2019 calendar

Annual Reviews

J. Everette Pierce

It’s that time again! The end of year is fast approaching and the holiday season is well underway with its frenetic pace, endless distractions, and joyful gatherings. For those of us who have made personal development a lifestyle and for those of you who are just beginning to dip your toes in, the end of the year means annual reviews. Personally, it is one of my favorite things about the holiday season. This is when I get to take a much needed respite from the hustle and bustle of the holidays and take a deep dive into reflecting on how my year went and what I’m looking forward to in the new year. I get to review my accomplishments, revisit the lessons I’ve learned, bring my awareness to what didn’t go so well, and really connect to my sense of gratitude for all of the ways that life is unfolding for me.

Annual reviews are necessary to our continued progress and success.Capturing all of this information in one place and seeing how far we have come and how much we’ve learned and accomplished can really put things into perspective and give us a much clearer sense of where we want to go in the coming year.  

I conduct my annual review in my bullet journal but you can use any method that works for you; a notebook, scrap paper, a spreadsheet, Google docs, Onenote, or Evernote.  The important thing is to capture the information that gives you the insight and clarity you need to create the life you love in the coming year.  

Where does this information come from? There are three primary ways that I gather information for my reviews: my bullet journal (which serves primarily as my planner), my journal, and through reflection.  If you’re new to personal development, haven’t kept a journal, or don’t use a planner, it’s still possible to conduct a review.  

To conduct an annual review I ask myself a series of questions in four sections.  Most of the answers to these questions come from my weekly, monthly, and quarterly reviews in my bullet journal. I also review my journal to get a sense of what I was thinking and feeling during certain times or about big events. I also spend time reflecting on how the information I am gathering feels right now and what arises for me as I reflect to gain insight into what I want to create in the coming year. 

Section 1: Overview 

This is where I get a sense of how the year went overall. 

  • How did the year go? And why? 

To answer this, I rate the year on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being awful and 10 being it doesn’t get better than this. Then I clearly define the reasons I’m giving the year that rating.  


  • This is where I list the highlights of the year.  What are the things that stand out? 
  • What are the outcomes for the goals I set this year? 
  • I review my goals and where I am on the journey to achieving them. How successful have I been?
  • What is my biggest accomplishment of the year? I write down the one thing I am most proud of. 
  • Biggest personal milestone?
  • What stands out as a defining moment? There is a clear before and after this moment. 
  • What is my most valuable lesson learned? 

Truthfully when I answer this last question I do pick a lesson that is most valuable but I usually list all of the lessons learned that I have captured in my weekly, monthly, and quarterly reviews.  I like to see just how much I’ve learned and grown all in one place.

List any changes to Codex.

My codex is where I record my core values, principles, beliefs, mission, purpose etc. As I conduct reviews throughout the year, I review my codex and update it to reflect the things I’ve learned and the ways I’ve grown.

Section 2: Habits

In this section I focus on my habits, the good and the bad. My habits are my best opportunity to change and grow into the person I need to become in order to create the life and success I am seeking. 

  • What habits can I build or break to support the achievement of my goals? 

This is where I get honest with myself about the ways I need to change in order to achieve my goals and live my best life.  Sometimes we have to recognize that the only thing in the way of our success is us. 

  • What environmental changes can I make to support habit formation and goal achievement? 

Again this is simply recognizing that our surroundings play a vital role in our success and failure.  Are your surroundings supporting success or contributing to failure? What changes need to be made?

Section 3: Processes and systems 

We all have processes and systems that we use to keep things running smoothly. Review those systems and process to see which ones are most helpful and which might need a bit of tweaking. Are there some that need to be let go of or replaced? As we review our systems and processes we are going to find that a few of them are not functioning as well as they could be. This is often the result of how we are using the process or system and, more accurately, how we aren’t using them. So, what isn’t working and why? What changes can you make to get them functioning more optimally? These are the three questions I use to evaluate my systems and processes during my review:

  • What processes and systems are most effective?
  • What processes and systems aren’t working? Why?
  • What revisions can I make to improve process and system functioning?

Section 4: Looking Ahead 

This is the part of the review process that I most enjoy. Not only do we get to explore our dreams, we get to plan and schedule the actions that will bring them to life! Decide right now what a 10 looks like for the coming year; how does it feel? What does the rhythm and flow of a day look like in a perfect year? What are you making room for and letting go of? How are you spending your time? What are you achieving? 

Once you”ve decided how a 10 is defined, all that remains is to set the goals that will make it happen and take the necessary actions. Small, consistent actions over time will lead to success. 

  • What will it take to make next year a 10? 
  • My top 3 priority goals will be:
  • My immediate next step for each goal is:

Once you’ve completed the review process you will have gained three critical perspectives: a clear understanding of just how far you have come in the preceding months, a clear picture of where you are right now, and clarity and insight about where you want to be at the end of the coming year. Take a moment to celebrate your progress, to be proud of how far you’ve come on your journey, and to be grateful for your capabilities, opportunities, and all of the amazing ways that life is happening for you.  

Some additional questions that may be useful in your review process:

  • Am I learning new things?
  • Am I questioning my beliefs and challenging myself to expand my views?
  • Is there balance in my life? 
  • Am I living intentionally? 
  • Am I living authentically?
  • Am I challenging myself to continually improve? In what ways?
  • Am I allowing myself to be happy where I am now? 
  • Am I overcoming the challenges in my life or avoiding them?
  • Am I consuming more than I am contributing to the world? How can I contribute more and consume less? 
  • Am I prioritizing the agreements I make with myself?

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