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How to Do an Annual Review and Set Yourself Up for Success


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Were's almost at the end of 2021 already!

It means it's time to start reviewing the past year before looking ahead to the new year!


Why is taking this time to reflect on the past year important?


“Without reflection, we go blindly on our way, creating more unintended consequences, and failing to achieve anything useful.” - Meg Wheatley


A yearly review allows us to:

  • Assess the progress made, our learnings, successes, setbacks (look at the past).

  • Evaluate where we are currently at in our life (assess the present).

  • Determine where we want to go (plan for the future).

  • Take time to see what we're doing well, what needs to change, what we need to start doing.


And taking the time to do this review has many advantages:

  • Get to better know ourselves.

  • Take in and make the most of our learning experiences.

  • Improve our performance based on those learnings

  • Plan more efficiently our next actions


Of course, we have to be open to seeing both our strengths and weaknesses, our qualities and flaws. We have to be completely honest with ourselves and take an honest look at our behaviours, skills, relationships, choices, strengths and weaknesses, etc., if we want to make the most of this reflection.


How to prepare for your reflection session(s)


Once you've decided to do a yearly review, here are some steps to help you prepare for it and make the most out of it:

  • Determine whether you want to do it over a few days or in a more concentrated way.

  • Block time in your planner to do it because if it's not planned, you probably won't do it.

  • Make sure you choose moments in which you'll be able to focus 100% and won't be interrupted.

  • Choose the means you'll use to do your reflection:

  • a notebook (BuJo, personal diary, planner, etc.)

  • an app/software (Word, Notion, Evernote, etc.)

  • If you want prompts to help you in your reflection, research them in advance:

  • Lookup question lists on the Internet or Pinterest.

  • Buy my Notion template! If you want a step-by-step guide to review the past year and set goals for the new year, you can get my Goal-Setting Guide. However, compared to other review and planning guides, it's not something meant to be used only at the beginning of the year. It's meant to help you build a system that will allow you to keep your goals in sight and prompt you to work on them all year long. You can get it here.

  • Create an environment propitious to reflection:

  • Find a comfortable place to do your reflection.

  • Put on music, light some candles, anything that will help you get in a state of flow.

  • Turn off your notifications and/or devices.

  • Prepare your mindset to do your reflection:

  • Meditate or do breathwork exercises before starting.

  • Make a promise to yourself to be completely honest and authentic.

  • Allow yourself to be bold, dream big, think about yourself and nobody else.

  • Remember: this exercise is for you and no one else; you can think and write whatever you want, dream as big as you want!


What can you include in your annual review?


Anything you want! There are no rules here, do as you feel.


As mentioned before, if you prefer to have a pre-established framework for your reflection, make sure you search for it before you sit down to do your reflection. Otherwise, you'll end up losing the time you had planned for your reflection searching for the prompts.

Otherwise, here are some of the elements you can include in your review.


Review the year as a whole

  • What were good moments and memories?

  • What successes and setbacks did you have?

  • What are you proud of?

  • Did you reach your goals?

  • Why or why not?

  • What didn't go as planned?

  • How did you spend your time and energy? Did you spend them on what mattered?

  • How did you spend your money? Any good or bad investments?

  • What did you learn this year (about yourself, new skills, courses, etc.)


Review the different areas of your life

  • You can do the Level 10 Life exercise to determine your current satisfaction level for each area of your life (career, family, finances, health, personal development, etc.)?

  • Determine what you want to improve on.


Define (or re-define) your vision


Your vision gives a direction to your life. It's your dream life, what you want your life to look like in the future.


It should guide your decisions, your priorities, your goals, and your daily actions


To define your vision, think about where you want to be in 2, 5, 10, 20 years. Be as precise as possible:

  • Where do you live?

  • Who are you with?

  • What do you do for a living?

  • How do you feel?


You can write it down, create a mental visualization, and/or create a mood board to make sure you keep your vision in sight


Clarify your priorities

  • Which areas of your life do you want to focus on?

  • What are your three priorities going to be this year?


Set your goals for the year and your life in general

Your goals should be linked to your visions and your priorities as much as possible. They are the steps that will help you reach your dream life.


  • Set short, medium, and long-term goals to have an idea of what you want to work on this year and over the coming years.

  • Make sure they're SMARTER or use any other goal-setting method you prefer (see episode #14).


Plan your year

  • Goals

  • Which goals are you going to focus on this year?

  • When precisely do you intend to work on them?


  • Tasks

  • What actions will you have to take to accomplish your goals? List them all and be as precise as possible.

  • What do you have to do in general this year (ex. renew official documents)


  • Big events

  • Do you have any big events planned this year (ex. weddings, launches, moves, change of career, etc.)? Plan them in your calendar.


  • Holidays

  • Already define more or less precisely when you'll go on holiday this year.

  • It will allow you to plan and prepare for them in advance.


  • Budget

  • Create your budget for the year

  • How much do you plan on earning?

  • What recurring and fixed expenses will you have? (rent, utility bills, insurance, taxes, subscriptions, etc.)

  • What big expenses do you plan on having (ex. car repairs, renovations, new electronic device, etc.)

  • How much do you want to save/invest?

  • How much is left monthly for variable and discretionary expenses (food, clothing, entertainment, hobbies, gifts, etc.)?



Don't forget to get your Goal-Setting Guide to help you do this review and planning step-by-step.


And if you want a more personal approach to help you set your goals for the year, you can book a Goal-Setting Power Hour with me. During that hour and a half, we'll work on determining your goals for the coming year and drafting up a clear and concrete action plan to help you achieve them! You can book it in English here and in French here.


I really hope I have convinced you of the importance and the benefits of doing an annual reflection. You will see, it'll help you bring closure to this past year and open you to all the possibilities the new year brings! I have given you some examples of what you can do during this moment of reflection, but I really encourage you to do what resonates with you and what will be most beneficial to you!


I wish you a zenly organized week, and hopefully, a good year review!


Sarah