Once you’ve set the tone, where do you begin?
Last weekend I took a workshop with Tiago Forte and Taylor Pearson on designing annual reviews. As part of the workshop, I shared in our group Slack channel the high-level components of the reflection ritual for my annual review process. Others found it helpful, and Tiago asked if I had published this anywhere.
What a brilliant idea…
I’ll cover my reflection ritual in two parts. Today, I’ll share the big pieces of my review. Tomorrow, I’ll share what I’ve added this year based on insights and inspiration I gained from last weekend’s workshop with Tiago and Taylor.
A Few Notes About Process
- Nobody reinvents the wheel. My process is a constant evolution, informed by some of my teachers and mentors and customized by me for my needs. Notable influences in this part of my process are Tony Robbins and Christine Arylo.
- I like to listen to music when I do this. I have a different playlist for each section, to help me set the mood for that piece of the ritual.
- I start each section working from memory first, primed by my brief review of my calendar, photos, and journals. After completing each section from what I can remember, I might go back through my Daily Recaps or journals to see if I missed anything big. I consider this a separate exercise from my daily and quarterly reviews, and find it interesting to compare what I remember at the end of the year to what felt so important during the year.
And some tips…
- Don’t force yourself to do this all in one sitting. Sometimes it works out for me to do it that way, and other times I break it up into chunks and spread it out over a week.
- Recognize that you won’t be perfect. You wont remember everything. Allow that to be ok.
- There is overlap. It’s not a strictly linear process.
- To borrow an analogy from Tiago and Taylor, consider this like a buffet. Take the pieces that resonate with you, and incorporate them into your own review process.
My Year-End Reflection Ritual
Ok. You’ve created space. You’re primed. Now what? What do you actually reflect on during the reflection ritual?
Here are the big pieces of my reflection ritual.
Magic Moments and Surprises
We do not remember days… we remember moments. — Cesare Pavese
Magic Moments is a term I took from Tony Robbins. These are the moments that stood out as special or noteworthy from the year. Moments that made me laugh or cry. Connections with friends. Things that surprised me or interesting discoveries.
In past years, this list has included everything from moments with my nieces and nephews to discovering Balega socks, which are amazing socks that raised my standard for socks.
Wins and Successes
What were your biggest wins or successes of the year? We rarely allow ourselves to celebrate our wins. High achievers and visionaries especially fall into the trap of discounting our wins, because we always see what remains to be done. Or, we get hung up on the metrics.
In this part of the process, I focus on unabashed celebration of what I accomplished.
My big rule for this section is to place a full stop after the win.
No adding “…but I didn’t do X” at the end.
This is hard for some of us. If that’s you, be patient: those disappointments get their own section!!
No matter how awful you think your year was, when you start looking for the small wins and successes you will find them. Most people complete this part of the process with a vastly different outlook on their year.
A few things to keep in mind here:
- No win is too small. The big wins are in the little wins.
- What did you stop doing? Whether it’s breaking a bad habit or cutting out activity that wasn’t serving you, that “undoing” is also a win.
- Some wins cannot be measured in numbers. This isn’t only about whether you hit your target numbers. It’s about how you showed up throughout the year.
Disappointments and Losses
Disappointments tend to speak for themselves. These are the places where I fell short or didn’t get as far as I wanted.
If you’re anything like me, you won’t need much help to come up with the list in this category. If you’re struggling, just look at your wins; they tend to have a corresponding disappointment.
After I put them all down on paper, I look for the bigger patterns behind my disappointments. Who do I blame? What’s the story I have been telling myself? What’s the truth?
Was there something that got in my way consistently? Is there a part of my workflow that is broken or interrupting my progress toward other outcomes? How can I set myself up to avoid that type of disappointment in the future?
I also go through a ritual to process the disappointments so that I don’t bring them with me into the new year.
This is the hardest part of the process, and the reason that most people don’t like to do an annual review. It’s hard to face our disappointments. This is also the place where I find the most wisdom. It may be painful, but it’s worth it.
Gratitude and Grace
This is my “palette cleanser” after I process through my disappointments.
I make a list of things from the year that I am most grateful for. I also reflect on and write down moments where grace showed up. Moments of grace include divine synchronicities. Those times when the right person showed up with the right message at the right time. The deal that closed exactly when I needed it. The moments of serendipity and “coincidence” that shifted something for me.
Our lives are full of these moments. The more I stop to acknowledge them, the more I find them showing up for me.
What did you learn from your experiences the past year?
What did you learn? Not just in terms of information and knowledge, but what is the deeper wisdom you gained from the year?
Tip: keep a spare piece of paper or a fresh note accessible as you go through the process. You’ll find that wisdom speaks throughout the ritual.
This is the most powerful piece in a powerful process.
All the wins and disappointments and magic moments are really vehicles for shifts in our identity — who we perceive ourselves to be. Identity is crucial, because it is the cornerstone of our behavior and mindset. Tony Robbins teaches that we will find ways to act in congruence with who we perceive ourselves to be.
As a result of what transpired over the past year, who did I become?
How has my identity and sense of self shifted over the past year?
For example, by engaging in stand-up comedy last year, I became someone who finds the humor in every situation, even when it feels frustrating or annoying. I also blogged daily in 2018, despite total upheaval in my life. I became someone who finds a way, no matter what.
What I Choose to Take and Leave Behind
Finally, I choose consciously what I want to take with me and what I choose to leave in the past.
What feels important to take with me into the next year?
What ways of being and what habits/patterns do I want to leave behind? What no longer fits with my new identity?
What Resonates With YOU?
Is this helpful to you? Which part of this process resonates most with you? What will you incorporate into your review process? Please share in the comments.