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How Do I Conduct a Good End-of-Year Review?
Woof, it’s been a big year! When I think back on the past 12 months, I can barely remember all that’s happened since January, let alone what I want to carry with me into this new decade. Do you have any resources or practices that help you reflect on what you’ve learned (in business and life) and start to set better goals for the coming year? I want to make time for this because I know it’s an important practice, but I also feel swamped with all the demands of the holiday season! Any thoughts would be much appreciated.”
Happy New Year,
Ready for Reflection
‘Tis the season to be reflecting.
We’re fast approaching the start of a brand new decade, and it suddenly seems urgently important to integrate all that we’ve learned over the course of the year(s). We are surrounded by helpful workbooks and Instagram posts and YouTube videos encouraging us to get quiet, tune in, and record our thoughts and lessons. I’m sure you’ve noticed!
I’ll be honest: this is one of my very favourite things to do, and I usually devote quite a bit of time to end-of-year reflections. But I also know how overwhelming it can seem to carve out the time required for this work, especially given how busy this time of year tends to be.
Which is why I feel strongly that you have to create your own end-of-year review process that adapts to where you’re at in each season of your life. Not every year needs to involve a personal three-day summit with yourself! If all you have time for this month is a quick scribble of your intentions on the back of a cocktail napkin at a holiday party, so be it. It’s better than nothing.
But if you want a bit more intention than that (which it sounds like you do!) then I have suggestions galore.
1. Set Up
It can be hard to motivate yourself to get your reflection done alone in your home, by yourself. Accountability is key for most things (especially if you are an Obliger!), and it helps to fold support from others into the reflective process. In my group of friends, we like to choose a reflection workbook (or this year, make our own! See below.) to work on independently, then come together to share our answers. Similarly, it helps me to share my reflections and goals online on my personal blog so that I have a record of past & current intentions.
The physical environment you reflect in is also really important, so make sure it’s tailored to you. Do you want a cozy space full of candles and blankets? Or do you want to feel alert and alive at a bustling café or coworking space? Think about when & where you do your best thinking, and schedule that time into your calendar.
Action: Choose when & where you plan to do your best reflection this holiday season. Put that ish in your calendar! Text some friends to make plans to discuss with afterwards.
This is the most important part of the process, but it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Most workbooks get you to think about similar things: the lessons you’ve learned, what you need and want more or less of, and how you want to feel.
This year, my friends and I decided to make our own workbook for reflection based on one simple prompt: What would you be most interested in asking others about their year? We each contributed a question that we’d be most excited to ask the group, and it came together in a beautiful PDF I whipped up to showcase the beautiful questions. Together we created The Introspective Retrospective Workbook, which is what I personally will be using for the bulk of my reflecting this holiday season! If you’re already on my email list you will have gotten it in your inbox, but if you missed it, you can sign up right here to download it.
Whatever reflection questions you choose, make sure they reflect your own values. What matters most to you? What were your goals this year? How close did you come to your ideal lifestyle and business over the past several months? Where are you still feeling gaps or lack in the way your days unfold? What made you feel so good in 2019?
More Reflection Resources I Love:
- 3 Simple Tools for Deeper Reflection from Stephanie Pellett Creative (it me!)
- Unravel Your Year from Susannah Conway
- Bridge Your Year Workbook from Radiate Real
Personally, I am pretty guilty of trying to skip this step. The reflection process tends to be quiet and at times solitary, so it can seem complicated or awkward to take a moment to celebrate in a louder, more connected kind of way. And yet it matters! Without taking stock of how far we’ve come, it’s easy to get demoralized about how much further we may still have to go towards our goals. They say that the only person you should compare yourself to is an older version of yourself, and an end-of-year review is a perfect time to do just that.
So once you’ve taken a chance to reflect on what you’ve been through this year, schedule in some time to cheer yourself on in whatever way feels most fun & delightful to you. Here are a few ideas:
- Give yourself a Boss Bonus courtesy of Make Lemonade!
- Brag It Out: Get together with your closest friends & a bottle of bubbly to toast your collective accomplishments, and experience how it feels to be celebrated by others
- Create a Celebration List full of things you were most grateful to have experienced or achieved this year
4. Goal Set
Once you’ve reflected and celebrated, it’s time to commit to changes and improvements going forward. Reflection is only half as helpful if you don’t apply what you’ve learned from it. Sure, it still serves a purpose in and of itself! But combined with action and intention, reflection can create massive change.
Over the years I’ve moved away from setting big yearly goals. I prefer to check in monthly! That way I can track how much bandwidth I have, and choose what I want to commit to for the next chunk of time.
Whatever you decide, it’s still important to make a point to check in regularly on your goals (at least quarterly!) and be ready to make new decisions. Setting goals is an evolving, ongoing process. What you want can – and will – change. This practice can’t just be a once-a-year kind of thing. Instead, commit to touching base with yourself regularly to make sure you’re staying on track.
More Goal Setting Resources I Love:
- Do the Set Vision & Plan Change course from Modern Planner
- Get yourself a dayplanner devoted to goal-setting
- Commit to implementing a new system like Asana or Airtable to keep track of your goals
Ready for 2020?
Don’t buy into the hype of it being a new decade. It is, technically, but that doesn’t mean that we have to absolutely uproot everything in our lives that’s working already. The way I see it, this new year is simply giving us a chance to pause. To breathe into all the growth you’ve been through. To lean towards the challenges and lessons to come. So good luck! You’ve got this. You’re doing great. I can’t wait to see what the new year has to offer you.
I’d love to know: How do you reflect on the year that’s passed and look forward to the year ahead? What ways do YOU celebrate your successes? What are your favourite resources for reflection? Let me know in the comments below or on Instagram @stephpellett!
PS. If 2020 is the year that you decide to commit to your business growth in a supportive community, I’d love to work with you in The Foundery! It’s a group coaching program dedicated to helping you improve your systems, make progress on your goals and create meaningful change. Click here to learn more about the program.