The time right now is among my personal most enjoyable times of the year. Between Christmas and New Year’s Day is the perfect time to really reflect back on the last 12 month and then go ahead and plan next year.
Of course, you can do this review/planning process any time of the year.
And in fact, if you haven’t done a yearly plan so far, I would highly recommend that you start doing this review & planning process now for this and the coming year. You will be amazed at what this reviewing & planning can do to your overall sense of direction and practical achievement. It will take under 1 hour and it will be way worth it.
For me, this process is one of the biggest sources for what I would call my personal successes. It is a 2 step process of I. Reviewing and II. Planning.
Phase I. Review
What I first do is writing a review of the whole past year. This is a summary of what happened and what was important to me. I start this as a free writing exercise and then try to focus on my life areas: especially on the Big 7 life areas:
- Social (Friends & Family)
- Finances and Possessions
Since I usually have done this process the year before as well, I will then review my goals and achievements of the past year. I will see the personal developments that I’m proud of and I will also notice the changes that I didn’t like.
This process of self-reflection helps to notice the changes in your life and it also creates clarity of what needs to change in the coming year (but more on that in Phase II).
If you want to have some more inspiration and guidance for the Review part, start with asking and answering some questions like:
What have you learned this year?
What were your biggest successes?
Have you hit your goals for the year?
What was the biggest surprise?
What do you want to follow along with in the coming year?
What do you want to end?
Follow up with questions that lead you to summarize and lead you to understanding on a broader level:
Are you happy today?
Are your loved ones happy?
About what are you happy?
For what are you grateful today?
After your review it’s time to keep this momentum of the insights from the last year. Now you can channel these ideas and emotions into your plan for the next year.
Phase II. Plan Ahead
This is the exciting phase of planning the next year. Right after your review of the last year you will have a lot of things you want to improve.
Most of it will come naturally now. Write this down. Then again, I would suggest to focus on your life-areas (see the Big 7 above) to make sure that you create true balance in your life.
So I personally start with my relationships. Then I go to my business, then to my health and so on.
These questions may help you:
What are the areas you want to expand on in your life?
What specifically do you want to achieve next year?
What dream to you want to fulfill next year?
With whom do you want to (re-)connect?
How can you make your life more simple?
Where do you want to travel?
How can you achieve these?
Some final tips:
When you write your yearly plan, try to find some solutions to where you identified problems in the last year. Then try to focus on things that fulfill you emotionally. This will make sure you’re looking forward to what you plan. Also find some things that really get you outside of your comfort zone, one new thing.
Finally, I would use this plan to write some short and precise goals for the year. Personally I also create a mind-map with my 7 big life-areas and the goals I have in those.
So get going now!
Good luck and have fun!
Akin is the author of the book "THE INTERNET: a town square for the global village.