Whether you want to build on existing momentum or make a radical change, the best way to plan your year is to begin with a period of review.
A year-end review can yield a lot of useful information. But there’s a specific piece of information that you want to illuminate. And if you fail to retrieve it , you’re missing the point.
One of the touted practices of successful people is that they engage in a regular practice of reflection and review.
Ideally, reflection and review is baked into your schedule on an ongoing basis: daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly.
The year-end review is a chance to put those all together, to step back in order to see the bigger patterns and themes that emerged.
This year, the planets are aligned to support our review in the first few weeks of January, with Mars retrograde in Gemini and Mercury retrograde in Capricorn. So if you haven’t gotten to it yet, you’re not too late.
An Overview of My Year-End Review
My year-end review process can be involved.
Read more about it here and here
I go through several stages of reflection to consider my life through various lenses:
- Magic Moments
- Lessons Learned
I spend time on each, writing my notes in a physical journal. After each section, I’ll review my notes and notice the patterns.
What did the magic moments have in common?
What wins or successes did I recall most easily?
Was there a common thread in my disappointments?
These themes and patterns provide useful information to guide our trajectory. They can show us what we find fulfilling and meaningful.
There’s a final section of my review that I have found most people leave out.
It’s unfortunate because this is where the gold is.
The final part of any review is to assess your identity shifts:
Who have you become?
Why Identity is So Important
Identity is crucial because it shapes our actions.
We act in accordance with how we see ourselves.
For example: consider how your decisions might be different if you see yourself as an athlete versus someone who just likes to exercise.
3 Ways to Think About Identity
Here are three ways to think about identity when answering the question “who have you become?”
(1) A Role
The most common way to consider identity is through a role you play, or a persona you adopt in your life.
Sometimes, “who you have become” is quite literal and shaped by life events or job descriptions
- A parent
- An aunt or uncle
- A grandparent
- A homeowner
- A vice president
- A CEO
- An investor
Other times, it’s something you decided to adopt for yourself:
- An athlete
- An entrepreneur
- A founder
- An innovator
- A writer
(2) A Way of Being
Other identities can be expressed as a way of being. They aren’t about actions, but about how you show up.
For this category, I like to complete this sentence:
I’ve become a person who…
Here are some examples from my personal reviews:
- I’ve become a person who stays calm in the midst of chaos.
- I’ve become a person who can hold space for opposing ideologies.
- I’ve become a person who embraces the mystery.
(3) A Consistent Behavior
When we do something for long enough, it becomes how we see ourselves. We are no longer trying to do that thing, we simply do it – consciously, but without question.
It may overlap with a role, but doesn’t have to.
I like to start with the same prompt:
I’ve become a person who …
For example, in 2022 I became a person who wakes up at 4:30 am.
This doesn’t necessarily make me a “morning person” — a descriptive label. It’s simply a behavior I choose most weekdays.
It’s a part of how I love my life now. I love the early morning hours, going to the gym in the dark, and starting my day in the hours when most people are still deep in REM sleep.
Who Have You Become?
As you complete any period of review, make sure to ask yourself:
Who have I become?
Notice how that translates into your behaviors.