how to do a yearly review (1/4)

Before we march unconsciously into the next year and this time, there’s a whole new decade waiting for us, it’s important that we look back at the year we just finished. And of course, along with taking the inventory, adding everything up and seeing how we did in the last year, it also makes sense to do the same for the 2010s decade as we say goodbye to it. 

First things first, we need to understand the importance of doing a yearly review. Let’s get to the basics. History often repeats itself. Patterns don’t change easily over time. If you quit your first workout regime, there’s a high chance you’ll not stick to the next one as well. The intimacy problems from your previous relationship will come up in your next relationship as well. Your reckless spending habits will likely surface in the coming year. So, how do you fight the currents and avoid making the same mistakes? The answer is simple: by taking into account your past successes and failures, and learning from them.

As George Santayana put it, “Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

Now is the best time to examine our past successes and failures under the microscope. 

What were your major accomplishments? Where did you come up short? What things worked and what didn’t? What decisions ended up being the best ones, and which were bad? 

It’s good to distill all the learnings and make a note of them. As my mentor, Darren Hardy says, “It’s important to learn the lessons of life quickly or you will be apt to repeat them. The smack in the head gets harder, and tuition for the lesson gets steeper each time. So it’s better (and less painful!) to learn each lesson the first time.”

Here’s a quick and useful tip. When you do your yearly review, keep last year’s calendar, social media posts, the online cloud service that you use for photo storage or the photos on your phone, and any photo albums for special occasions handy and near you to help you jog through the memory lane and acknowledge all the events and activities of the past year.

We will review the entire year, so go ahead and put your thinking cap. Here are some prompts for you to perform the end of year review:

  • 10 greatest happenings from last year.
  • Three accomplishments that I am proud of from last year.
  • Three biggest lessons I learned in the past year.
  • Three skills or virtues I developed in the past year.
  • What influences (books, people, ideas, products, other things) had the greatest impact on me in the last year?
  • The best decision I made last year.
  • The biggest risk I took last year.
  • In what ways did I invest in my relationships?
  • If I could go back and start over, three things I would do differently last year. 
  • Three things I need to do less of in the next year.
  • Three things I need to do more of in the next year.
  • Three behaviors or habits I need to get rid of in the next year.
  • One word that best sums up last year’s experience.

Keep in mind that there are no right or wrong answers. Write what feels right to you. So, just jot down your honest responses.