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! :D 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. :D 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

  • http://www.start-right.com Rolf

    Great advice :!:
    What I love to do is reminding yourself of what you have achieved, what you are especially proud of, what changed your live and what did you do to move closer to your dreams (or did you even reach some steps on the way to your dreams?)

    Getting those moments back in your head and feeling the emotions one more time as when the things happened in the first place is huuuuuge and a great motivator to tackle the next step on the ladder. :dance:

    All the very best

    • kailash

      celes and shailesh only two people are on the world who inspiered me. thanks celes, you give very very practical thought to your follower which are releveant to real life. I am waiting for your india trip. please let me know when yu visit to india. I am very exited to see you. By the way sailesh is my childhood frieds and prepared for civil servises and finally achieve his goal due to his will power………….

  • Anna

    Hi celes,

    year 2010 I wasted too much time in queues for various things—
    so in year 2011 I will see to that I am not waiting in any queue for anykind of payment.
    action items will be
    1. make every payment online.
    2. arrange the provisions such that order will be placed online and it will be delivered at home.

    I managed to get a job and performing well in office. thats the accomplishment I had made.
    All the best

    • http://personalexcellence.co/blog/ Celes

      Thanks so much for sharing Anna! Congrats on getting a job and your great performance at work! :hug:

  • http://glenn-thomas.com Glenn

    Give me a few more days :-) I have a goal set for Christmas day I need to complete asap.

    • http://personalexcellence.co/blog/ Celes

      Look forward to your review Glenn! :D

  • http://www.thepracticalnerd.com Tom Meitner

    Celes, this is great stuff, and just in time. Earlier today, I jotted in my post ideas to do a review of 2010 next week. Looks like I have a point of reference now. Thanks for putting this up!

    • http://personalexcellence.co/blog/ Celes

      Glad that this will be of use to you! Thanks Tom! :D

  • http://d-pal.blogspot.com Dipal

    I love you Celes!

    Every time I have come to read your post on this blog, I have only gained something. This past year has been amazing and miraculous. Your contribution has been substantial, hence I am starting with you first!

    That’s my first item on the list! Thanking everyone who has contributed to my life in one way or another…

    Best regards!

    • http://personalexcellence.co/blog/ Celes

      Thank you Dipal! Your energy is amazing and you’re so endearing! I really appreciate all your sharing and contribution on the blog, so I’d like to thank you too. THANK YOU DIPAL! :hug: :hug: :angel:

  • http://www.upgradereality.com Diggy

    Heya Celes!

    I’m glad I got to know you a little in 2010! You’ve come an enormous way this year and I only hope that 2011 will be just as good and better!

    I’ve had a good 2010 and really planning on building my online business to gain financial freedom next year!

    Here’s what I learned in 2010:

    Happy holidays and all the best for 2010!

  • http://oldcoloradonews.wordpress.com/ Jude

    Years are imaginary devices to keep track of time. If you do constant reviews, you don’t need a year-end review. Setting goals for a new year, reviewing goals of a past year–it’s all fairly irrelevant. I don’t need a one-year plan or a five-year plan–just a plan, which I more or less review on a constant and consistent basis.

  • http://www.shiningstar.pk Rozeena

    i,ve learned a lot of things from year 2010.i spend my time in working without aim.i,ve just read throughly this article first time and you can,t imagin how happy i am after reading this article.thanks, thanks a lot. i am sooooooo excited that i am really going to change my life with a purpose.my life will certainly changed.i hope for the best.thanks again you give me courage. :) accomplishment is it that i didn,t waste my time in staying home only i m doing a job as a teacher and i,ve learned a lot of things. ;) i am now missing my studies while making notes for my students as i could not take adm. in engineering but its no use to cry over spilt milk; its time for an action.so i hope i,ll not let 2011 go. i,ll in contect with you.Thaaaaaks. : :

  • http://boykie.ath.cx Boykie

    Thanks Celes. As always your posts are really inspiring. I’ve only just got into blogging as a method of self development and your site is currently at the top of the list of sites I look to for inspiration. Based on your template, I’ve done my first annual review (http://boykie.ath.cx/content/2010/12/26/year-end-review).

    What I’m especially happy about is I have gone some way toward working on one of my biggest limiting habits of 2010, procrastination. When I came across your template I immediately got to doing my review (under 40 minutes) whereas before I’d focus so much on details and perfecting every bit of the review that I’d either not complete the review or have a long and laborious (albeit detailed) review that would be difficult to follow. In addition, I could also just pop over here and leave a comment without to much thought.

    2010 has been challenging and from the lessons learned, I look forward to grabbing 2011 by the horns and seeing significant development!

    Once again thanks and all the best for 2011!

  • http://caribbeanprincessmusings.blogspot.com Caribbean Princess

    Hi Celeste
    I tend to do my reviews at the end of the academic year. I also continuously reflect on what I have done, what went well and what I want to be better. However I don’t think there is any harm in doing an end of year review and I don’t agree with one of the previous comments that it is irrelevant. People structure things in different ways and what works for you may not work for someone else! Also doing one at the end of the year helps you to see the big picture!

    Anyways 2010 has been a great year for me! I won a prestigious doctoral fellowship and I celebrated my third year of marriage. I passed my professional membership exams and was invited to participate in a mock interview based on the fellowship success as part of a workshop which was videotaped for the internet. I also started saving properly which is huge for me as I prefer spending! I started blogging and took up a hobby. There are lots of other things but those are my biggies!

    Bring on 2011 :-)

  • http://www.couchet.org Fred

    Thank you for this article.

    I think there is a mistake in “5 What new habits to cultivate that will help you to achieve your goals in Q5?”. It should be “your goals in Q4″.

    I think that you should add one question :”What are the biggest failures this year ? Why did you fail ?”


    • http://boykie.ath.cx Boykie

      Hey Fred,

      I actually did think of that (biggest failures) when doing my review but I think it’s better covered when you score yourself and explain why. Focusing on the failures themselves I feel will be negative and demoralising (especially if they are significant) and it’s much better to focus on the positives i.e what you accomplished.

      I’m not saying not to review failures (it is necessary if you want to improve), just that you have to realise that focusing on them can have a big negative and detrimental effect and could potentially be counter-productive.

    • http://personalexcellence.co/blog/ Celes

      Hey Fred, thanks for the heads up on the typo. I’ve corrected it.

      Regarding the failures question, I second what Boykie said. If there are indeed areas to work/improve on it’ll automatically unveil themselves when you do the overall scoring and probe into the question.