The year is winding down and we’re looking at that fresh, shiny new slate that a new year represents. At this point in the year you may be feeling overwhelmed as you’re ready to move on. But before you dive into those new goals, you need to take the time to look back over the last year and evaluate how things went.
While it’s easy to just leave the old year in the dust, it’s really helpful to reflect on the previous year and see what you can learn from it. And let’s not forget the wise words of George Santayana from his book The Life of Reason,
“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
We move forward by mindfully reviewing the past.
Being mindful about looking over your last year in review also means being kind and gentle with the process. The goal isn’t to focus on all the things that you think went wrong, failed projects, or missed opportunities. This isn’t about getting down on yourself. Instead it’s an opportunity to be open minded and calm in the evaluation process.
One way to take the emotion out of the equation is to pretend that you’re doing an evaluation for a friend. Yes, I know, that old joke, “it’s not for me, it’s for a friend” but in this particular instance that may be one of the best ways to handle this. By removing the emotion you may be able to be more detached as you review the patterns and trends that occurred throughout this last year and how they impacted your goals.
Instead, focus on looking for patterns and trends that you encountered on the way to your goals.
4 tips to review this last year
Focus, focus, focus
If you’re like most people, you lead a pretty busy life. Lots of different obligations, you’re wearing multiple hats, and things tend to be very hectic. Your last year review, however, is not a place where you want to skimp on time or attention. It’s important that you set side the time to truly be able to dig deep and thoroughly review the prior year. This means putting your phone in airplane mode, closing the computer, logging off of social media, and making sure that you have no distractions.
When you’re scheduling this appointment with yourself take a moment to think about what would be the best time of day for you. Try to pick a time when you feel alert and your energy levels are good. If you’re not a morning person, don’t make it a task over your first morning cup of coffee. If you’re a couch potato by the end of the day, don’t schedule it for the end of your day. You want to be firing on all cylinders and getting the most out of your review.
Select Your Space
There’s nothing more disruptive to an evaluation than to be interrupted. As we talked about above, we want to remove all of the electronic disturbances. But that also goes for your physical space. You need a calm setting to create the right atmosphere while you are doing your evaluation. If you’re cooking dinner, wrangling kids, paying bills, and folding laundry, you’re more than likely not going to be able to focus enough to develop a clear picture of what last year really looked like.
You also want to make sure that your space is restful and relaxing. If you like music, find something soft and relaxing. Don’t like music when you’re working? Then don’t play any. Consider using a diffuser with essential oils that promote focus such as lemon, bergamot, sage, or basil. It’s all about setting up a space that will allow you to get the most out of your time.
Once you’ve made up your mind to go through this process you may find yourself feeling a sense of pressure to get it done but rather than rushing in you’ll want to approach this exercise mindfully. Break it down into several sessions so you can make sure you are really considering all angles and getting the most out of it.
Use the checklist below to break your review into manageable chunks. Consider setting aside 1 hour per checklist item (you may not need that much but if you budget your time for it you’ll be sure to have the space to really consider the item). You may also want to think about doing one checklist item per day in order to start each section with a clear head. By approaching the process logically you’ll find that you are able to focus on the last year in review without being stressed out or overwhelmed. This also allows you to develop a clear plan for the year ahead.
- Review (or create if necessary) core values and vision statement
- List goals created at the beginning of last year
- Document achievements from the past year
- Document challenges encountered throughout the year
- Evaluate and review goals, achievements, and challenges
- Document areas that require development or training
- Create an action plan and new goal statements for the year ahead
Below are a few resources that I’ve gathered together to help you make get the best out of the last year review to support you in 2019 and in future years.
- Plan your success by incorporating the Productivity Planner by Intelligent Change. Well laid out and easy to use this is an excellent tool to help you stay focused on success Productivity Planner
- Need help learning how to overcome the overwhelm? Stop Spinning Your Wheels has the information you need to help you get your Yearly Review on track so you can focus on success in the year ahead.Stop Spinning Your Wheels-Four Ways to Stop Overanalyzing Everything
- Incorporating gratitude into our daily life has been shown to be highly beneficial for our mental health and can also be a way to help you with the review process a year from now. Gratitude-A Mindful Pause by Mira Dessy
Mira Dessy is The Ingredient Guru. She is the author of two books: The Pantry Principle: how to read the label and understand what’s really in your food and Beyond Meditation: making mindfulness accessible for everyone. A holistic nutritionist and a popular public speaker, she knows that it’s not just what you eat, but what’s in what you eat. Mira is a Board Certified Holistic Health Practitioner who has been working with clients for over 10 years. You can learn more about Mira at her website The Ingredient Guru.