The last 2 weeks of December are a good time to review your year. This is a more relaxed time and the pressure of work has reduced for many people.

A well-done annual review is an amazing source of information and reflection about your life, career or business. It shows you what worked well and what didn’t. You’ll also have a clearer picture of what you like and what you don’t like. Finally, you’ll have a strong foundation for the next year.

In this post, I share the annual review system I use before setting goals for the next year.


It’s a good idea to prepare for the review in advance. To do this:

  • Set aside time (1-2 days) for the review and schedule it in your calendar.
  • Find a quiet place for the exercise. If you can, do the review away from home or office. Being in a neutral area will give you more focus and peace of mind.
  • Prepare your materials including:
    • Your long-term goals and plans.
    • Your goals and plans for the year that’s ending.
    • Any plans or reviews you’ve done during the year that’s ending (e.g. monthly, quarterly or half-year).
    • Physical evidence of measurable goals such as your payslips (to evaluate salary increase), financial statements, business reports, health indicators, etc.
    • Writing materials – pen paper, notebook, writing pad, 3×5 index cards, marker pens, post it notes.
    • Your laptop.
  • A printout of this article so that you can follow the steps.

Over time, I’ve discovered that the review and goal setting processes work best when done long-hand style and not on a computer.

Review Process

1. Your scores for the year

I always start and end the year with a score sheet. This sheet evaluates 8 core areas of my life:

  • Spirituality.
  • Personal development or growth.
  • Health.
  • Work, career, business.
  • Finances.
  • Family.
  • Social life (including friends).
  • Philanthropy or giving.

Rate each area on a scale of 1 to 10, with 1 being a low score for each category and 10 being the ultimate level of success for the category.

Some categories such as spirituality need an intuitive score. Others such as health, career, business and finances require tangible figures.

My core areas may not reflect your life so it’s important that you have a clear idea about the areas you want to measure in your life.

Complete your rating before moving on to the next step.

2. Successes

The following questions will help you identify both minor and major successes. It’s easy to focus on the major ones and forget the lesser but still important achievements. When evaluating your successes, think about:

  • What you achieved or accomplished this year.
  • What you did in an outstanding way.
  • The things you’re most proud of doing, being or having.
  • Strides made in your personal development this year.
  • Obstacles you overcame.
  • The smartest decision you made this year.
  • The biggest risk you took that paid off.
  • Unexpected successes that you had.

3. Failures and challenges

Many people fear the word failure and try to cloak it in different ways. I’m guilty of this too and prefer to use the term “Learning experiences” rather than failures.

Our education system and society have pre-conditioned us to avoid failure as much as possible. However, if you take time to identify your failures and learn from them, you will have made massive progress in your life.

Here are some questions to ask in this section:

  • What were your failures this year?
  • What was the hardest challenge you had this year and why?
  • In which instances did you act negatively?
  • What are you least proud of this year?
  • Are there important goals or milestones that you missed? Which ones and why?
  • Which are the areas where you found yourself procrastinating the most?

The best thing about failures is that they help you learn faster than you would with successes. Don’t fear failure. Embrace it and learn from it as fast as you can.

4. Lessons Learned

A review of your year only works when you learn from your successes and challenges.

Expand your exploration and go through the year month by month. You can read through your journal or evaluate your monthly planners for ideas.

What can you say about this year?

  • Are there goals that are irrelevant or that you keep putting off?
  • Can you identify areas where you have grown or regressed?
  • What small changes did you experience through the year?
  • Who has supported you the most this year and in what way?
  • Who do you need to let go of next year?
  • Which toxic relationships did you detox from this year? How did that work for you?
  • Where did you spend time and money very well?
  • Where did you waste time and money the most?
  • What did you like best about this year?
  • What did you like least this year?
  • In which areas did you achieve massive success with the least effort and resources?
  • What are 3 new things you’ve learnt about yourself this year?
  • What major life lessons did you learn this year?
  • How will you utilize these lessons next year?

5. What will you do differently next year?

This question will help you prepare your plan for the new year. The aim is to make the next year even better than this one.

  • Looking at your scores for this year (Step 1), which areas need the most work?
  • Which goals do you need to abandon?
  • What will be your main focus next year?
  • What big goals do you need to work on?
  • Which relationship(s) do you need to build or amplify next year?
  • What kind of person do you want to become next year? (Think of habits and behaviours that you need to stop, change or learn).
  • What trainings will you attend next year?


Setting goals for the new year can be a daunting job if you don’t prepare adequately for it. Conducting a review of the year before the year ends will help you avoid coming up with New Year resolutions that you don’t keep. It will also help you plan for what will happen after you achieve your goals.

Have a happy holiday and a great start to the New Year!

Over to you…

Do you review the year before planning for the next one? What review method do you use and what have the results been?

(Image credit: Krishna Arts at Free Digital Photos)


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