Every year brings new highs, lows and adventures.
Similar to how I’m passionate about daily journaling, I believe in the importance of documenting the biggest events of the year: what went well, what didn’t go so well, what I learned and what I am looking forward to in the new year.
I’ve been writing and sharing year-in-review blogs consistently since 2020, but I wrote my very first one in 2014. This is all to say that I have some experience in this field.
Today, I am sharing my year-in-review template with you. I hope that you will use this template to reflect on your past experiences from the year and take the lessons you’ve learned to aspire to greatness and make the next year better than ever.
You can get started by downloading the template below, then read on for more detailed instructions.
- Writing a year-in-review is a hugely beneficial practice that highlights what you’re grateful for, what you’ve accomplished and what you will achieve in the new year.
- A year-in-review also helps you develop future self-awareness and a sense of accomplishment & completion of the prior year.
Step 1: What Went Well?
To start with a theme of gratitude and thankfulness, I like to begin with what went well. In this section, I take the time to highlight events, experiences and achievements that have occurred in the past year.
Here are a few examples of what to include in this section:
- Family vacations
- Reaching a goal
- Meeting new people
- Hitting milestones
Step 2: What Didn’t Go Well?
It’s hard to grow in life if you can’t be honest with yourself. I do my best to take the rose-colored glasses off and add a section about what didn’t go well. Reflecting on these difficulties reminds me that life is unpredictable and there’s always room to learn and improve.
Examples of what didn’t go well might include:
- Goals you didn’t quite reach
- Difficulties with relationships
- Things you struggled with
For example, my 2021 year-in-review included my own struggles with being disciplined in my bedtime habits and my inability to curb my sweet tooth. And on a more serious note, I also shared my lack of patience as a parent with my kids.
I believe it’s important to share the lows between the highs of life since you often learn more about yourself when facing challenges vs. experiencing success.
Step 3: What Did I Learn?
This is my favorite section to write. Because life teaches me new things each day, I find it helpful to document those learnings so that I have a reduced chance of forgetting them in the future
It’s been said that when you teach, you learn twice. Think of this section as a way to teach yourself!
Some items you may write down include:
- What you learned at work
- Lessons learned from others
- What a specific life experience taught you
- Adjustments you made that changed your life for the better
- Wisdom that you discovered
For example, in my 2020 year-in-review, I shared my experiences with daily Bible reading and how it transformed my life drastically. I also learned that intentional reflection helps me make better choices, improves my personal discipline and refines my leadership skills.
Step 4: What’s In Store for Next Year?
While reflection and learning are a priority of mine, I also believe in the power of visualization and looking forward to what is next. In this section of the year-in-review, I share details on what I’m looking forward to in the following year and what I’d like to accomplish.
Here are a few examples of what to include:
- Events you’re looking forward to
- Accomplishments you’re close to completing
- Ideas you’d like to explore
In my 2022 year-in-review, I shared specific goals for 2023. These goals included breaking my addiction to sweets, simplifying my life, memorizing Scripture and identifying my family core values.
Curious to see how I did? Check out my 2023 year-in-review!
Step 5: Highlights From the Year
If you’ve read any of my other personal blogs, you may have noticed that I am an avid sharer of things that I am a fan of — and I invite you to do the same. Whether it’s a simple gadget that made your life easier or a new favorite band, your friends, family and followers are probably interested, too!
Try sharing some of the following:
- A new favorite tech gadget
- A go-to recipe
- Book recommendations
- A podcast that you’re always listening to
- Your newest hobby
For example, in 2020, I shared a comprehensive list of the books I read that year with a brief synopsis. I encourage you to not only share your recommendations but also share why you love them. This reminds you why enjoyed them so much and also endears you to whoever reads your review.
Step 6: Personalize with Photos
If you ask me, no year-in-review is complete without your favorite pictures. Take the time to scroll through your photo albums and upload the ones that remind you of the happiest memories from the year.
Personally, I like to share pictures of family vacations, my kids and company events.
While you can’t limit happy memories, I tend to stick to 20 pictures or less. That way, I’m only highlighting the best of the best. And feel free to add a caption for context!
Why Create a Year-in-Review?
A year-in-review is a valuable exercise that reminds you of everything you’ve witnessed, achieved and excelled in throughout the year. It also allows you to reflect on the hardships of the recent year, the lessons you’ve learned and who you’ve become because of them.
And if you’re a leader or an aspiring leader, I especially challenge you to write a year-in-review to discover more about yourself and further develop the leader you are becoming.
Benefits of a Year-in-Review
Ultimately, you decide if you’re going to share your year-in-review with others, but I must emphasize that writing one has tremendous benefits (even if it’s only for your eyes).
- Improved self-awareness: As you reflect on your year, you can see yourself grow into the person you are now. You’ve probably made mistakes, and you may have even failed in a few areas. But by practicing this routine, you will learn valuable lessons that your future self will benefit from.
- Assessing your goals: How did you do on your goals this year? Did you accomplish them? Did you fall short on one or two? What can you do better next year to fulfill them? Taking time to assess your progress is essential to staying on track and actually completing them.
- A sense of accomplishment: At the end of the year, are you proud of yourself? I think you should be. Looking back at the year, you’ve probably accomplished more than you realize. Take a moment to celebrate your wins with gratitude and thankfulness.
- Setting yourself up for success next year: Reflection informs strategic planning for the upcoming year. As you write your year-in-review, you’ll identify areas of improvement and refine your game plan to develop a better version of yourself.
As I write my year-in-review, I am overwhelmed by many feelings. I feel accomplished. I feel frustrated. But most importantly, I feel grateful.
I am grateful for the many accomplishments and successes I experienced.. I am thankful for the lessons I learned. Most of all, I am grateful for another year spent with the people I love.
Whatever your year looked like, I hope you feel the same way when writing your year-in-review.
And don’t forget to download my free template to help you get started!Download My Free Year-in-Review Template
Wishing you the best for years to come,