals?
- How will I track Lifestyle progress / goals?
- How will I track Career progress / goals?
- How will I track Financial progress / goals?
- How will I track Family progress / goals?
- How will I track Social progress / goals?
- At what time of day will I sit down to track one or more of these?
- Which day of the week will I track and review my weekly progress and preview or prepare myself for the week to come.
- 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.)
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.
- What NEW things do you need? (Tracking apps, new clothes, etc)
- What OLD things need to be thrown away? (Distractions, etc)
- 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
Some books I’ve read that helped me learn and incorporate some of these principles into my Annual Review are as follows (affiliate links).