My Approach to Annual Review and Reflection, 2021-2022

As the year ends, and the new one begins, many people reflect upon and review their past year, and think about how they wish to act moving forward. Some call it “making resolutions,” some “setting intentions.” People do it all different ways.

Here is the way I have been ending each year since 2015. It is an approach that has served me well. I typically go over my review with my spiritual adviser and sometimes I share it with my spouse.

Aspirations (Virtues and Defects)

This, for me, is the most important. I reflect on my behavior over the past year, think about where I fell short and what patterns suggest themselves. Which defects of character were most bedeviling? I think about what the corresponding virtues might be. These become the guideposts for how I want to behave overall in the coming year. This list rarely changes from year to year. For the past few years, my list has been:

Humility (vs Pride)
Generosity (vs Selfishness)
Acceptance (vs Self-Pity)
Diligence (vs Sloth)
Tolerance (vs Judgment)

It was two years ago that I added the last item in the list. Before that, the list had been stable for many years.

Areas of Focus (Plans, Results, Plans)

I next look across the key focus areas of my life: Faith, Family, Work, Health, etc. For each, I had set plans in the previous year. I write down my results as I reflect on the past year. Did I meet my goals? Considering this, I then set out plans for the upcoming year.

Here is an example:

  • Body (health & fitness)
    • Plans 2021: Follow doctor’s orders, reduce cholesterol. Continue running — 5 mile routine.
    • Results 2021: Stasis. Periodic yoga, periodic lifting. Struggled to lose weight. Stayed on track with medical appts.
    • Plans 2022:
      • Improve fitness routine, focusing on consistency
      • Resume yoga
      • Achieve and maintain body weight below 200 lbs (185-190 ideal)

This gives me a roadmap to follow, as I check in periodically throughout the year. The plans are not static, I revisit them and adjust where appropriate.

Then, at the end of the next year, the last bullet (Plans 2022) moves to the top, and I will add “Results 2022” and “Plans 2023.

Here is my full list of focus areas:

Faith
Family
Work
Community/Civic
Body (Health & Fitness)
Mind (Learning & Creativity)
Finances
Home (Dwelling)

What are your focus areas? How do you approach year-end reviews?

Published by

Brad Rourke

Executive editor of issue guides and program officer at the Kettering Foundation.

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