The Annual Review - A quick look back to help move forward

assessment goal setting mental fitness Jan 18, 2021
review goals for the year

Last week I got so excited about the Browns and Buckeyes that I shifted my blog schedule to make room for that discussion on Regular Season, Playoff, and Championship modes of living. If you missed it, check it out here.

But let's get back to the brass tax. It's still January of the New Year and I imagine folks are still grappling with their resolutions for the year. I wrote about the likelihood of derailment a couple blogs ago, and for those of you out there (myself included) that are still struggling a bit, maybe it's time to take that pause with purpose and to complete a more comprehensive assessment.

What is this comprehensive assessment you ask?

Well it's the annual review!

And though we would have preferred to do the annual review at the end of the year, life gets in the way, holidays sneak up on us, and the next thing you know the ball has dropped and we haven't spent any time reflecting on where we've been and where we want to go.

Today, that changes.

So break out your notebook, your pen, your wine, and let's do a little annual review.

Oh, and before we dive in, keep in mind that the purpose here is to review how things went in order to serve us in our awareness of how we can make things better.

A quick look back can help us move forward.


The Annual Review really is mostly about looking back on the year and reflecting on how it went overall and any lessons learned that you can carry with you into the next year. Though there are likely very complex methods of reviewing the year, in this section I want to share a very easy approach. The Well-Better-Learned Assessment.

What Did I Do Well?

The first step in the annual review is identifying the areas that went well. Be it in your personal or professional life. You can get in the weeds as much as you like but it is important to celebrate the wins and identify the thoughts/feelings/behaviors that served you well in the last year. You want to check your humility at the door. This really is an opportunity to pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Just be specific about what it is that was pat-on-the-back-worthy. Details are critical here.

What Could I Have Done Better?

The second step is to identify those areas in which you could have done better. For many of us, this will fly off our tongue, as we are often more aware of the areas in which we missed the mark compared to the areas in which we crushed it.

So, go ahead, and allow that self critic to run wild a bit with a little honest self-appraisal about where you could have done better.

Again, you want specific behaviors and detail. Generalizations won't get the job done. Try to be as clear as possible about where you didn't do as well as you would have liked. This sets the stage for growing and developing in those areas if you more clearly understand what they were.

What Did I Learn?

The third step is to identify any lessons learned from the year. Identifying lessons learned deepens the teachings of the year and gives you some additional data moving forward. By reflecting on what you learned, you can use these as a springboard into the next year. Lessons learned helps us avoid previously made mistakes, see obstacles ahead of time, or implement more effective strategies. Use your lessons like little sidekicks to help you navigate the upcoming year.

The Fertile Void.

Now that we have taken a trip down memory lane and completed the Well-Better-Learned Assessment, we want to use that as a foundation for growth moving forward.

However you are likely experiencing a brief moment of mental / psychological transition.

You've looked in the rear-view, but you might not exactly know where you want to go moving forward. In the world of Gestalt Psychology this is known as the Fertile Void. An area of limbo where we await for the next relevant figure to emerge.

It's fertile because it's steeped in a soil of endless possibilities. However, it's a void because there isn't anything that has became obvious quite yet.

Don't worry.

The exercise that you just went through will allow some potential goals or pursuits to sprout from that fertile soil.

Be patient.

Sit with your annual review reflections.

What needs to emerge will emerge.

It may become obvious quickly and it may take some time, but it will come.

And once it does, you will have at least one or more possibilities for which you can turn into goals to pursue.

Next Steps:

In terms of next steps I encourage you to do the following:

  1. Complete the Well-Better-Learned Assessment.
  2. Review your notes for any possible goals. If no goals emerge just sit in the fertile void and continually review and reflect on your notes until something does.
  3. If you need additional help, next week I will be writing a blog about goals that might help in identifying and selecting pertinent goals.
  4. Finally, once you have a goal or two in mind, we want to make them fail proof. That'll be another blog coming down the pipe, so stay tuned.
  5. If you can't wait and want to get on the fast track through this process, feel free to reach out and we can do some goal-setting performance coaching to help you move along the path of pursuit. I look FORWARD to hearing from you!

Final Thoughts:

This is a great starting point for you to reflect back on the year gone by. This simple, easy to complete, annual review will provide you enough data to support your decisions for growth pursuits moving forward.

It applies in business, it applies in sport, it applies in the arts, it applies in life.

Also, as you might have guessed the Well-Better-Learned Assessment isn't only for annual review. You can use it to review a day of work. After a practice. After a performance. After a meeting. The possibilities are endless.  Use it as a tool for on-going reflection and development. 

And of course, sometimes these types of exercises are hard to get used to. It can be difficult to just sit down on our own and take the time to work through an exercise like this. If you find you need additional support or coaching through this assessment, feel free to reach out. A little extra accountability can go a long way in your stress management and performance enhancement pursuits, so feel free to shoot me an email if you have any questions or want to get a little work in!


Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, metus at rhoncus dapibus, habitasse vitae cubilia odio sed.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.