As the end of the year approaches, many people are looking towards the year ahead to set their resolutions.
Many of us have goals set and wonder what the future will hold. But instead of just looking ahead, why not do a year end review to help guide your goals?
What is a year end review?
A year end review is kind of like a performance review for your life. Instead of your boss telling you what has gone well and what hasn’t, you get to evaluate yourself.
I first heard about the idea from author Chris Guillebeau, who has performed a year end review every year since 2005.
The point is to assess what has gone well and what hasn’t over the past year of your life.
On one hand, you can celebrate your achievements and all that you have accomplished. Simultaneously, you are also looking at parts of your life that could be improved going forward.
Doing a year end review can help you see how far you’ve come. Not only that, but it can help guide your New Year’s resolutions to see where you should really focus your time and energy.
The five pillars of a year end review
To do a comprehensive year end review, you need to look at the big picture. Especially since looking at all the facets of your life can be overwhelming.
So to get started, you should focus on these five pillars:
- Health — your physical and mental well-being
- Relationships — friends, family, and significant others
- Career — your professional life
- Finance — the state of your personal finances
- Personal fulfillment — recreational activities, entertainment, travel, education, etc.
Many of us thrive in one area or another. But, may be lacking in others. Separating your life into these pillars can help you see what areas of your life may need more attention.
How to perform a year end review
First off, there’s no right way or wrong way when it comes to performing a year end review.
Going through the analysis is essentially half the battle. Here are some suggestions for how to get started.
If you prefer writing, take out a journal and pen and write down the five pillars on five separate pages (trust me, you’ll need the room).
Or, if you prefer visuals, you can take out a stack of Post-Its and write down all of the pillars and place them on a wall.
In your journal or on Post-Its, consider the following questions to guide you through your year end review:
- What worked well this year?
- What did not work well this year?
- How happy were you overall?
- What did you accomplish? Try to be as specific as possible.
- What were your setbacks?
- How much debt did you pay off? What was your balance at the beginning of the year, compared to now?
- What is your net worth? Take into account your assets and liabilities.
- What is your credit score?
- Did your income go up or down?
- What lessons did you learn?
- What healthy habits were part of your life?
- How do you feel about your life this past year?
Using these questions as a guide, you can assess what worked and what didn’t in various categories of your life. Once you have all of your answers mapped out and take a look at everything, you’ll probably notice a few things.
If you’re like most people, your year end review will be filled with the good, the bad, and the ugly.
The point isn’t to gloat and celebrate only your successes. Or, beat yourself up about all the things you didn’t do. Rather, it’s to get a realistic picture of what happened this year.
For example, in my year end review, I noticed a lot of professional success but also a lot of growing pains. Though I focused a lot on my finances and career, my health and relationships took a backseat.
Going forward, I now see the areas I need to give more attention to achieve balance. Additionally, I can look back and see my accomplishments and understand my setbacks.
In some cases, there may have been things that happened throughout the year that were out of your control. Or, a complete surprise. Always look at the context of the situation.
For example, this year I got hit with a surprise tax bill, which delayed some of my financial progress. However, going forward, I know what I need to do to prevent this from happening again.
Moving forward into the future
After you’ve performed a year end review and assessed your personal, professional, and financial successes as well as setbacks, you can prepare to set resolutions for the year ahead.
Set specific goals and write down a timeline for achieving them. Feel free to dream big! But also create actionable steps to help you get there.
For example, if you want to pay off $10,000 in student loan debt, you need an action plan. Will you cut back on expenses, or earn more through side hustling?
Or, if you want to improve your credit, you’ll want to check where you currently stand. That way you can track your progress. You can get your full credit report for free once a year at AnnualCreditReport.com.
Perhaps you want to spend more time with your family or friends. That may mean saying no to other things and scheduling that time in.
And if you want to stay on top of your health, that means putting in the time and effort and understanding your weak points.
At the end of the day, it’s all about trying to find balance among the various parts of your life. Looking at your year end review can help shape your New Year’s goals, so you can achieve your best life yet — personally, professionally and financially.
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