Most every year, over the past 3 decades of my life, I’ve gotten away for a couple of days, at the end of the year, to review the previous year, before planning the new one.
One of the primary values of doing a “Year-End Review” is having a process to complete the past so you’re able to bring forward, into the new year, lessons learned from the previous one, but not then dragging any of the unnecessary parts into the future, where it might sabotage it.
There are several important things we need to see, in terms of the actual value in doing this.
A. You need to fully and formally recognize what has taken place.
Chances are really high, that your life is like mine, and rest of humanity in that there have been some really painful or difficult things that you’ve experienced AND there may have been some really joyful or marvelous things that you’ve experienced.
Either way, nothing can be learned from any of these experiences unless we’ve fully reflected on them.
B. You need to learn from pivotal experiences (whether you perceive them to be very good or not).
The experience of re-building my life, marriage, and family has been profound on every level. Patterns have emerged of what has been MOST effective and those that have been LEAST effective. These learnings are absolutely invaluable!
While it’s been a difficult time in my family and in my personal and professional life. it’s also been a dramatic experience I’ve learned from. In fact, it’s an experience I wouldn’t want to repeat, but it’s also an experience I’ve been profoundly changed by.
C. You need to apply those learning’s first to your interior life (your mind) and then your exterior one (your behavior.)
One of the primary ways that we grow is when we change something in the way that we think and then the way we act. When we allow past experiences to inform our future ones, something very powerful happens.
So here’s a simple process to use, for a Year-End Review
Get away to a quiet place where there are no distractions. This could be your backyard… in a park… by a lake, etc. When you get there, turn off your phone! You need to reflect on your life, not respond to other’s lives.
Pull out a journal (either a paper one or a digital one- I use the DayOne app for this) and write out these questions. (Several of these I’ve used for years and several of them I got from Michael Hyatt.)
1. If this past year were a movie, which genre would it fall into?
Was your life this past year like a sci-fi movie? Or more like a comedy… or adventure… or like an intense drama?
2. What are the specific things that you feel gratitude for?
Upon the most honest reflection, one will quickly see that most of life has been a pure gift. What are those gifts? What should be your response to them?
3. What are several major themes that seemed to emerge from the year?
For most of us, we have multiple experiences but most of them could be boiled down into 2-3 themes that seemed to have been recurring.
4. What did you accomplish this past year that you were the proudest of?
What are numerous things, that required effort and intentionality on your part, that seemed to produce some goodness in your life and in the lives of others?
5. What did you feel that you could have been acknowledged for but weren’t?
Ok. This is often a big one because it happens to us all. But when we ‘bury’ hurt over important things that we did, that no one seemed to notice, this can lead to bitterness in our lives.
6. What regrets or disappointments did you experience?
There are always things that happen in our human lives, that didn’t go our way! Some of these things might include: goals or dreams that never materialized; things that you had hoped would change or turn around; etc.
7. What do you feel was missing from this past year?
Often times when we reflect back on our lives, we wish we would have included more of certain things or people in our lives.
8. What were the major life lessons you learned?
A very important thing to motivate us is that: “Whatever we don’t learn from, we’re destined to repeat it.”
9. What do you need to say to God in response to all of this? What might He want to say to you?
All of these questions can help you do a better job of bringing a whole year’s worth of experiences to some sort of completion. And from the process itself, your future can be better empowered instead of getting sabotaged again.
Imagine how such a review could be helpful for you. When can you schedule such a review?