2015 Annual Review Is Here! This Updated Free Tool Will Help You Plan Your Entire Next Year


Over the past eight nine years, nothing has helped me to accomplish big goals and stay on track more than a single exercise I complete each December: the Annual Review.

Tomorrow I’ll publish a long post with my successes, failures (which are always more interesting), and lessons learned from 2015. I often go into a lot of detail, both personal and professional, and I promise to share much of it with you through the blog.

But Wait, You Too!

My favorite part about the review is that it brings a degree of order to my multi-faceted life and career, which consists of many different projects and roles. My second favorite part is seeing what everyone else comes up with.

Over the years, many of our readers have conducted their own Annual Reviews, frequently sharing their lessons with others on their blogs or in the comments or just with friends and families. A whole cottage industry of other review outlines, resources, and manifestos has sprung up, which is great to see.

At the end of this process (about 10-14 days from now) I’ll share many reader contributions from this year. If you’d like to be included, link to this post and use hashtag #AnnualReview in your own post. But far more important than social sharing is that you actually do the exercise, whether using my approach or your own way.

Here’s my approach:

1. Read the original post

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

4. You can skip ahead to the goal-setting part of the review if you want (but we’ll also be going through things one day at a time on the blog—so you don’t have to do too much at once)

Revised Spreadsheet Template (Download for Free)

For the whole eight 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:

—>Download the Updated Annual Review Template

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. If the template structure doesn’t work for you, don’t hesitate to modify it however it serves you best.


Action: We’ll begin looking back at 2015 starting tomorrow morning. As was the case last year, I expect the first “looking back” segment to be fairly long and personal. See you then!


Image: Joel

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