How to Complete a Meaningful Annual Review For You and Your Family

A new year can be exhilarating. It can mean new dreams, new goals, new habits, etc. But for some, it can also be overwhelming. And perhaps even disappointing.

I personally love this time of year because I try to approach it with a sense of gratitude and appreciation, rather than disappointment and discouragement. Instead of being sad that it’s another year that’s been “spent” — I look back at the year and search for ways I “invested” my time to make it meaningful.

This shifts my mindset from simply focusing on my regrets to recognizing the moments that mattered. Practically, the way I do this is by completing an annual review for myself and my family.

Courtney and I even try to make it fun! This year, we started a New Year’s Day tradition of going to our favorite sushi spot to do our family annual review.

Here are just a few of the questions we talked about:

  • What was the best decision we made in the past year?
  • What lessons did we learn and want to pass on to our kids?
  • What were our biggest God moments?
  • What were our hardest moments?

After this part, we typically spend some time dreaming about the year and discussing ways we want to make it meaningful.

We also pray and choose a word to define the year ahead. This year our word is “Intentional.” Meaning we want to be more intentional with our time, money, relationships, work, and more.

If you’re interested in doing your own annual review, below is a simplified 3-step tutorial you can follow. Hope it helps you have your best year ever.

1️⃣ Review the Past Year

This part is simple. Take 10-20 minutes and ask yourself these questions:

  • What went well this past year?
  • What didn’t go well this past year?

Shoot for 5-6 answers for each of these questions and you’ll slowly create two lists summarizing your year. If you’re curious, here’s what 2021 looked like for me and my family:

  • What went well this year I got back into a better writing rhythm. I got back to running consistently. My mother made considerable progress with her cancer treatment in 2021 🙌 I launched a learning community called Learn Stash with my friend, Emilio! Courtney started working on staff with me at Elevation and I celebrated our 10-year anniversary in Punta Cana and we took our kids on a special sea shell excursion in Charleston we’ll never forget.
  • What didn’t go well this year I got COVID in September and my family spent most of December battling the cold and flu. I’ll be putting renewed effort toward my physical health in 2022 to get back to 100%!

2️⃣ Dream About the Year Ahead

This is the fun part. Take another 10-20 minutes discussing the two lists you just created as well as the categories below. One of the best ways to plan for the year ahead is to look at what went well and plan for more of that.

Categories: Spiritual, Business, Relationships, Travel, Spiritual, Health/Fitness, Learning, Financial, etc.

Here are a few of my personal 2022 dreams:

Spiritual – Read Scripture and continue studying the biblical concept of “caring for the soul”

Relationships – Go out on 2 dates per month with my wife and take a family vacation to a new city sometime in 2022

Business – Work with Emilio to build Learn Stash to 1,000 active members who are looking to live purposefully

Health – Lift weights 3-4X per week and run 3-4X per week

Learning – Read 50+ books

Financial – Stick to our monthly budget and increase our giving YoY

3️⃣ Plan for the Year Ahead

This is the part where I recommend making the above practical by planning what all you will do in the year ahead and when you will do it.

It doesn’t have to be super complicated. Some things you might want to track daily, and others you might not want to track at all. Some you might put on the calendar, and others you might not.

Overall, the strategy here is to do enough planning to add intentionality but not so much that you overwhelm yourself with an unconquerable list 😉

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