Every year I devote an entire week—and usually several weeks of blog posts—to an Annual Review, where I look back on the previous year and make plans for the coming year.
Many of our readers now do the same thing, some by following the same structure I use and others by modifying it to suit their own needs.
This year the review is considerably abridged, mostly due to my recent tour of India. When the option came to decide about the trip, it was a tough call. I don’t think it would always be the right decision to shorten the important Annual Review process, but in this case I was so excited to visit India that I decided to switch it up a little.
Anyway, enough preamble. Here’s how it works:
For a good overview of the Annual Review process, see the original outline I wrote way back in 2008. An additional overview from 2009 may also be helpful. In short, I look back on the year and ask myself a series of questions, journaling the answers in a paper notebook. The questions start very simply:
What went well this year?
What did not go well this year?
The main part of the planning session focuses on the year to come, but before looking forward I spend at least one of the days reflecting back on the year that is ending. I can usually identify a number of answers for each question—successes and failures, times where I was happy or proud and other times where I knew I fell short.
Next, I’ll review all of the goals that I set the previous December, and write out the results. Did everything happen as I expected? Probably not, but it’s interesting to compare results with expectations and see what overlaps and what diverges. In addition to personal lessons, I’ll also write down a list of business lessons I learned during the year, and a roundup of all the countries and cities I traveled to.
This leads to the next, longer stage of the planning process where I look ahead to the forthcoming year, carefully thinking about which projects I’d like to pursue and which actions I need to take to ensure their success.
What Went Well in 2012
Since this is an abridged review for me this year, let’s start right away. 2012 was another big year! Looking over my notes, I was surprised at how much we packed in. (But as I’ve said before, when you do things you love and regularly challenge yourself, you shouldn’t be surprised that you can do a lot.)
Here are a few highlights from the year:
*The launch of my second book, The $100 Startup, and the tour to 30+ cities (so far!). I’ve worked on this book for more than three years, and I was thrilled to see it debut well. Thanks to the support of our great readers, the book was a New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestseller, staying on each list for at least five weeks. The book continues to sell well, and more importantly, every day I continue to hear from readers who have applied the lessons from the book to their own projects.
*The local team and I hosted our second annual World Domination Summit in Portland, this time with 1,000 attendees from at least two dozen countries. From start to finish, all of us were very proud of the results. (You can see the trailer here. The final ticket sale for the 2013 event will be held in January.)
*At the end of WDS, we gave away $100,000 in cash as a $100 Investment in each attendee. WDS would have been a success without this surprise (and we won’t be repeating it in the future), but I’m glad we took the risk on it. We’ve been hearing many stories from attendees on how they’ve put their funds to good use, and we’ll be featuring some of them for next year’s WDS.
*I’ve almost finished visiting every country in the world! File under: Whoa. I haven’t even counted up the new countries I made it to this year, but I’m sure it’s at least a dozen. In addition to the dozen new countries, I visited at least another dozen countries I’ve been to before.
*I signed the agreement for writing the next book, which is all about QUESTS. I’ve now begun the research process and am looking forward to the writing process in 2013.
*As mentioned, I got the chance to tour India in support of the book. Meeting readers over that way was great. I’m glad I took the trip, and it was especially good to travel with Jolie to a country we have both long admired.
What Did Not Go Well in 2012
Thinking about what did not go well is just as important as reviewing the highlights. As with the successes, this list is somewhat abridged, but I do try to share openly and transparently with those who follow AONC. Therefore, here are a few things I regret or feel troubled by.
*Poor follow-through on a few business projects. I don’t feel like every aspect of my business is fully aligned with my life, and this bothers me.
*Though I love it, I’m exhausted from the few previous months of travel. Getting to Guinea Bissau (and back) was especially rough. More than once I thought: if this were country #150 instead of #191, I’m not sure I could continue at this pace.
*It’s been hard being away from home more than I’d like, and sometimes I feel that I’m not the greatest friend and family member. As mentioned in The Goal recently, I want to be in harmony with all relationships, and constantly being “everywhere” is tough for that.
Pretty much all of these things relate to the same core issue: I’ve become somewhat frustrated with myself even while fulfilling some pretty big goals. I feel like I’m not doing the best job with convergence, something I write about fairly often.
I’ve never been interested in life-work balance, but I am interested in overall alignment. That’s what convergence is about, so as I look ahead to next year I’ll want to pay attention to these concerns (while still pursuing big goals, of course).
That’s My Story … What About You?
Please let us know a few highlights and—if you’d like—a few challenges.
Oh, and Merry Christmas Eve / Happy Everything to each of you!
While thinking through the Annual Review, I’ve also been thinking about what a big honor it is to have the chance to write for so many amazing people. More on this later.
*Another great (and also free!) yearly planning resource comes from Susannah Conway.