How To Do Your Year End Review (4 Tips & 10 Simple Questions )

Photo courtesy Fred Thomas Jr.

With the end of the year quickly approaching, I thought I’d share part of my annual ritual. It’s a condensed and sanely-packaged, year-end question review that lets you look back at the year completed, and then forward to the one ahead.

In previous years, the annual review has turned into a mammoth marathon of a writing-session ending in a monumental migraine. Alliteration aside, this version I’ve weaved together gets you straight to the point. Plus, I believe doing a yearly review should help us to gain clarity, not trample our sanity.

To do your review, it helps to have your calendar handy to see what you’ve done this year. I like having a note pad and pen to physically write my answers, because I find something very empowering in using handwriting as opposed to typing the answers. Lastly, set aside time for yourself over several weeks time with as few interruptions as possible.

Before we start, I’ll add these tips (especially if the thought of doing this is even slightly overwhelming):

1. Go with a time commitment that feels possible, and keeps it fun. Taking 15 minutes a day per question is better than an epic session (trust me on this one ). Even if it means using a short break from your daily routine to jot down one answer, that means you are making progress! Yay! I usually set aside an hour time-chunk, because that allows my mind to relax and work without hurry.

2. Make an appointment on your calendar to do your annual review, and include a due date. Locking in that appointment with yourself is essential. It’s just like any other important meeting. If you miss your appointment, at least you’ve made your intention clear. But don’t let up. Reschedule. If your calendar fails, tell a supportive friend what you intend to do — and then ask them to check with you in a week.

3. If you are stuck on any question, skip to the next. There are no rules that you have to answer the questions in order. Plus, you know all the answers — and they will eventually come to you.

4. Whatever time commitment you’ve given yourself to focus on your annual review, once time is up, stop. That’s right. This is not punishment. Nor is it a test of endurance. Reviewing your year until your eyes fall out helps no one. Schedule a follow up session to continue. It’s okay!

Now for your bare-bones review:

Answer these questions about 2015:

  • What was the theme for this year?
  • What were the top 3 lessons you’ve learned?
  • List one personal quality that you developed. Stuck? Try this list of positive character traits from Danea Horn.
  • What were the biggest wins this year?
  • What were the biggest challenges this year?
  • What would you like to let go of?

Answer these questions about 2016 to create a vision statement:

  • What is the theme for the year?
  • What are your top 3 personal goals?
  • What are your top 3 professional goals?
  • What is one personal quality you most want to develop this year?

I’ve written these vision statements over the course of a few years, and it is always interesting to note how much of what I write that actually happens.

If you yearn for a more in-depth process that makes you roll up sleeves, I can suggest two powerful year-end reviews that I’ve found at The Art of Nonconformity (AONC) and the Liberated Life Project. One approaches from a perspective of actions, the other, intentions. Both are loaded with methods and resources to help you dive into self-reflection with gusto!

But please, don’t just read this. I wrote this post partially to keep me accountable to completing my own review as well — so PLEASE ask me about it. Also, do you have any simple, year-end review methods to share? LEAVE A COMMENT below.

Originally published at on November 4, 2013.