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How to Do a Year in Review by Kitty Bucholtz

November 9, 2023 by in category It's Worth It by Kitty Bucholtz, Writing tagged as , , , ,

One thing we hear a lot of this time of year when we talk about annual planning is that we need to do a “year in review.” We’re told to make note of what worked this past year, what was more difficult than expected, and to decide what we’ll continue in the next year and what we’ll stop.

But what’s the best way to look at it?

If I sit here and think for a few seconds, I would say this past year has been tremendously difficult. (Just shy of “It sucked!”)

If I think about it for a minute, I remember than I got to travel three times this year – three times more than I have since the Covid pandemic began. That’s a win! But the rest of my life still sucked.

But if I get something to write with (pen and paper, computer file, phone note) and close my eyes and try to go through my whole year, looking at my calendar as well, I see something entirely different.

The root of my financial troubles was me not leaving any savings for slow months, but putting every dollar I earned against my credit card balance. Cash flow trouble. Something I can avoid in the future now that I understand it from first-hand experience. (It seemed like such a good idea to pay down my credit card as fast as possible…unless you get to a month where you don’t have enough for even the minimum payment. Oops.) While the short-term results were painful, the lesson learned for the future was invaluable.

My health was another big stressor this year. While I knew that I was learning how to heal from burnout the last few years, I hadn’t fully realized the impact of peri menopause in addition. I started out the year practically homicidal. But I was put on HRT (hormone replacement therapy) in mid-February and my symptoms quickly evened out. I wasn’t 100% back to myself, but at 80-95% (depending on the day), it was a huge relief!

Unfortunately, that 5-20% still bothered me with brain fog and fatigue, feeling like I couldn’t keep two thoughts in my head half the time. That doubled the amount of time it took me to do client work and my own work, which made me feel like I was getting further and further behind every month. Then after my half marathon, I caught a terrible respiratory infection that knocked me out for a couple weeks. A few weeks later, I caught Covid for the first time.

While between them it felt like I lost a good two months in trying to get healthy again, that time also made me think about how I’m living my life without much white space right now. That’s not what I want. I’ve had a half-finished puzzle on the table for a couple months because I keep telling myself I don’t have time to play right now. What’s that about? That’s something I want to actively plan to change next year.

These are only a few of things I came up with when I spent more than one minute thinking about the year. Turns out, there were a lot of good things in my business and personal life in 2023. In addition, of course, to a lot of lessons learned, and a lot of unfortunate things I couldn’t do much about. But once I could see these things written out, I could start seeing a much clearer picture of what the year truly was like.

That allowed me to start a list of what I wanted to change (quite a few things) in 2024, what I wanted to do more of, and a few things I needed to cut way back on. When I start my annual planning for the new year, I’m going to take this new, more complete, list and look at if from the standpoint of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT). I’ll also compare my bigger life goals against the year – am I living my life with purpose and loving everyone as much as I can?

So how about your year in review? Can you take longer than a few minutes and really think it all through, write it down and take a solid look at it? I think you’ll find some really helpful information to make next year better.

And I bet you see a bunch of things to remind you that this past year was even better than what you remember!

I hope you take the time. It’s worth it.

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