This month we grabbed the last of the apples on the trees. Because they had been out in the cold and escaped prime picking, they were not the prettiest. In fact, they were ugly. But once we got them inside to warm up, and cut away the bad parts, we squeezed out some good juice.
2021 was an ugly year for a lot of people. It started with a ton of hope, and became a rollercoaster of change, uncertainty, and frustration. But, there’s still plenty of learning and goodness we can squeeze from this year.
I’d like to say that I kept my accomplishment log up to date, that I wrote down each highlight, and made a note of every lesson learned. I did not.
Instead, at the end of each year, I grab my current notebook and do these 3 things:
1) Calendar Review
I review my work calendar, accomplishment log, and write down each moment that stands out as a major moment of goodness, achievement, or success on one page, and moments of pain, learning, annoyance or misery on another.
I repeat this review with my personal calendar and a quick flip through the photo reel too.
2) Pick your favorites
I go through my positive list and star my top items (no more than 10). On my negative list, I look for items I can eliminate or do less of the following year.
For instance, in 2019 I did not like going to kid birthday parties multiple weekends a month – so I told my kids to make a list of their friends who they care about so much they’d be willing to spend their own money on a present. That became our 2020 kid party list. And I bought the presents 😊
3) Fuel your goals
For the star items on the positive list, I look for patterns or types of wins I can repeat. This helps me with goals for the next year. For example, I loved our full-week spring break trip as a family last year with plenty of time for swimming and relaxing in the warm weather, so next year I am looking to book something warm, at least 6 days, and with a pool. On the work side, I loved getting to present my ideas at conferences, and want to do more of that in 2022.
Bonus action for the high achievers:
I’m a big audio book fan and use my solo time in the car and on walks as learning time. Apparently, this practice isn’t new. I read Born to Win by Zig Ziglar last year, and he calls listening to non-fiction books on tape during the commute “Automotive University”. I love that analogy! It’s such an upgrade from news radio.
At the end of each year, I go back through my Audible, my Kindle, and my library account, and write down each book I read and any key takeaways, even if it’s fiction and I enjoyed the escape. If I can’t remember any takeaways, I just search for a summary online to jog my memory.
I wasn’t sure of the value of this practice when I first started, but after 5 years of recording my books, I find myself flipping to these annual book summaries multiple times a year to find where an idea came from, for recommendations, and to avoid repeats.
Just try it!
If you’ve never put pen to paper for a personal year end review, it can feel like a lot, but I promise you that it’s an investment of a few hours that pays dividends in your growth (and happiness!). You can take it one step at a time:
- Set a timer for 45 minutes and do action #1. If you didn’t finish, you’re in the weeds. Go back for another 20 minutes to finish the year, and just look for the highlights!
- Repeat timer for actions 2 & 3.
It’s an easy way to benefit from all your 2021 experiences, and set up 2022 to be better than ever.