Looking back on your year and making plans for 2023
As promised, I’m going to walk you through one of my favorite end-of-year rituals today: the YearPlanDay.
Each year between Christmas and New Year’s, I enjoy reflecting on the past year and looking ahead to the next. There’s always some hidden gem I’d forgotten all about.
So if you haven’t already, set aside a good chunk of a day or an evening this week or next and get started. It’s something you can do alone or together with friends and family, in person or remote. I’ll take you through everything you need in this newsletter.
Hope you’ll join me in doing some reflecting this December.
Why take the time to reflect?
First of all it’s fun to do. Looking back on your year can be super rewarding. You’ll be amazed how much you’ve forgotten. Seeing what you’ve gone through, and what all you managed to do, will give you every reason to be proud.
Looking back helps you do things differently in the future. You don’t even have to make new plans yet. Simply reflecting on the past year brings you insight that will work for you—consciously and unconsciously—well into 2023.
Maybe you’ll see just how much you enjoyed that long weekend you took. Or you’ll notice you were at your best those weeks you made time for a good book. Writing down this kind of observation about what works means it will undoubtedly be on your mind next year as you plan your week.
Making plans is the first step to making memories. People often ask me, Is it really necessary to put personal stuff on my calendar? To set goals that have to do with friends and family life? My answer: Things may very well turn out fine without all that. Put it in writing, however, and you know the important stuff will happen. And that’s what matters.
Here’s a basic step-by-step outline you can use
Step 1: Look back
Start by taking a good look at your year. Make an overview of what went well, and what could have gone better. Use your calendar, photos, and social media to refresh your memory.
Of course 2022 threw unexpected stuff our way. How did you cope? What are you proud of? What would you do differently if you’d known what was coming? Is there anything this year brought that you’re especially grateful for?
Did you set goals? Make New Year’s resolutions? How’d that go?
Now look back on your year using whatever categories make sense for you. Here’s the list I’m using: Work, Partner and home life, Wider family, Friends, Health, Spiritual life, Skills, Side projects, Fun, Giving, Quitting, Money – Income, and Money – Savings. Take your time.
Then take a look at each quarter and jot down a couple of sentences about what you notice.
Step 2: Brainstorm
Now take some time to think about all those things you’d like to do, in the broadest sense. Do this for whichever categories you used in step 1. Make your aspirations as big and bold as you can at this stage! You’ll make a selection later.
Step 3: Set goals
Next, you take your brainstorm ideas and turn a number of them into concrete goals to work with in the coming 3 months. My only two criteria for your goals? You have to be super excited about them, and they should be framed in ways that make it 100% clear when you’ve met them.
Step 4: Sum up your year
Close by penning a few sentences about your 2022 as a whole. How would you sum up your year?
New insight and tips
Like everything else, my approach to a yearly review is a Work in Progress. Here are some things I’ve learned since I started making a YearPlan 10 years ago.
Work together. My best YearPlans came about when I made plans with someone to work on our stories together. We’d then agree: Okay, in an hour we’ll discuss our look back. That’s something you can easily do remotely, by the way. You don’t have to actually sit down together to get the benefits. Perfect for our times. Just convene at the agreed time for a video call to discuss, then break out to work on the next step.
Consider “Giving” in the broadest sense. Someone emailed me that my old category “Money – Giving” was too limited, and I couldn’t agree more. If you look at “Giving” in broader terms, all kinds of new possibilities open up.
I added a category a few years back called “Quitting”. It’s often difficult to fit new things into your life without first scrapping some old things. Use the “quitting” category to help. The chopping block technique (from newsletter #1) can be a lifesaver here.
Try new ways of working. I’ve used MindNode the past few years, which works brilliantly. Pen and paper can work well for the brainstorm session. But I love trying out new software; it’s a great way to come up with fresh ideas.
So good luck and have fun with your YearPlanDay. Can’t wait to hear how it goes!
Have a good week,
produced by the language girl