My favorite time of the year is almost here. Christmas? No. It is the New Year, time for a personal annual review. Time to reflect on the past year, and to get excited about next year and new beginnings.
Some people say not to wait for a new year to start new habits or projects, and, in a way, I agree. Waiting until the time is right is sometimes counterproductive. Now is usually the best time to start something.
However, there is something about having a brand new year ahead that brings optimistic anticipation that isn’t present at any other time of the year. A brand new year with no mistakes in it yet.
Work along: the personal annual review process
This year I’m sharing my annual reflection and planning process with you. This personal review was first posted as a year-end planning process that lasted the whole month of December.
Don’t be discouraged if you find this post halfway through the month, or even halfway through next year. You can tailor this method to fit anytime your life needs a reset.
The Planning Process Timeline
Why does the Reflection and Planning Process take a whole month?
Why can’t this process all be done in one day? The truth is that if you choose to, you can. It is possible to condense the whole process into one day. If you are very busy and have a week off at the holidays, you can also choose to condense this process into a week.
There are two reasons to reflect and plan over a month. One is because it is a busy time of year, and doing this over a length of time makes it easier. The second and more important reason is to give the mind enough time to process and think about things. By taking time to think things over, there is time to really get deep.
Like most things, if you rush you may not get as much out of the process.
What do you need to Plan Along?
Usually, I make longer than usual entries into my journal each week as part of this planning process. It isn’t necessary to have a special workbook, notebook, or pen although that might be a nice idea.
It is recommended that you record your process somewhere that you can keep for years to come. One of the most enjoyable parts of this process is being able to look back at past planning and reflection. From day-to-day it is hard to see progress and change, which is why it is so beneficial to keep an annual record. You may be surprised how far you have come or how what is important to you changes.
That said, choose a place to record your process, whether it be on paper, your laptop, or your phone. If you really don’t like writing, you could choose to do a voice recording. How cool would it be to keep recordings over the years and be able to listen to the hopes and dreams of your younger self?
The most important thing is to set an intention to work through the process. By deciding how, where, and when you will work on your annual review you are eliminating barriers. Eliminating even small barriers makes it easier to follow through.
Why Should I do a Personal Annual Review?
This year has not been the best for many of us. There is much happening in the world that is not in our control. Many of us may have made plans for this year that were completely abandoned. Let’s face it, next year maybe more of the same, so why even bother?
Even in the midst of uncertainty and stressful times, there are things we can control. By focusing on those things, we can find things to be grateful for, things to bring us optimism and hope.
When we reflect back we can clearly see the events of the year. It may be that there were some positives you hadn’t considered. It may be that it is hard to find good things, but that is not something to get down about, that is an opportunity. If you are at the bottom there is only one way to go. The phoenix rises from the ashes.
Just because circumstances may not be the best at the moment, doesn’t mean we should give up. Things change, and what is true today may not be true tomorrow. By making a plan and shooting for the stars, even if we fall short we will reach the moon. Doing something is almost always better than doing nothing.
Completing an annual review can give you clarity. It is hard to travel to a destination when you don’t know where you are starting from or where you are going. An annual review is like creating your own personal life map.
You may still detour sometimes, but at least you will have an idea of where you are!
Click here to go to Reflection – Annual Planning Process – Week 1