Annual Life Review

Celebrate your success, identify your limitations and learn what to do next

Woman and dog outdoors, winter

As you look back on your year, are you now where you intended to be?

We often set goals in January and have aspirations and expectations of what we will achieve in the year ahead. Maybe you wrote some New Year Resolutions or just had a sense of what the year would bring.

December can be a great time to reflect on your successes throughout the year and to acknowledge what else you’d hoped to achieve.

“Experience: that most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – CS Lewis



To help you with this, I’m sharing the following approach to your Annual Life Review.

Firstly it can be helpful to categorise your life into different sections: career, health, love, family, friends.

Then for each section, ask yourself the following questions:

What did I want to achieve?

List your goals and aspirations. Were you specific? It’s much easier to measure progress if your goals were clearly articulated, but it may be that you just had a sense of where your life would or should go in each category. Capture that too.

What does success look and feel like?

Consider what would have told you that you’d been successful in this area. Perhaps you’ve achieved certain aspects of your goals. Notice what that feels like. How are things different? Or how should they be different?

To what extent on a scale of 1-10 did I reach my goals?

So how did you do? There can be various reasons why we don’t end up with what we set out to achieve. Maybe the goal became obsolete due to changing circumstances or attitudes. Maybe something got in the way. Or maybe you’ve ticked every box and could perhaps stretch yourself a bit further next year.

“Focus on your potential instead of your limitations” – Alan Loy McGinnis

What can I celebrate?

All too often we race through life running from one project to the next, without pause to reflect and enjoy what’s going well. In fact we often tend to dwell more on negative experiences than we do on positive ones. Take time now to capture all your successes. Allow yourself the space to reflect on what’s actually good in your life.

What got in the way?

Maybe your goals weren’t realistic. We often over-estimate how much we can achieve in a day/week/month and under-estimate how much we can achieve over a longer time period, like 5 years. Perhaps there are patterns of thought, self-limiting beliefs, fears even, that continue to hijack your plans. See if you can identify them.

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” – John Powell

What have I learned from this?

What conclusions can you draw from the above questions? Maybe there are areas of procrastination that continue to hold you back. Maybe you’ve not figured out exactly why you want a certain thing which then causes you to give up as soon as the going gets tough. Maybe you’ve actually achieved more than you give yourself credit for and you should lighten up on yourself a bit.

What will I do differently moving forwards?

The new year is just around the corner and with it comes an opportunity to take a fresh look at how you set goals and what you want your life to be like in the coming year. Using a year-end review such as this approach can help you avoid falling into the same traps as before. If you need further help you can also check out my Goal-setting Template and use this to plan your year ahead.

For more support setting compelling, achievable goals, feel free to drop me a line to explore how coaching can help.

About the Author

Sarah founded Happiness Express Coaching in 2009. With over 3000 coaching hours and an ICF Master Certified Coach (MCC) credential, she specialises in personal branding, leadership, and wellbeing. Sarah also mentors coaches to achieve their ICF credentials.

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