Why I Do Year End Reviews (And 6 Important Questions To Ask Yourself in Your Review)

End of Year Reflections

(Written and published on Dec 22, 2010)

Merry Christmas everyone! The year end is coming, and in a week’s time it’ll be 2011! 😀 Are you ready for the new year? Are you ready for a year of excitement and new challenges?

Before we move on to the new year, it’s high time for all of us to do a review for the year. Regular readers would know that I do a review every year at PE. It has become an annual affair now, one which I look forward to in excitement. 😀 I first started the practice of doing annual reviews several years ago, and today I do it both on a personal level as well as with my 1-1 coaching clients.

To me, doing this annual review is like getting a report card. I remember when I was back in school, I would be excited when it was time to get our results back, especially when I had prepared for the exams and gave them my all. It’s no different with my annual review – except these results aren’t for my studies – they’re bigger. They’re for my life.

In today’s post, I want all of you to do your year end review for 2010 and share it in the comments area. I’ll be sharing mine shortly in a blog post later this week, after everyone does theirs.

Importance of Year End Reviews

So why is it important to do a year end review? There are 4 simple reasons:

1. Draw lessons from the year

What have you experienced this year? What have you learned from them? With every experience we face, there are important things to learn. We can either let these incidences pass us by, or we can stop to understand, internalize them, and draw lessons from them. Life is your school, and the lessons are dressed up as your everyday incidences. You don’t want to be living year after year without learning from your experiences. That’s just sleepwalking your life away.

There are a lot of lessons which I learn every year. Looking back at my review for 2007, one of the biggest lessons I learned is that our reactions to life’s situations is a choice, and it’s up to how we make out of situations we encounter. This realization came after a highly intense period at my job. At that time I was already a positive person, but the situation was so out of control that it really made me negative. It was after a short period of feeling miserable that I realized that the reality was such and it was up to me to make the best out of it. I could either sit and bitch about it which would do absolutely nothing to change the situation, or I could take action and make the best out of it. This small shift in my mindset created a big shift in my reality – it made me a lot more proactive and solution-oriented. It made me realize that many of us generate unnecessary baggage with negative situations in life, and it’s all about taking action to create the lives that we want. Happiness is truly a choice.

Because I would write down lessons I learned each time (in my life handbook), I could then build upon my lessons. Rather than deja vuing through life situations, every time I would think about how I could apply what I had learned earlier and how I could do something different. As a result, I kept moving forward in my growth.

2. Wrap up what you’ve done this year

Many things can happen in a year and this is the perfect time to wrap them up. Were there any ups and downs? Did you get a promotion? Did you recently quit your job and joined a new workplace? Did you just start up a business? Did you move to a new place? Did you just end an unhappy relationship? Did you move on from a bad partnership? Any major events took place? Or perhaps there are nothing significant that happened?

This is the time to wrap up the year. It’s time to let go of past baggage, tie up the loose ends, tidy up your feelings, and get ready for what’s ahead.

3. Regain focus

After working for a few years, you’d find that the years sort of just start to blend into each other. Soon it’s hard to tell one year apart from the next. Subsequently, it’s so easy to fall into a routine without being conscious of it. Sometimes I hear people commenting that they’re not sure what exactly they’ve been doing with the past few years of their lives, because everything just seems like the same.

It’s just like driving. When you’re driving in a car, it can be hard to see where you are and where you’re heading to. On the other hand, pausing for a short moment to look at the map can be amazingly helpful. Where are you right now? How far have you traveled? Where do you want to go to? Doing so helps you to regain focus.

Like I mentioned above, doing my annual review is like getting the report card for my life. How do I grade myself for this year? Do I give myself an A+? A? B? C? D? or even F? This assessment reminds me if I have lived this year the way I had wanted to.

4. Start the next year on a high note

Last but not least, your annual review will help you to start the next year on a high note. As I’m going to share later in the post, doing your review includes setting your goals for the next year. For this year 2010, my one single biggest goal was to build PE. I had many other goals, but they were secondary to building the blog. So this year, while other people were figuring out what to make out of their year, I was a person on a mission. By mid-year I had already exceeded some of my goals, and now that it’s the end of the year, I’ve accomplished what I had set out to do at the beginning, and more.

Exercise: Write Your Year End Review for 2010

Let’s get started on your year end review for this year!

Take out your life handbook, or if you don’t have your life handbook, take out any notebook or blank piece of paper. If you have a blog, you can copy the questions and answer them in your blog entry.

Set aside some quiet time with yourself, for 30-45 minutes or so. Now, write your answers to the following 6 questions:

  1. What are your biggest accomplishments this year? (Accomplishments here refer to any results you are proud of)
  2. What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned this year?
  3. On a scale of 1-10, how satisfied are you with how you spent the year? (Or if you prefer giving grades, what grade would you give yourself for how this year turned out, between F- to A+?) Why?
  4. What do you want to accomplish next year, such that it’s your best year ever? Alternatively:
    • If it’s now Dec 31 of next year, what do you want to see in your life?
    • What does it take to make you feel a 10/10 satisfaction level at the end of next year?
  5. What new habits can you cultivate that will help you to achieve your goals stated in question 4?
  6. What are your immediate next steps to achieve these goals?

Take as much time as you need to write your review. These are the very same questions I use for my personal review every year, so I’ve no doubt that you’ll find them useful in yours.

If you want, you can get started with questions 1-3 first, which are more reflection questions for the year. Spend a couple of days to think about them, before moving to questions 4-6, which are about the year ahead.

Also, add in a recurring event in your calendar every year from 27 Dec to 31 Dec, called “Yearly Review”. Bookmark this page so you can refer to it at the end of every year. This will remind you to do your year end reviews.

Share Your Year End Review

How was your review for 2010? What are your biggest accomplishments for this year that you’re most proud of? What are your biggest lessons for the year? What score did you give yourself for this year? What do you want to accomplish next year? Share with all of us here! Feel free to share whatever you’re comfortable with. I look forward to reading your results!

I’ll be posting mine in a few days’ time, plus there’s something exciting in store for the last week of 2010. Stay tuned! 😉

Update 23 Dec ’10: My 2010 review is up! Read it here: End of Year Review: 2010