Last year I resisted my Annual Review for the first time in 10 years. This year, what can I say… I guess it’s the second wave of resistance.
Over the past month I’ve entered a season of wandering in the wilderness. I don’t want to sound overly mopey, so I’ll spare you the details. I know I’ll get through it at some point; it’s just hard to celebrate accomplishments or feel festive at the moment.
Still, there are several reasons why I’m going to proceed with the review:
First, the unexamined life is not worth living—at least according to a wise person like Socrates or Bill Murray. Only by looking at things the way they are, not the way we might wish them to be, can we truly set an intention and ensure that anything within our realm of control is aligned with that intention.
Second, joy and sorrow can co-exist. Looking back, I know I can I feel proud of some of the work I did this year. And it’s not just work: I also feel proud of a lot of personal growth as well. I do feel more self-aware than ever, for better or worse (or maybe for better and worse).
Last, in recent weeks I’ve been thinking about this quote a lot:
“You cannot protect yourself from sadness without protecting yourself from happiness.” -Jonathan Safran Foer
Let’s not sugarcoat it. I’ve long chosen highs and lows instead of a mediocre flatline. So for all these reasons, on with the review.
Here’s How It Works
If you’d like to learn about the approach I use for the review, here are a few starting points:
2. Download this free tool (more about this in a moment)
3. Before doing anything else, make two lists consisting of a) what went well and b) what didn’t go well this year
Revised Spreadsheet Template (Download for Free)
The main phase of the review is forward-looking, not retrospective. I spend most of my time thinking about goals, values, and decisions.
For the whole
eight nine ten years I’ve used the same simple spreadsheet to set goals in various life categories. It’s a very basic tool. It won’t win any design awards, but it will help you to think more clearly about your life, which is probably more important.
We’ve recently tweaked the formatting and added a few more data points, so be sure you have the current version:
Some have questioned whether a spreadsheet is sufficient to truly devise what matters to you and plan your life accordingly. This is a valid concern—we first need to ensure that our goals match up with our values and overall vision.
No amount of goal-setting will help if you’re pursuing the wrong goals. However, I do believe (strongly!) that being specific about our intentions and tying them to measurable milestones is good for us.
If you haven’t done it before, give it a try. And if the template structure doesn’t work for you, don’t hesitate to modify it however it serves you best.
In the next few posts I’ll share some of my reflections on 2017, as well as a look ahead at the next year. Stay tuned…