How to conduct a Year End review

trees reflecting on water at year end
Photo by Amanda Wild Flickr

January 1.  A new year.  A time to start fresh.  A time to set goals for the new year.

But, wait!! Don’t start thinking about those goals quite yet!  Instead, begin by reviewing the past! You might be asking “what in the world?!” but trust me on this…

Remember A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens?  In order to determine how Ebeneezer Scrooge should conduct his life, he first needed to to revisit his past (and present) before looking to the future.  But how should you look back?


To start your Year End review, I would first find a quiet space – mentally and physically, where you can dig deep.  I know … many of us are busy moms who have had the word “quiet” leave our vocabulary.  Many people advise taking a whole day (8 hours) to site and reflect, but I say finding a minimum of one hour blocks will work too.  In fact, if you are someone like me that keeps deep questions in the back of your mind while doing other things, shorter time blocks might work better than one long intensive thinking session.

The easiest way to start your Year End review is to go back through any notes, emails, calendar entries and write down any highlights from each month.  

Here are some ideas that might help:

  • Write down the amazing things that happened as well as the mistakes you made.  
  • List any new products or courses created.  
  • Did you start a new website or subscription service this year?  
  • Track your numbers – determine what your Google Analytics were for each month (you do have a website, right? If not, contact me for help!)  
  • How many newsletter subscribers did you have and how did they change over the course of the year? 

I don’t just do this step for my business!  I look at all aspects of my life and how successful I felt they were.  Such as: Was I spending enough time with my family or in Bible study?  Were there big events or trips in the past year?  Were there people or external forces that influenced how I spent my time, energy and money? 

Learn from your Year End review

Once you’ve captured what happened in the past months, that’s when you can begin to see what events were positive and negative – as well as start to think about what you learned about each.  

  • If you wrote down goals at the beginning of the year, locate them and see how your end results compared.  
  • Where did you spend significant time in your business?  
  • What fed your soul this year?  
  • What distractions and setbacks did you have?
  • Did you launch a course that was a flop – if so, why do you think that was or what could you have done differently?  
  • Did you have a phenomenal sale in one month?  Was it the result of a promotion you ran or new product released? 

Look for trends in your Year End review – habits or key decisions that contributed to your success and lessons you can learn from them.   How can you continue these in the new year and what, if anything, needs to change? 

If you had failures, mistakes, or problems in the past year was there anything within your control that could have changed the outcome? 

Examples from my Year End review

Let me give you a couple of examples from my own life and Year End review from 2019: 

This past year, I made the decision to split apart my business into different entities so I could more effectively market to my customers.  While this was only an inkling of an idea at the beginning of the year (in other words, it wasn’t in my goals) and it took more time than anticipated, I consider it a huge success.  It helped me to push forward with my tech editing and virtual assistant work more effectively than I ever imagined.  Information about the services I provide was no longer lost among everything else I did.

However, one failing I had this year was signing up for courses.  Some were small (less than $50) but a couple were several hundreds of dollars.  How many have I worked through to 100% completion?  Zero.  I know I have an issue with FOMO (fear of missing out) and spend way too much time thinking and analyzing before acting – which is why I keep signing up for courses.  Yes, there is always more I can learn, but my lesson from this is that I need to stop and finish the courses I’ve already purchased.  I may find (as I have in the past) that I know more than I think I do and my money could be better invested elsewhere.


By reviewing your success AND failures, it gives you an opportunity to celebrate your wins as well as to determine what could be done differently to prevent losses in the future.  

Then let go of everything that was less than successful.  I mean it!  Let. It. Go! (you don’t need to sing it though 🤣).  Failures don’t mean that YOU are a failure – it only means that you have room to grow and learn from your mistakes.  After all, don’t we all have room for improvement?!  You can’t change the past, but you can learn from it.  Some people go so far as to write these on a piece of paper which is burned to signify that those events and are gone and over.

This is also a time when you can look at how the year shaped up and determine if your life direction needs to change.  Is the life you led this past year the type of life you want?  What needs to change?  Some of this leads into building goals for the new year, but you can start to reflect on the path your life is following now. 


Lastly, be sure to spend some time experiencing gratitude, by writing down what you are thankful for right now.  Focusing on the positive aspects of your life can help to dispel any anxieties or disappointments over the past year’s events.  Are there people that have helped you along the way – supported and encouraged you? Sending them a thank you note will not only help you recognize your gratitude but it will be a boost in their lives and help to build community!

In Summary

Take your time to do this review.  It’s so easy to rush past this and start focusing on the new year goals. However, without properly reviewing what made up your positives and negatives, it’s hard to know what you should invest time on next year!  If you can’t do it all in one sitting, try and allocate a minimum of 30 minutes or so each day until you get it done.

Now, I’m a list person and I love lists, but your Year End review doesn’t have to be in that format!  If you do better by mind-mapping, drawing, making a collage or some other method of recording the highs and lows of the year, then by all means use those methods!  This is YOUR review and no one else  needs to see it.

Your turn

If you DO like lists, or would like a Year End Review Cheat sheet to download and fill out on your own, be sure to use the link above to request your download!

I would love to hear what happened in your year – the good and the bad. Did you learn any great lessons? Comment below or shoot me an email!

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