How I do my Annual Review


Every year I take some time and review the prior year as a first step towards planning the coming year.  Here is how I did my 2015 Annual Review. 

Words of the Year

At the end of the year I write three words that  describe the previous year.  I described 2015 as a year of:

  • Sorrow
  • Planning 
  • stressful

I lost my father in 2015 and that coupled with a tough year at work provided the sorrow and stressful theme.  I spent a lot of time planning for my website and my triathlon training, too much in my estimation, so that is the planning theme.

I compare those three words to the three I set while planning the year.  I had set:

  • Planning
  • Health
  • Execution 

Annual Summary

With these six words as a backdrop I write out an Annual Summary of the year.  From 50,000 feet how did the year feel?  How did it go?  I really consider this brainstorming as I just write what comes to mind.  It is important for me that I do no mid sentence editing or culling of my thoughts.  I just let my thoughts flow as I think about last year.   Typically these are memorable items, events, people or activities that took place.  

Journal Review

After the Annual Review I go through my journal for the year to help jog my thoughts on other things that took place.  In hindsight I think things seem better or not as bad as they seemed at the time.  That is why I review my journal to really capture the emotions and reactions I had at the time.  Much more powerful than the antiseptic hindsight review at the end of the year.

Goal Review

After I get my summary down I go into a deep review of the goals I set.  Each year I typically put together a visual timeline on when I am going to meet certain goals so I include that image in my annual review. 


I list out each goal I set for the year.  I include:

Goal - what was the specific goal.

The Why - I am a firm believer that if you don't have a big enough why you will not make the progress you want.  So this is the why I must achieve this goal.

System and Processes to Achieve - This describes the specifics of how I am going to achieve the goal.  This also includes what will I put in place almost daily to move my trajectory forward.

Tracking Progress and Process  - How am I going to track my progress including what am I going to track and specifically how — (google spreadsheet, tally sheet , etc.)


Under each goal I type one question to answer - What was my trajectory?  Did I improve and move towards the goal or away from it?  This in my mind is key as I view goal achievement as a process not an end state.  If I improved myself and moved forward then I consider that a success.  I do this for each goal.  I give myself an arbitrary rating between 1 - 10 on each goal. 

Quick Summary

The last thing I do is finish up with a paragraph or two of how I view last year.  I find this important to do last as it changes a bit after I have done the 50,000 foot review, and the specific goal review.  This year's summary highlighted that I thought I had too many goals, that I spent too much time planning and not enough doing.  I also had a lot of frustration from work and from the injuries I experienced.  

After I have this drafted I let it sit for at least 2 days and then go back.  I take a clean page or file and bullet  point out thoughts about what happened last year and compare the list to what I had documented?  Anything new, anything different?  If so I flesh them out and add them to the summary.  

After that I review the document one more time and I scan it in and if it is a file I convert it to PDF.


I use this Overall Summary as the beginning for the current year's goal and system brainstorming session.  Did I have too many goals?  Do I continue to have the same goals year after year and don't act on them?  This guides my goal setting process and helps me refine my process and set me up for success.  Improve the trajectory year after year.  Consider this the annual 2% improvement.