Before I began doing an annual review process every year, I always felt like I was working towards trivial goals. I set goals in January because everyone else did, and I never felt like the action I was taking was meaningful or strategic. The goals that I was setting were never really improving or transforming anything in my life. That all changed when I developed my annual review system that I’ve been using for four years now. It took some trial and error and experimenting with different things, but I think I’ve finally hit my sweet spot and I’m excited to share it with you. Let’s dive in!
First, my annual review process usually takes place over the course of a month, for a total of about 4 hours. I usually begin in early December so that I don’t feel rushed. Then I feel like I have a lot of time to be thoughtful about my goals for the following year, beginning in January. The first step I take in my annual review process is to complete a time log. The idea of this is very simple – I basically record what I am doing every 30 minutes for 5-7 days on a Google Sheets document.
I do this as my first step of the annual review process for a few reasons. First, it allows me to see where my time is going. Second, it allows me to reflect on where my time is going and begin to think about whether I want to continue to invest my time in those areas moving forward. I love to label these documents with the date because it is so interesting to look back on later.
If I’m feeling especially motivated, sometimes I will do the Ideal Day exercise as part of this process too, to think about how I want to be spending my time. This definitely doesn’t happen every year though. I always do this process in my MAP Book notebook system so that I can refer back to it later.
After I complete my time log and reflection, my next step is to do a calendar review. Very similarly to the time log, this exercise allows me to think about my year as a whole and determine what was worth my time and what wasn’t. This idea was inspired by John Maxwell, who does a similar exercise every year.
I realized that a lot of our family time on weekends was spent at kid’s birthday parties in 2021 that we didn’t know very well and lasting friendships didn’t come out of. For 2022, we were more purposeful about the invitations we accepted, realizing that saying yes to random kids meant saying no to family adventures. We struck a much better balance this year with going to kids’ birthday parties this year. I’m not sure we would have identified that particular area as something we wanted to change if I hadn’t done the calendar review.
To organize the calendar review, I usually just dedicate a few pages in the back of my quarter four MAP Book to my annual review process. On one page, I wrote “What was worth my time?” and on the next page, “What wasn’t worth my time?” and listed everything out. It’s nice to be able to refer back to it, especially the following year when it’s annual review time again! From there, I usually write a “More” and “Less” list – things we want to do more of, things we want to do less of in the coming year.
Rachel Hollis has also used this process in the past and has a podcast episode about it if you want to check that out here.
As a small business owner, my small business(es) take up a good chunk of my bandwidth, so it makes sense to include them in my annual review. If you are an employee in any capacity, this exercise could be easily tweaked to accommodate your circumstances.
Each year, I take time to reflect on business accomplishments that I’ve achieved and the income that I’ve generated. I also begin to think about how I want to grow professionally in the coming year. Of course, there is also a major financial component to this part of the reflection. I do spend a lot of time preparing my taxes and making financial plans for the year ahead, but generally that’s not a part of this annual review process.
As promised in this week’s YouTube episode, I am going to be sharing with you the exact reflection questions that I review every year as part of my annual review. Again, I record these in my MAP Book so that I can access the answers.
As promised, I wanted to do a mini-reflection to model for you what your annual review process might look like.
So, what did I accomplish this year? This year, I began to create consistent content for my coaching business, began writing daily and launched my coaching website. I also had the best year yet with my photography business and I started going back to counseling. These all feel like big accomplishments.
What went well this year? Things that well included budgeting in my business (paying myself consistently), being present as a parent and we hit some major financial milestones this year.
What do I want to challenge myself with in 2023? I really want to continue to write in 2023 and bring on more coaching clients. I want to challenge myself to spend more 1:1 time with my girls, go away on a personal solo retreat somewhere warm and have finished the draft of my book by the middle of the next year. Eeek, did I just say that aloud?! If we’re being real here, my biggest dream would be that I’m holding a copy of my published book by the end of 2023.
What habits did I establish this year? This year, I established good writing habits, wake up habits and consistent family routines. I was super proud of myself for working out every day of vacation this year too!
What habits do I want to give up in the new year? What habits do I want to start in the new year? I would like to get back on track with meal planning and prep, since that has gotten derailed this year. I also learned a lot about how much my technology use affects my mindset. Because of that, I want to spend more time away from screens. I just got started with using a Peloton as part of my workout routine. I’m loving it so far and I want to continue to use it into the new year.
What do I want more of in 2023? In 2023, I want more spontaneous, unplugged adventures, date nights with my husband and to hit more of our financial goals!
So this obviously isn’t my entire annual review, but it gives you a good idea of what it could look like. The last two questions I try to get super detailed with and this part of the process usually reminds me of the exercises that we discussed in episode 19 with creating your dream life vision. So you can definitely check that episode out for more details if you’re curious!
Take a moment to decide if an annual review feels right for you this year. If so, decide which steps are of interest to you and pick 2-3 to implement this year. Set aside time on your calendar where you can spend some uninterrupted time reflecting on these questions about the previous year. Remember, this is just the foundation for setting goals for 2023.
If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe on Spotify or YouTube so you don’t miss next week’s episode, which is all about how to create a ten year family vision – don’t knock it until you’ve heard it! I used to roll my eyes when I heard “family vision” too. But my husband and I actually sat down and did one of these this year and it caused us to make huge changes to our budget. Be sure to check it out!
If you want to connect between episodes, be sure to give me a follow over on Instagram – @sharonlegercoaching. I would love to support you on your personal growth journey!
If so, be sure to share it with a friend – this helps busy moms like you to find me!
And finally, you can also check out these related episodes that I think you’ll be obsessed with: