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How to Conduct Your Own Annual Review

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Every year since 2005, I’ve spent the better part of a week in late December planning my life for the next year. Overall, this is probably the best decision I’ve made in terms of working towards multiple goals simultaneously.

The idea is to create a road map for the year ahead—not a rigid daily schedule, but an overall outline of what matters to me and what I hope to achieve in the next year. I complete this process in bits and pieces over several days, partly because of my ADD brain but also because it helps to think about it slowly. Some of you who have the ability to concentrate on one thing for hours at a time may prefer to do it all at once.

In this essay I’ll take you step-by-step through what I do every December to help plan the next year. I’ll show you the spreadsheet template I use and provide examples through each part of the process. You certainly don’t have to use my system, but you’re welcome to it if you want.

By the way, the kind of goal-setting I practice and advocate is vastly different from:

  • Resolutions that are broken after January 10. I don’t make resolutions; I make a plan of action based on what matters to me.
  • Vague or non-measurable Goals (“Be Happier,” “Make More Money,” and so on). We all want to be happier and have more money. This process requires that each goal be measurable and specific.
  • A rigid plan you have to live with if you hate. You can always change it later for any reason. It’s your plan, right? And since you’re the one making it, you shouldn’t hate it.

Devoting time to this exercise is like doing an Annual Review at work, except usually more productive and always more fun. When Annual Reviews at work are done well, they usually focus on a blend of what you’re doing right (affirmation) and what you can improve on (constructive criticism). Hopefully, you go away feeling excited about future goals and resolved to move on from any failures. Yes, I know it doesn’t always go that way at work, but the success of your personal Annual Review is dependent on only one person—you.

The Spreadsheet

Here you can download a template based on what I use to do this exercise. Feel free to use it as is, modify it however you’d like, or start over to make something that works better for you. I use it because it makes sense to me, but the important thing is to find something you are comfortable with.

Annual Review Template – Excel

I like the form of the spreadsheet for easy editing and tracking throughout the year. However, I do a lot of the “thinking work” with pen and paper in a notebook before transferring it to the laptop.

For the thinking work, I recommend a Moleskine notebook, a $3 pen, and a week-long absence from the world. You’ll have to sort the last one out on your own. As I said, the process can be accelerated if needed.

Starting Out

To begin the process, I ask myself two questions and try to come up with at least 6-8 answers to each:

  • What went well this year?
  • What did not go well this year?

For these answers, I’m mostly interested in events I have control over. If something did not go well that I couldn’t prevent or control, it doesn’t need to go on the list.

In case you’re curious, my list this year consists of these things (among others):

What Went Well – After at least two years of thinking about it, I began the Art of Nonconformity site and met or exceeded most of my initial goals for it. I set a personal record for my international travel, visiting at least 27 countries. I also earned my Master’s Degree from the University of Washington and said goodbye to formal education for the time being.

What Did Not Go Well – What turned out to be a persistent running injury prevented me from running my fourth marathon. My income declined considerably, in part due to the declining economy but also due to my choice to focus more on writing than entreprenurial projects.

I like completing this list before doing any future planning. I’ve said before that we tend to overestimate what we can do in an average day but underestimate what can be done over the course of a year. Looking at a whole year in review, you may be surprised at everything you’ve accomplished.

(And next year, if you take this goal-setting process seriously, you may be even more surprised with how much you’ve done over the year.)

Results from Last Year

Next, I look at the goals I set last year (you’ll see how the process works below) and make notes in the column designated “Final Review.” Did I achieve the goal or not?

There are usually a few goals that I don’t achieve for whatever reason. Sometimes circumstances change and the goal is no longer relevant. Other times, of course, I just fall short – like I did with not being able to run much in the fall. Since I’ve been doing the Annual Review, my success rate is around 80%. I think that’s a good percentage, because if I consistently achieved 100% of my goals, I’d worry I was setting them too low.

This year my results were more mixed than usual – I haven’t gone through everything yet, but I expect the success rate will be about 70%. It was also somewhat imbalanced, since some goals were achieved quite early and others became irrelevant throughout the year.

PLANNING FOR NEXT YEAR

Next, I start looking towards the future, based on goals that are set by category. Here are the categories that I use:

Writing, Business, Friends & Family, Service, Travel, Spiritual, Health, Learning, Financial (Earning), Financial (Giving), Financial (Saving)

While thinking about each category over the course of a week (off and on), I set an average of 3-5 measurable goals for each. Here’s what a few of them looked like for me throughout 2008:

Health –

1. Run my third marathon in the spring with family.
2. Maintain ongoing schedule of running at least 15-20 miles a week.
3. Continue weekly strength training program when possible.
4. Consider beginning a new sport in January.
5. Run my fourth marathon in Portland or Vancouver in the fall.

In this case, I achieved the first three goals, but did not start playing a new sport in January (or anytime during the year) and did not run the fourth marathon.

Travel –

1. Visit 25 countries, including 15 new countries if possible.
2. Purchase and Travel on a OneWorld Round-the-World ticket for summer “Lonely Places” tour.
3. Travel to Liberia to speak to my NGO friends.
4. Plan for and take a vacation with Jolie in December.

In this case, I did not travel to Liberia, but I did achieve the other three goals.

You’ll notice that I have several categories for finance. This is because each category has to do with money, but they are actually quite distinct. I break it up like this:

Financial (Income) – Simply put, how much money do I want to earn and where will it come from? Since I’m self-employed, my money comes from several different sources. I identify each one and set a goal for each.

Financial (Giving) – Giving is important to me, and I’ve learned I give more when I plan for it. I identify a target percentage of income and several specific gifts I want to make.

Financial (Savings) – I need to save for several things on a regular basis: a) long-term savings that I put in a retirement account, b) short-term savings, including the end-of-year vacation funds, and c) savings for taxes.

(Also due to being self-employed, I have to pay taxes four times a year, and I don’t always do a good job of having money in the bank when the time comes.)

The rest of the category goals are set in a similar fashion. Some of my other goals for 2008 were:

  • Read 52 books
  • Complete my M.A. degree
  • Make writing the most important thing I do all year
  • Buy a new OneWorld Round-the-World plane ticket
  • Interview with literary agents and sign initial contract
  • Facilitate leadership retreat for the non-profit board I work with
  • Attend three plays and two cultural events in Seattle

The Second Column

The second column is called “Actions Required for Each Goal.” In other words, what do I need to do (next) to achieve each goal?

Attention: This is very important! Without completing this section, you’ll have a vision without a plan. You need to have both.

Remembering that the goals need to be measurable is one of the most important predictors of success in the coming year. To sort out the next actions, I always think, “What do I need to do to achieve this?”

To run a marathon, I need to start running 3 miles at a time, 3 times a week.

To travel to my one place, I need to save $2 a day.

To graduate college, I need to fulfill or negate a number of requirements that gatekeepers have designed to keep me in the system for a while. What are they, and what do I need to do next?

I capture the major actions for each goal and put them in the second column of the spreadsheet. For GTD fanatics, I should mention that I don’t actually capture all of the micro actions at this point. As an example, let’s say my goal is to publish an academic paper. I think of it like this:

Goal: Submit paper to XYZ Journal for publication

Required Actions: Decide on topic, conduct literature review, write first draft, get feedback, write additional drafts, and submit for approval.

The long list of micro actions (“tasks” in GTD-speak) might include 10 or more items for each of those “next actions,” but that’s OK for me. As long as I have the major ones there, I know that I’ll be working on the project at some point in my notebook and can break it down further.

Reminders

I tend to look at my goals every month, but I set up a longer (30 minutes or so) review every quarter. I call these the Spring, Summer, and Fall reviews. The Final Review is what I’m doing now, in the process of planning out the next year’s projects.

Possible Additional Goals

While I’m working on this, I usually identify a few goals that I decide not to put in the categories because they may or may not happen throughout the course of the year. I include these at the bottom of the spreadsheet.

Last year, these possibilities were on my list:

  • Qualify for Boston Marathon
  • Hire a part-time personal assistant
  • Host Ken in Seattle
  • Host Mary in Seattle
  • If no grad school, visit PDX with Jolie before April
  • Write second manifesto to follow-up on World Domination

(In this case, about half of these possibilities turned into real projects and the other half didn’t. I definitely didn’t come close to qualifying for the Boston Marathon! That one will go in the possible goals again for next year, although it’s still a long shot with all the travel I do.)

Theme for the Year

I also have a theme and one-paragraph statement for the year. This is the summary of the whole year – what’s it going to look like? Who will I be for the next year?

Since I started doing the review three years ago, here are the themes I’ve chosen for myself:

Year of Transition (2006) – When Jolie and I both focused on returning to the U.S. after four years away and began building a new life in Seattle

Year of Learning and Preparation (2007) – When I focused on completing most of the requirements for my graduate degree and getting ready for the next stage of life

Year of the Revolution (2008) – When I completed grad school, started the writing project, and formalized my goal of visiting every country in the world. (I wrote in the theme statement: “This time next year, my life will be very different,” and indeed that is the case.)

I think I’ve got my 2009 theme and statement ready to go now, but I’m going to spend a few more days considering it to make sure.

By the way, you might think I put this section at the beginning of the process, but instead I wait for the end because I need to understand which goals I am more excited about pursuing and what my overall life is shaping up to be.

In 2006, for example, I knew that transition would be a major theme since we were preparing to leave Africa, settle in a new city, and begin a new university program.

In 2007, I sensed I would be preparing for something completely different in the future. That year, I knew that the theme would have more to do with being in one place (most of the time) while getting ready to launch something completely different the following year.

Metrics

On a separate tab of the spreadsheet, I keep up with a few general metrics from year to year, including these:

  • New Countries Visited
  • All Countries Visited
  • Charity %
  • Charity Total
  • People on Life List
  • Major Projects Accomplished
  • Long-term Savings
  • Income Sustainability Formula (in months)

I’ll probably add a couple of new ones this year to reflect my shift to spending more time on writing — perhaps categories like Blog Posts, Number of Readers, Number of True Fans, Progress towards Book, and so on.

I don’t really do much with these during the year, but it’s nice to look back over the past four years and see what’s happened. (Unfortunately, with the death of the stock market, a couple of those financial goals have gone backwards.)

Note: Your categories may be similar to mine, but I suspect your metrics will be quite different. Some categories are fairly general (health, learning, etc.) but almost all metrics are highly specific.

THE FINISHED PRODUCT

With the goals properly documented, I set out to achieve them over the next year. I complete the next actions for each goal, or at least as many as possible. After completing the next actions, sometimes new actions materialize, so I start working on those next.

After I finish the Annual Review, then and only then do I break out the GTD and other productivity tools that I use throughout the year. I’d rather do the right things poorly than the wrong things efficiently, so I spend more time thinking about these kinds of high-level things than about how I can save 5 minutes a day.

The achieving of goals is something I write about often, but if you’re new here, the following essays might help orient you:

A Short Collection of Unconventional Ideas
How to Stand Out in Any Job

Lifestyle Design and Your Ideal World

Also, I enjoyed learning from Randy Pausch’s Time Management Program (here it is in video form if you prefer).

“But I don’t like setting goals…”

The most common objection I hear to this kind of planning is something like, “But I don’t like to plan, because there are too many unexpected variables.”

Yes, things do change – negative effects like the declining economy or a personal injury, and positive effects like a new job or new relationship. The plan is designed to give you a road map, not a strict schedule you have to live by. Life does come along and change things, but it doesn’t happen as often as you think. Andy Warhol put it very well:

They say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.

That’s a great philosophy to live by, don’t you think? The goal-setting exercise and Annual Review are all about changing things yourself instead of waiting for change to suddenly show up one day.

The second objection I hear is, “But what if I end up hating the plan later?” My short answer to that is if you really hate the plan later, you can discard it and create another. It’s your life, after all. But since you are the one making the plan, it’s unlikely that you’ll completely hate it.

Wrap-Up

I maintain a lot of different roles, both professional and personal. It’s how I like to work, and I know that you are probably a busy person too. When someone asks how I can do “so much,” I always mention this week-long planning process. There is no hidden secret to working towards a lot of big goals at the same time, but taking the time to clearly define specific objectives each year has helped me more than anything else.

Remember, we tend to underestimate what we can do in an average year. Set your goals high. Take some time to do this right, and you’ll thank yourself later.

By using this exercise or creating your own, you might even have the best year of your life.

***

A Temporary Note for December 13-21: As you might guess, I am away from email access this week working on my Annual Review, so it will take a while to post comments and respond to messages. Feel free to share your feedback, and I’ll post everything as soon as I’m able. Thanks for understanding.

###

Image: JazzMaster

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231 Comments

  • Alan says:

    Fantastic essay.

  • Paul Dowd says:

    Great essay and template Chris! I’ll have to run away from home for a couple of days to get this done.

  • Jay says:

    Wow Chris- Those are very ambitious goals. I love the template- I am always looking for alternatives to the tired old New Year’s resolutions. I agree- so many people do not realize a year is a very long time. If you plan carefully, by December, you can look back at the past year, and not even recognize where you started from. Let us all have the best year ever!

  • Panzer says:

    Hi Chris

    I think the saying, “If we fail to plan, we plan to fail,” strikes true in many respects. Going through life day-by-day without having something bigger to strive for is about existing but not living.

    Focussing on outcomes rather than just blindly building processes for the sake of sticking to the plan definitely helps one to keep what is important in mind, to achieve something better in specific ways.

    Be well and prosper!

  • JE Gonzalez says:

    Cool article and very concise planning. I like to plan things out in my head as I feel silly writing but quite honestly you have set up a system that organizes everything beautifully. Do you also have a 10-year goal? Actor Tim Allen has a plan for the week, another one for the year and yet another one for the long-term. While I’m not sure that writing down is always necessary, a detailed plan, mental or otherwise should never be shunned.

  • Chris,

    Thank you so much for the Annual Review template! I already have a modified version that will surely see its share of edits in 2009. =)

    Keep up the amazing work!

    Best wishes,

    Elvis

  • Mary says:

    I loved your essay. I have been trying to set 2009 goals with steps for the last two weeks. Thanks for the spreadsheet, it will ease the process.

  • Rachel Byrum says:

    So inspired! I WILL be using this over my Christmas break. This is EXCELLENT, and just what I need right now!

  • Mariana says:

    I love the level of detail in this entry, and the flexibility of your model –far from the preaching mode that productivity tools and books tend to use.

    Keep up enlightening us, Chris!

  • Ben Young says:

    Thanks Chris for sharing this :)

    We share the same minds on certain things! Every year I do the same, apart from I kind of spend the last two months thinking about what I’d like to do next year and how to achieve it. Then after New Years the first two weeks I kind of sit down and plan it out, then break it up into quarterly goals. Which then I sit down and figure my monthly goals for the first quarter and go from there. I’ve been doing this for about 6 years now and always had outstanding results.

    This year due to illness for 4 months I haven’t been able to complete some of my financial goals but the others are all knocked off!

    If you don’t do this, try it next year, it really works.

  • Zoe says:

    This is an excellent idea. I’ll use your spreadsheet with a few modifications, ’cause then I have no excuse not to get this done. Not sure if I’ll be able to block off a whole week for it, though.

  • Tara Joyce says:

    Chris, thank you. I will certainly be using this template to help me create an inspiring 2009 for myself and others. I will also be sure to share your ideas with my readers. I know they would be of great use to them.

    Your post also helped me to look back on the year that was and take pleasure in my achievements, however big or small.

    Thank you for your continued inspiration.

  • Erdal ANIK says:

    I read lots of essays about this topic before, and this is the best. Examples and Excel Template have added great value to it. Thanks a lot Chris.

  • Charlotte says:

    Excellent! I really like this idea (I’ve done some annual planning, but not something as extensive as this, for years) and will be putting it into practice. Great template.

  • Debi says:

    This is a FANTABULOUS post, Chris, and a process that just can’t help but serve the folks who’ll commit to it. That said, I think it’s probably unrealistic (and perhaps even excuse-generating) to suggest that the process requires an entire week. (Don’t get me wrong, though: I think it’s GREAT that you spend a week with it.)

    A thought/fantasy: What if all the time people spend in December on shopping-wrapping-etc. tasks was spent instead on creating a specific understanding of where they’ve been and where they’re heading in Life; on creating a “most desired outcome” record for the coming year… and maybe not just for themselves but for their relationships, too, be that with an employer, spouse, child, etc. What if our “seasonal tradition” was about sharing *that info* with the other people in our lives instead of sharing *things*? A girl can dream, eh?

    Thanks very much for sharing your process with us, and my very best wishes to you on achieving your 2009 plans!

  • This is awesome. Thank you.

  • Ayprel says:

    Great read!

  • Marlina says:

    I’ve been doing my own personal year planning and review for the past few years too. I think I developed the habit when I started my own business — since I review and plan my business for the year ahead, why not my own life, eh?

    In my annual review, I also have lists of things that “went well” (things working out according to plan) and “did not go well”. In addition, I also have a list for “unplanned good happenings”.

    I didn’t anticipate the ongoing economic crisis and it has set back quite a few of my goals (both business and personal) BUT looking at my last list, I have a lot of good things that happened that was never in the plan, so there’s much to be grateful for.

  • Chris says:

    Hi everyone. Thanks so much for all your feedback and kind words about this. I wish I could respond to each comment, but obviously my time is limited this week.

    For now, good luck with your own planning! I look forward to connecting more personally soon.

  • Nana Yaa says:

    Wow! This is quite awesome. Will definitely use the guidelines for myself.

  • Sara Borghi says:

    Dear Chris,

    my name is Sara and I’m an Italian girl aged 25 …and also, a big fan of yours !

    I’ve found this post so beautiful and useful that I’ve decided to translate it entirely in my language (Italian).
    You can find it here, if you’re interested (by the way, i hope you’re not bothered by my initiative! ) :

    http://saraboargs.wordpress.com/2008/12/19/buoni-propositi-per-il-2009/

    You’re AWESOME and thanks for inspiring me day by day,

    Merry Christmas,

    Sara

  • AnnieInRussia says:

    Just curious, how does your wife factor into your goal-reviews and goal-setting process? Obviously you consider her when creating the goals, but does she have input in this process, too? Do you set “family” goals together?

  • Matt says:

    Great essay, I will be using a modified form of your spreadsheet to plan 2009 for me. I think I hold much more potential than I actually accomplish in a year and hopefully this will help me do more and enjoy life more. I really like the metrics tab, I do much better when I see positive progress of goals and accomplishment.

  • Chris says:

    OK, I am now in the land of the internet again and can be more prompt. Thank you all again for your comments. I’ll respond to a few specific notes below.

    @Annie,

    Yes, we each talk through our individual goals together, although the initial creation is done separately. As for “Family” goals, we usually have a joint “Hospitality” goal of some kind – “host x dinners for friends” would be an example of that. There is also some overlap in the “Spiritual and Community” category for us.

    @Sara,

    I’ve already told you how incredible it is that you translated the entire post into Italian, but I thought I would mention it here too. I hope it is very helpful to your readers.

    @Je,

    “Do I also have a 10-year plan?” – good question. I have a 5-year concept that is somewhat related to the Annual Review. I wouldn’t call it a plan – it’s more a set of broad goals that will take more than a year. I tend to spend the most time working on the yearly plan. I’m not sure that’s best for everyone; it’s just what works well for me.

    @everyone,

    Have a great Christmas and Hanukkah week!

  • Jes says:

    Thanks for the great article, Chris! Next week I am planning on setting some big goals for next year, so linking to this article from the link in your newsletter today was perfect timing! I really liked that you included the excel doc you use and specific examples of your goals.

    Happy Holidays!

  • AnnieinRussia says:

    Thanks! I understand how to make all my own goals, but was trying to figure out how this fit with “doing life together” with another person.

  • Hi

    Very inspiring post and method. Gonna give it a try…and stumble for others to benefit.

    Thank you
    Juliet

  • Donnie says:

    I just wanted to thank you for this streamlined and fabulous Annual Review Template. Thank you for being so open with your life and for putting out all of this lovely info for free!!! I will definitely be back to visit. Happy New Year!

  • Anne says:

    This was a fantastic post! It inspired me conduct my own annual review. It was not nearly as detailed or thorough as yours, but it enabled me to think back on the events of 2008 and determine the direction I would like to take for 2009.

    Happy New Year!
    Anne

  • Dan Pierson says:

    Chris, you continue to be an inspiration (and my favorite blogger on the ‘Net). I haven’t posted before, but I read your posts religiously, and thoroughly enjoy them.

    Every major blogger seems to have an idea about how to construct a viable plan for ’09, but (as usual) the ANC stood apart from the rest, and I used your template to plan my upcoming domination. Here’s to more success in the New Year.

    All the best,
    Dan

  • Genevieve says:

    Very interesting post. I’m not sure I like the outside metrics — these are so subjective anyways! I think you know in your heart whether you lived up to your goals — that’s what really matters. And making a list makes you have specific goals to work for in your evolution, at least!
    I usually write a list of 100 resolutions for the new year, and try not to read it again until the end of the year. 70-80% sounds about right, though I don’t specify. With 100 I usually cover everything whether I wanted to or not!
    Perhaps next year I’ll try your method….

  • This is very inspiring and I think it really needs guts to do it, because writing down your goals mean action – and this is the most difficult thing: Taking the first step!

    A great read!
    Sebastian

  • Mil says:

    Just found you and your website is very relevant to my life. Just got laid off, I’m happy, and I will use the time to reflect. Thanks! Keep up the good work. I’m so glad I found you.

  • Jill Demby Guest says:

    Chris,
    This is great. Inspiring and manageable at the same time.
    Uncoventional takes courage but it’s the way to go.

  • Madeleine says:

    Hi Chris,
    Just came across your site a few days ago but already loving it. Re this annual review, i’ve been doing it for a few years myself after having read a little book called “best year yet”. It also focuses on the role that is most important for your the coming year and what specific guidelines will improve the quality of your life if you stick to them for an entire year. You start with reviewing your past year. I’m going to use your approach alongside my own next time and even do a half year review to see where it might help me improve my current plan ;-)

    Re financials – when I started my own business I got two pieces of advice from a successful coaching friend:
    1) outsource all the things that are not your expertise (eg. accounting in my case) so you can spend all your time on what you really want to do and
    2) set aside 50% of whatever you make right away.

    The benefit of nr 2 is that a) i can always pay my taxes and b) i end up receiving a nice financial surprise when the year is up and I pay my overall taxes. As I never have to pay the full 50%. I set it aside on an account with a nice interest rate and bingo!

    Well anyway, just read about your contest, 279 days article and there is lots more so I’m off… reading and catching up!

    Ciao Madeleine

  • Chris – I just came across your website since we were both featured on Taylor Davidson’s about “people with cool lives.”

    I love, respect, admire and am inspired by who you are what you’re doing. I feel as if we’re kindred spirits, I’m just a few steps behind you because just this February I stared my blog, The Causemopolitan, and my life has changed every single day since then. I’m on my third continent this year, spending 3 months in the Philippines having been awarded a Fellowship through Kiva.org in microfinance.

    I think a big part of my personal changes for 2009 came from doing annual review exercises like the one you wrote about above. Mine is slightly different, but 2009 was the second year I did it and my life is exponentially different from analyzing myself, my progress, what gifts I want to share with the world, what knowledge I want to seek out. It’s been truly remarkable.

    I’m on 33 countries and 45 U.S. states, my life goal had always been 100 – now I’m thinking I should reconsider! I’m looking forward to, now, following your blog and adventures and hope to meet in person one day!

    Best,
    Sloane

  • Alex Murphy says:

    My mother introduced me to your site and I absolutely love it! All your work so far has been helping me reorient my life. Keep up the good work!

    Alex Murphy

  • Oleg Mokhov says:

    Hey Chris,

    And an annual review can bring clarity and direction to let you focus on what’s important to you. Better to be effective at a few things than uselessly productive at a lot.

    An annual review is like a checkpoint for your life where you refocus on what’s important and drop what’s not. Like you mentioned, only go all GTD once your goals are figured out.

    If you’re endlessly busy but lack clarity and direction, than you’ll be productive but not effective. You’ll get a lot of things done, but do they really matter?

    Hope this year is your best yet, and that next year will be even better,
    Oleg

  • Chris,

    Great stuff. I am really enjoying your site and your writings. Thanks!

    Glenn

  • amy koehler says:

    Love this. Printing out & hanging up. Thanks for the kick in the butt!

  • Sarah says:

    i have been doing exactly this for the past couple of years and in fact i try to explain it to people all the time because i feel i have benefited tons from doing so. however i usually grab a couple of markers and make an actual kindergarden style map after i decide what is important to me. so now i’d been googling for a template so that this year i didnt have such a dissheveled and silly looking thing hanging on my wall….im going to put a link to your page on my fb…thanks

  • Layla says:

    I love this idea and plan to set aside some time this weekend to do my own annual review. Thanks for sharing!

  • I know this is an older post, but it’s fabulous. Tyler over at FrugallyGreen introduced readers to this site/blog and I’m loving it. It’s so fabulous to watch folks cultivate their own, unique and brave lives. Kudos!

  • Man I discovered this at the right time! a week off work and time to reflect and since it’s heading into 2010…. it’s great to sit down and reflect on the whole past decade! thanks chris your site is very authentic and sincere.

  • Great post. When goal setting I find it important to also add a list of why you want to achieve a specific goal. What do you think you will achieve when you get what you want. What state of being are you after? Often it is the ‘why’ that motivates us the most.

    I loved your spreadsheet. I think the first action is so important because of the pendulum effect. For some reason as soon as we start the rest just seems to happen. It’s often the first step which is the most difficult.

    Julie

  • Jeremy G. says:

    Perfect timing on this find. I’ve got this coming week off and am already tinkering with the spreadsheet. Thank you for sharing, Chris.

  • Myra says:

    Reading this article was, to quote Amy Koehler, “a kick in the butt” for me, too. Thank you.

  • Suzanne says:

    I’m beginning a new academic year. I’m giving myself space to plan and create room for possibilities. I’ll be spending much of next Thursday in silence. I’m using your spreadsheet and outline to shape the day. Thank you for this opportunity for gratitude as I reflect on the past and project possibilities for the future.

    Thank you for the way you serve Hope and help other create Joy,
    Suzanne

  • Trish / CotR says:

    This really helped me to feel like I have a starting point after reading your Brief Guide. It’s an exercise I’ve been meaning to undergo for at least 6-12 mos. now, but haven’t made the time to sit down and do it. You explain it in an easy-to-visualize-and-get-started way. Thanks.

  • gerryv says:

    Nice article.I fly over 50,000 miles a year ( 21st year) When I awake I glance at my things to do list.Errands to work projects etc.Planning allows me to stay : locked into the process” It also creates more time to enjoy the day.Get the painful stuff out of the way first. Just make sure you take the time to “press the pause button” once in awhile.Time to work and time to play.At times they don’t mix .At times they do.

    Make sure you list the name of a friend or two to either call or text or email to say hello.Checkup on the friends that are ill or that you know are having a tough time.

    Share a grin with them.

    V

  • Susan says:

    Simply put and yet with heartfelt gratitude….THANK YOU….I believe this article will help shape the coming year, 2011, for myself and my husband.

  • Eva says:

    This article is exactly what I was looking for, especially the spreadsheet. I am officially a fan of your website!

  • Michael Pinter says:

    Fantastic way to look back on last year and plan for next year. I am going to try to clear some time for this.

  • JAmes says:

    Thanks for this. So motivational, altruistic and useful.

  • As a BIG BIG THANK YOU- for this wonderful post and your spreadsheet – I will do something very small to show my appreciation- will order your book to start 2011 on the right note.

    Thanks again.

  • steveh says:

    This is exactly what I need to do. And since it is not quite 2011…Just in time!

  • Alex Rascanu says:

    Great article, Chris! This is a key resource I used in the development of my 2011 plan of action.

  • Love the template and the concept. I’m using it right now. Looking forward to this time next year when I can see how far I’ve come. Thank you for sharing.

  • I’m new to your site and work. Great essay! I also enjoyed the 279 days to Overnight Success, nicely done. I look forward to trying out your planning template and reading more of your work. Lastly, good idea on setting themes per year. I began a similar exercise three years ago and I find it helps with keeping the inspiration up when things “change.” Really terrific job overall! Glad to join this community of inspiring people and I’m in full support of your message and mission. Here’s to 2012.

  • Mara Mueller says:

    Thank you so very much for sharing your process. I’m coming to the end of my very first 5-day “strategic life planning retreat” and annual review. It’s been an amazing, eye-opening, and motivating process. I feel like after 10 years of floating around, doing plenty of interesting, valuable and meaningful jobs I’m now stepping on to a path that is more intentional, self-directed and powerful. I’m looking forward to this next year. I appreciate all you do to inspire the masses to do something different.

  • Can’t wait to dive into this tool. Just yesterday I wrote my manifesto for next year including some of the steps necessary, but this will put it in a more accessible layout. Thanks!

  • JJHausman says:

    I found this just in time for end of the year resolutions. For a while now I’ve been setting goals for the week on an index card I keep folded into my pocket. Great for pushing myself beyond comfort levels for a constant reminder of what I want to achieve. The idea of doing this for the year can only stack the effect. Thanks.

  • I read “The Art of Non-Conformity”, and I thoroughly enjoyed the book. One of my friends mentioned this to me and WOW…great information! Hopefully this will propel me into a great 2012!

  • אושפיזין says:

    מידע רב על סוכות, סוכה לנצח, סכך לסוכה

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  • Terence says:

    I’m amazed, I have to admit. Seldom do I encounter a blog that’s equally educative and
    entertaining, and let me tell you, you have hit the nail on the head.
    The problem is something which too few people are speaking intelligently about.
    I am very happy I found this during my hunt for something regarding this.

  • Amy A says:

    This is amazing and exactly what I need. As we are approaching the end of the year I am running out of space in my calendar and thought that I need to start planning for next year. How do you account for surprises? I mean things as big as getting fired or finding ‘the one’ and having to go thru that process or small changes like the company you planned to do a certain even t closes down the day before you were doing a particular event. Do you schedule for possibilities and ‘analyse’ accordingly or call them excuses?

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  • What’s up, I check your blogs regularly.
    Your humoristic style is witty, keep doing what you’re doing!

  • Hey there are using WordPress for your blog
    platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started
    and create my own. Do you need any coding knowledge to make
    your own blog? Any help would be greatly appreciated!

  • Excellent blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m hoping to start my own website soon but I’m a little lost
    on everything. Would you suggest starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for
    a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I’m totally
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  • Mitchel says:

    I’ve re-read this post annually for some time and still come away with actionable thoughts on constructing a new roadmap for next years success.

    Well done….again.

  • Kris Canniff says:

    Last year I informally created a theme which was ‘The year of ME’. That theme was my stake in the ground toward living a healthier life and it worked out very well. What I will do differently now is set concrete goals using your process. I’m excited to start it and plan for the best year ever in 2015 as I grow my business. Thank you Chris!

  • I have never planned anything since birth and this year was the worst year ever. I am happy that I came across this essay because I did not know where to start off. My 2015 would be a year of change from being passive with my life to being more active. I will be seriously spending time to plan my next year.

    Thank you Chris!

  • Paul Cwalina says:

    This is a great article about how to conduct your own annual review. Thanks for the advice.

  • Chris says:

    Looking forward to putting into practice some of your process this year!

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