Reviewing 2012

How was your year? I love the sense of interval, of a time between, that happens during the week between Christmas and New Year’s. For me, it’s always been a time of finishing off and preparing for the New Year.

A simple review

I learned to do this as an end of meeting activity when facilitating community groups, and find it works well for end of year prep for new year plans. We used to use flip charts and head one, “What Worked”, another “What Didn’t Work”, and a third, “What to Change”.

Head a sheet “what worked”, head another “what didn’t” and a third , “changes”. For the first two headings, let the ideas bubble up and jot them all down. Evaluate what you’ve got and then flesh out the bits that are most meaningful.

Take a look at the past year

If you had goals for this year, take a look at them as you reflect on what worked and what didn’t. If you didn’t have formal goals or a plan, that’s okay. Even if you didn’t have something written down you may notice areas where you feel good about what happened and areas where you aren’t as pleased.

As you work through this review see if you can approach it as a fact finding mission. Finding out what worked, and what helped it work, and finding out what didn’t and what stood in the way are both valuable. Let go of any blame toward yourself or others.

Other questions to explore:

  • When something worked, how did you feel?
  • When something didn’t work how did you feel?
  • Are there areas of your life that generate good feelings that didn’t show up on your “what worked” list? Add them to your list.
  • Are there areas of unhappiness that didn’t show up on your “didn’t work” list? Add them to your list.

Take a break

Go for a walk, talk with a friend, have a cup of tea. Shake it out.

If a friend or partner is near by, either with you, or by phone, consider giving them a call and asking if they have a moment to listen to your lists. In fact, it’s lovely to do this process with a friend, each of you working on your pieces and then coming together to talk about each piece before going on to the next.

 When you come back

Review your lists and write down things you want to change.

When you look at your “what worked” list, see if there are ways you can bring more of the elements that helped create successful outcomes to other areas of your life. Potential changes could come from adapting successful strategies in one area to other areas.

When you look at your “didn’t work” list, see if you can identify the things that were obstacles to success, or that took energy or spirit away. Once you have identified obstacles, or elements that create resistance, look at what you could change or what you could do to eliminate or minimize the obstacle or the resistance.

These change points will be valuable information for next year’s planning/goal setting.

Goals focus on results; planning focuses on the steps you need to take to achieve the results. In the next post I’ll focus on goals. The following post will look at planning.

Remember to celebrate items on your “what worked” list as you ring in the New Year!

Join the discussion: What helped you last year?


  1. […] an earlier post I wrote about a simple year-end review process that uses just three […]

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