When it comes time to reflect on the year, I often go all-out, writing a long document about my year. I love savoring how my projects have grown me. This year, though, I am deep in the revision of my book and don’t have space to write a long annual review. But I found a quick and fun way to reflect on my year, and I am so glad I did.
While on a recent plane trip, I took out my journal and made a two-page calendar, one box for each month. I identified a few categories – work, personal, travel, education, then filled in the boxes with things I had done throughout 2018.
It made me laugh to see that on the first couple of passes, I had forgotten major things like the Summer Chillenge. I also forgot the three weeks I spent in Paris working on patterns for my 100 Day Project. Or that I had learned so much about home renovation through choosing paint, tile and floor stains for our new home.
While it’s cool to see the events and things that happened, adding a reflection process can elevate the annual review beyond a list of what happened. Two things make this process more potent: values and stories. Try this four-step process to elevate your annual review process quickly.
First, list significant events from your year. Do this across a timeline, or in boxes on paper or notebook. This may take a few days. Go through photos and your calendar to spark your memory.
Next, add values. When looking at each event, ask yourself what values were being most honored. For me, doing the 100 Day Project, making 100 patterns, was one way I honored learning, creativity and sharing. Working on my book was a way to honor my value of doing good work that has a lasting impact.
Then, make a list of the stories you have been telling. What are the stories about? Are you cast as the heroine or victim? What transformation has taken place in these stories? I often recount the story of our honeymoon in Hawaii and the flood that gave it a much different ending than expected. I have also been telling stories about the process of writing my book this year. In both stories, I recognize a resilient yet adaptable heroine.
Sharing our stories helps us process our experiences. This is how we make meaning. Look back over your year and see what meaning you have made. What stories reflect who you want to be?
Lastly, look ahead. If you want to use this reflection process to make changes for 2019, go back to your values list. What values do you want to see lived more fully? Identify those and the list activities or experiences would honor those values.
Look at the stories you have been telling. Is there a different story you want to tell? My friend and mentor Jonathan Fields has a card that says “If you don’t like the story you’re telling, write a new ending.”
Enjoy this quick annual review process. Add it to your own reflection process or do it as is. Let us know how this review process goes for you in a comment below.