How To Do Your Personal Annual Review and Get the Most from 2021

The step-by-step guide to a year of your dreams.

Eva Keiffenheim
Ascent Publication
Published in
8 min readDec 1, 2020


Photo by Markus Winkler from Pexels

2020 was a great year to learn more about yourself.

You were forced to cancel travel plans and minimize social interactions. You’ve likely spent more time with yourself than ever before. And while time alone might have brought your most unpleasant feelings to the surface, your experiences can reveal a promising way for your future.

Yet, this year per se isn’t enough to make you learn more about yourself. You can spend 52 weeks alone without evolving at all.

It’s about when and how you reflect on your experiences that will improve your life’s quality and prepare you for the next year.

Billionaire entrepreneur Sara Blakely shared in an interview how she regularly reflects on her life’s obstacles and the lessons learned. And psychologist and educational scientist John Dewey summarized the effects best, writing:

“We do not learn from experience. We learn from reflecting on experience.”

I’ve run a personal annual review for the past four years now and continue to look for ways to improve it. Recently, I went through all my notes and distilled the practices that helped me the most.

4 Things You Need To Run Your Annual Review

You don’t need a fancy retreat to conduct your reflection. All it takes are four simple things.

2x3 hours of uninterrupted time. You don’t want to rush through your review in one sitting. For me, the reviews work best when I block three hours on two subsequent days. You can, however, also block two times 3 hours on a single day. Your life, your choices.

Paper, pen, and the printed questions. Your computer or your phone will easily distract you. Shut your devices off and prepare a technology-free working area. Print this article (you’ll find a printable version a the end) or write down the questions. You can always look up information afterward if you need it.

Journals, diaries, calendars, or other personal data. Your memory is good, but your documentation works…



Eva Keiffenheim
Ascent Publication

Learning enthusiast, TEDx speaker, and writer with +3M views | Elevate your love for learning with my free, weekly Learn Letter: