2020 has been absolutely bonkers, but with the year coming to a close and with a fresh new year on the horizon, I wanted to share my annual, year-end review, reflection, and goal-setting routine.

If you frequent my blog, you may notice that it’s gone a while without an update. Sorry about that!

I started 2020 by quitting a job I had for seven years. Then, I released my first best-selling book, Crush Your Goals!, started a new job, and began developing an online course. After that, I hired a personal coach, quit another job, and finally, started my own website development business: B&B Media.

It’s been nutty!

But this blog post isn’t about how crazy my 2020 has been. I think we’ve all had a wild ride this year.

No, this post is about the year-end review process I use to reflect, recenter, and plan for a new year ahead. It’s helped me maintain a high level of success, performance, and work/life balance for years, and it can help you do the same.

No matter how busy or overwhelming life can get, I never, ever skip out on my year-end review and planning session. It’s been incredibly valuable in my life, and people often ask me about my process. So, I wanted to take the time to dust off the blog and share my annual planning routine with you.

What is a Year-End Review, Anyway?

I think a year-end review can look different to various people. In the corporate and business world, a year-end review is a time for performance reviews, raises, and bonuses. Don’t worry; there’s no talk of boring performance reviews in this post.

For me, a year-end review is a time of reflection and planning. Usually, on the Sunday nearest the new year, I like to reconnect with my goals, accomplishments, significant events, and my fondest memories from the year gone by. This collection of memories often takes the form of a long bulleted list of 100 or more things. Some folks I know do this on their birthdays instead.

I also like to revisit my struggles or redirections from the past year. What didn’t go so well? What could have gone better, and how could I have approached things differently? How have I grown thanks to the events of the past year?

Lastly, I like to review my 3-5 year vision. What goals do I need to set in the new year ahead to help make my long term goals a reality?

If this sounds like too much to do, or perhaps sounds a little overwhelming, fear not. The process is actually pretty simple, straightforward, and fun. I’ll outline the step-by-step process in a moment, but first…

Who is a Year-End Review For?

Whether you’re brand new to goal setting, an experienced veteran, or somewhere in between, one thing is for sure: taking time to reflect on where you’ve been, what you’ve accomplished, and where you want to go is incredibly important.

But how do you get started? After all, a year is a long time, not just to reflect on, but to plan for.

How can you remember everything you’ve done this year? What were those goals we wrote down back in January? Did we try all the new things we wanted to try this year? (Note to self: I still need to book that sky-diving experience.)

As each year winds down and comes to a close, most of us suddenly begin thinking about the New Year, and often, our New Year’s Resolutions. Many of us look at this time as a time of renewal, whether that’s renewed energy, motivation, spirit, or something else.

Others look at this time as a bitter reminder of all those pesky resolutions we’ve forgotten about. Whoops! (Ready to ditch your old, tired resolutions? Grab a copy of Crush Your Goals! today.)

Some see the end of a year as a time to think about where their life is heading. Are we happy or unhappy? Are we playing it safe or taking bold action in our lives? Are we making time for the people we love, or are we keeping ourselves too busy to enjoy life?

The end of a year is naturally a time of reflection, but so few of us sit down and take time to reflect intentionally and check-in with ourselves. So, who is this post for?

This post is for anyone who wants to take time to reconnect with themselves in a deep and meaningful way and for anyone who’s looking to make the next year their best year yet.

My year-end review process is for anyone who wants to take stock of their accomplishments and shortfalls from the year so that they may build upon their success and improve upon their shortcomings in the fresh year ahead.

Many of the people I talk to can quickly point to their failures or shortcomings from the past year, but very few can list ten things (let alone 100+) that they’re incredibly proud or fond of.

That’s no way to go about life, my friends.

We need to celebrate our successes and accomplishments so that those things may fuel us forward into the brand new year ahead.

So, does that sound like something you want to do? If so, let’s dive in. I’m going to outline my year-end review process below, step-by-step. Ready? Let’s go!

Start with Your Planner or Journal

I firmly believe in the power of accomplishment. It’s one of life’s greatest sources of motivation. That’s why my year-end review starts with a review of my most significant achievements from the past year.

When we accomplish things on our to-do lists or crush a goal we’ve been pursuing, we receive a powerful surge of endorphins. But all too often, we don’t allow ourselves to feel this sense of pride and accomplishment, especially if we’re too busy.

On the Sunday nearest New Year’s Day, I sit down in my office and open up a blank Google Doc. Then, with a hot cup of coffee and my favorite pjs, I get out my quarterly Full Focus Planners from the past year, and I begin flipping through the pages.

In my planners’ daily pages, I record my daily Big Three goals, my daily wins, some things I’m grateful for, and I journal some thoughts and feelings I’ve had throughout the day. I do this every single day, so there’s a lot to sift through. Now, the goal isn’t to read all four of my planners word-for-word but rather to look for the highlights from the year.

Looking back, I ask myself:

  • What wins or successes am I most proud of?
  • Were there some events, ideas, or realizations that I journaled that serve as significant highlights from the year?
  • What goals and milestones did I achieve?
  • What happy memories or thoughts can I reflect on?
  • What new things did I try last year?

As I review my journals, I type my favorite highlights in a numbered list in the blank Google Doc I opened. However, I don’t just race through this process. The year-end review shouldn’t be about merely performing the process and moving on, but rather, taking the time to reflect and connect with your feelings around these experiences and memories.

As you enter things into your document, think about how you felt when you made the accomplishment or first created the memory. Allow yourself to feel those emotions again before moving onto the next highlight.

But what if I don’t have a journal or a planner?

Don’t worry. If you don’t currently have a planner to flip through, that’s okay. I have a couple of other methods for reflecting on your year, but before you read any further, jump over to Amazon and pick yourself up a daily planner or journal. It will serve you well in the year to come and will help you get the most of this process next year. Trust me; there’s no better time to start than now.

Review Your Social Media and Smartphone Photo Albums

Have you ever noticed that our Facebook, Instagram, and photo albums are like timelines of our life’s highlights?

After I’m done reviewing my quarterly planners, I turn to my Facebook timeline. I roll it back to the beginning of the year and start scrolling. Nearly every year that I do this, I discover an event or memory that I’ve almost forgotten about.

When this happens, I add the highlight to my Google Doc. In February of 2019, I went snowboarding for the first time, but by the time I sat down to perform my year-end review in December, I had totally forgotten about it. Crazy, right?

What a pleasant memory! Not to mention it was a bucket list item. Seeing that memory on my Facebook timeline brought back a surge of wonderful feelings.

How many things have you done this year that you’ve potentially forgotten about?

And our favorite live events aren’t just on our social media timelines, either. The photo app on my phone is like a vault full of memories, highlights, and accomplishments from the previous year. I’m sure yours is too, right?

Take some time to scroll through those photos and jot down your fondest moments and memories. Again, take time to reconnect with the feelings connected to those memories. Don’t just quickly scroll through so that you can move on.

Now that you’ve taken some time to reflect on your proudest moments from last year, how long is your list? 

If your list isn’t over 100 things yet, don’t worry. The first year I did this, my list wasn’t very long because I hadn’t kept good records throughout the year. (And I have a terrible memory.) Nowadays, the more I journal, jot down my daily wins, and photograph my life’s happiest moments, the longer my list seems to get, and yours will too.

When you focus on the good, the good gets better.

Revisit Your Goals from the Year

Okay, now that we’ve reflected on the past year’s events, let’s shift our focus to our goals.

If you’re new to goal setting, you may not have many written goals to revisit. That’s okay. For now, try to think back on your old resolutions or goals that you thought about but didn’t write down.

If you do write your goals down, get out your list. For me, everything is in my Full Focus Planners. With your goals in mind, ask yourself the following questions and reflect or journal the answers:

  • Which goals or milestones did I achieve, and how do I feel about my progress?
  • Did I abandon or drop any goals throughout the year? If so, what made me do so?
  • Which goals did I not achieve and why?

As you think about your goals, remember to think about the why behind each goal. Did you have a strong why for each of your goals? If so, is that why still burning within you? If not, perhaps it’s time to move onto a new goal or search for a stronger why for that goal.

As you think about your goals, it’s also important to think about your longer vision for your life. I talk about this in other blog posts (and in my book), but goals are even more powerful if they contribute to the future life you want to build for yourself.

But if you’re not entirely sure where you want your life to be in five years, that’s okay. Many people haven’t figured that out just yet. Life is a journey, not a destination. You can still be proud of the goals you’ve achieved this year, as well as set some extraordinary goals for the year ahead.

Setting New Goals for the Year Ahead

No year-end review session is complete without planning and setting your goals for the new year ahead. Remember, though, goals can change throughout the year, so planning your year shouldn’t be scary or intimidating.

We’re not pouring them in concrete or etching them in stone—we’re simply planning and plans can change. Take it from me, my goals and objectives changed quite a few times over the past year. I did quit two jobs, after all.

As you think about which goals to set for the next year, it might help to have access to Crush Your Goals! The Workbook. This workbook was designed to accompany my main book and usually costs $11.99, but because you’re reading this post, I want you to have a free, fillable PDF copy. (The paperback workbook is available on Amazon if you prefer a hands-on version.)

This workbook contains 29 guided, goal setting worksheets, templates, and self-assessments for maximizing your growth and performance. Trust me; if you’re sitting down to plan a year’s worth of goals, then this is a powerful tool to have on hand. 

Download it for free and get started planning, my friend.

That’s All, Folks

Hey, if you’re still reading, thanks for hanging in there! I know this is a long(ish) post, and there was a lot of info, but if you follow this year-end review process, you’ll find so much joy in the year gone by. Not to mention, you’ll have a solid plan for the new year ahead.

This process is pretty simple, but it can take time—several hours, depending on the person. If you’re anything like me, sitting at a desk while writing, reading, and planning for that amount of time can bring out my fidgety side. Don’t be afraid to take breaks. Get up and move around. Go for a walk.

This process is all about reflection, so you don’t have to stay stuck in your chair. Do whatever you need to do to enjoy the process. Please, don’t just fly through this process. The more time and energy you invest in your year-end review, the more you’re going to get out of it.

Okay, I hope you enjoyed this post. If you did, please consider leaving a comment or share it on your social media accounts. I believe this strategy provides tremendous value, and by sharing it, you’re helping to build our incredible community of Goal Getters.

Thanks for being here, and have a great year ahead! Remember, the next year of your life could be the best one yet, regardless of what day it is today. Don’t wait for New Year’s. Start today!

All the best,

Austin

Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. If you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

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