The Power of the Simple End of the Year Review

Image by Atli Harðarson (license).

At the end of the year I sit down and I take a look at my year.

I do it because it helps me to see the good things I did and that happened during the year. I do it because it helps me to find what did not go so well, to find what is important to focus on improving next year, to see in what ways I want to grow and to locate the habits I want to replace or add to my life.

And I do it because it is usually fun, very interesting and gives me an inspiring start to the next year.

First insights

So what I do is I sit down on my chair. I open an empty Word-document on my computer.

I like to keep things simple so I write down these two questions:

What went well?
What did not go so well?

I simply ask myself these questions one at a time and see what first insights pop up in my mind.

This year some examples were:

  • It was a good year for my business. The number of readers of the newsletter and the blog went up quite a bit and so did the income from my business.
  • It was a mediocre year for my fitness. I maintained my strength and aerobic capacity through exercise. But I didn’t grow in this area and I put in little time for most of the year. I didn’t really step things up until the end of the year when I started to lift heavier free weights and got back to doing at least 3 workouts per week.
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Break it down

After my first insights I apply the two questions to some important areas in my life such as:

  • Health and fitness.
  • Relationships.
  • The business.
  • My personal growth during the year (habits added or neglected, improvements made, new areas of life explored etc).

Find and use categories that make sense in your life.

You may want to break things down even further and go over smaller sections of for example your relationships for like the ones you have with a partner, with friends and with co-workers. I usually do that in some areas.

The most common mistake I made with my insights

All of this gives me key insights about my life right now. So how does one use these insights?

Well, don’t do what I used to do and many people do: try to improve everything or many things at once next year.

Instead, look at the insights you got. Ask yourself: what are the most important ones for me? What are the ones that are most important for me to work on and will give me the biggest positive effect during next year?

Then just work on one habit or small area at a time. You have 12 months next year and if you take it in small steps you are far more likely to create changes that stick than if you try to cram everything into January. That just leads to overwhelm and habits not sticking.

I will, for example, spend January with getting back to journaling for at least 5 minutes one day per week. Journaling was something I used to do but it fell by the wayside.

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I want to get back into it in small steps in 2013. Journaling will help me to focus on the essential. It will help me to review more closely how each week has gone both in my business and personally and it will help me to adapt more quickly and get more of the truly most important things done during next year.

Get the ball rolling today

If you have the time, then sit down for just 5 minutes today and get started with your end of the year review.

You don’t have to get it all done today. But by taking that first step right away you make it a lot more likely that you will follow through and complete this exercise. Or you’ll at least gain a few key insights about your life and how you want to grow during next year.

Happy New Year and I’ll see you in 2013!