Taking Stock of Your 2019

A personal annual review can help you reflect on the challenges and successes of the past year and help you to prepare for a great 2020.

Last year I started taking part in the tradition of doing an annual year-end review and based on how it went I made some pointers to help you do the same. Before we get started on the how, let’s have a quick look at what a personal review is and why we would do it.

The Why

Why would you do this in the first place? Well this is a busy time of year when we can get swept up in parties, shopping, travel and family drama and it is easy to drift into the new year still in a partial food coma possibly faintly smelling of Brussel sprouts and Ferrero rocher (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing!). But, as always, it is easier to see where you’re going and how to get there when you clearly know where you’ve been. In this case, it will be easier to start the new year with 2020 vision if we take the time to reflect on the year coming to a close (excuse the pun). 

The What

A personal annual review is just that – personal – so yours may be very different to someone else’s. But just to give you a general idea; it is an opportunity to reflect on what you have achieved in the past year, the challenges you have faced and how you did that, what disappointments and breakthroughs you’ve experienced, what you have learned and what you would like to do or have more of in the future. It might take an hour for some people, others may set aside a day or even week. 

The How

Here are my tips for doing your own great review. I recommend you have a read through and then make this exercise your own by doing it your own way, so it makes sense and feels right for you. And at the end of this article I will give you some ideas of things you can look at more specifically.Set aside time.

1. Set Aside Time

It helps to plan in advance because if you are a super-busy person you may find yourself doing this last minute or squeezing it in because you feel like you should, but then you will not really be in the right state of mind to reflect. So whether it is for an hour or two, or you decide to schedule times every day for one week, I strongly recommend you specifically set aside time in your diary. 

2. Prepare

You do not need to do extensive prep for your review, but if you have a general think about things you want to consider before hand it will give your subconscious mind a chance to start working on it, and it also gives you a chance to gather any facts or data you need. For example, if reflecting on your work is part of your review and that will involve sales figures – get the rough data together before hand so that your time is not consumed by this. Or if you want to plan a big trip in 2020, you can do a little research on different options ahead of time – not choosing the trip, just gathering information. Getting the more mundane but necessary part of the way first will help you to relax into a more reflective and maybe intuitive state for your actual review.

3. Create the Space

If you are not used to doing this kind of exercise it can feel a little silly and if others are not used to you doing it you may find it hard to be left alone. Consider your best chances for some peaceful alone time, where you will have the time and space to reflect. Sometimes taking yourself out of your normal environment can help give you more perspective, while others may want the sense of connection to their life that a familiar place gives them. There is no right or wrong as long as you feel comfortable, engaged and relaxed. You can also create your mental space for doing this work by setting aside worries and other habits (smartphone/ browsing the internet randomly), allowing yourself to step outside of the day-to-day so that you can reflect on how you have been over the last year, how your work has gone, how the year has affected you etc. 

4. Decide What to Look At

You may want to look at every aspect of your life, or just a couple that are most important for you right now. Personally, I like to get a general overview and I have included a few different aspects below, which are more about your self-development than practical concerns. However, you can look at anything you want; finances, friendships, athletic ability, travel, cooking skills. I strongly suggest you pick the topics that feel meaningful to you, which will make a difference in your life, and also at least one area that you know is not your strongest and would prefer to avoid looking at. 

5. Be Kind 

Of course, this review is meant to help you bring the old year to a close and move into the new year feeling strong, hopeful and centred. Therefore, it is not an exercise in being very self-critical or other forms of self-flagellation. Of course, we have to acknowledge mistakes but the main thing is that we understand why they happened and how we would like to act in the future, not get caught up in guilt or shame. So be kind to yourself as you do this review – even if you have had an absolutely terrible year (especially if you have!) – because this review is a way of taking care of yourself. 

Some things to consider

Many of the points below are related to self-development more than practicalities (although I have popped a couple of those in as well), so feel free to add anything else you are interested in – this is just to get you started. You could pick 4-8 aspects of your life to consider in your review, whatever you feel is right for you. 

  • Physical health
  • Connection to, and appreciation of, my body
  • Amount of fun I have
  • General levels of joy
  • Amount of spontaneity/ adventure in my life
  • Ability to take risks when it feels right (did I play it safe and regret it at all? Did I take too many risks?)
  • Mental wellbeing
  • Self-compassion in my attitude and actions
  • Ability to think clearly
  • Amount of time I feel inspired/ lifted up
  • Amount of time I spend in a flow state
  • Sense of connection to others
  • Deepening my relationships, putting the time and effort in
  • Taking care of others in a healthy way
  • Having great boundaries
  • Self-love and self-appreciation
  • Acknowledging my emotions and listening to them
  • Taking care of my emotional and physical needs in a healthy way
  • Finances
  • Career progress and successes
  • Learning from opportunities
  • Creating an authentic and strong network for study or work
  • Ongoing study to build on current knowledge/ expertise
  • Having all my ducks in a row at important times
  • Setting myself up for success (did I self-sabotage at all? If so, how and why?)
  • Charitable/ pro bono work, giving back to the community
  • Considering my impact on the world, the change I would like to make even if small
  • My relationship with the environment, lessening my impact, helping nature
  • The influence I have on other people (children, students, coworkers, partner, friends and others)

As you can see there are so many things we could consider! You may be wondering why there are so many things that look at our impact on others, considering this is self-development. Well we’re all in the planet together and although it may feel comforting to think we are an island, on some level we know this is not true. So I recommend including some aspect of your impact on the world or people around you in your evaluation also. Contributing to something greater than ourselves is also the way that we find meaning, and I think this is a great way to bring the year to a close and to move towards 2020 with a sense of who we are, how we are doing, our place in the world and the impact we would like to have on it. 

Happy personal annual reviewing! 

Image by picjumbo, Pixabay