It is that time of year again. The time of the year when you take a moment to take stock, reflect on the year past, and look forward to what's to come. Right?
Shockingly, very few people take the time to do this although it is shown time and time again that people who set goals tend to have higher motivation, self-esteem, self-confidence, and autonomy. Isn't that crazy?
Why should you set goals?
Setting goals is powerful for two reasons. One, the process itself creates more awareness because you have to answer some important questions about your life. Secondly, it gives you focus. If you know what you want, who you want to be, and what life you want to create, you'll go into the world with a clear focus, resolve and drive.
And if you do this at the end of the year, you'll be ready to rock come January.
But how to go about that? In this article, I will walk you through the step-by-step process that I follow myself and that I use to help my clients at the end of each year. I call it a Year End Routine.
The year Year End Routine
As a High-Performance Life Coach, I put everything to the test myself. I read study, and assimilate loads of information. Next, I put everything I learn to the test until I find ways for my clients to integrate this easily and effectively into their own lives. That is just one of the ways I add value to my clients’ lives because people often struggle with applying what they know to their lives. I help them do that by creating frameworks and routines, and that's exactly what I want to share with you in this article.
I have taken different routines and philosophies from the realm of goal setting, personal effectiveness, and high-performance habits and combined them into one easy-to-implement routine.I am going to show you step-by-step how to create and design your best year ahead of time. Are you ready for this? Let's go.
Step 1. Reflect on the year.
The first thing you need to do is look back at the past year. This might seem obvious, but it can be quite a daunting task. Try asking yourself the question "How was my year?" and you'll know what I mean. It is a great question to start with, but you might struggle because it is very broad. So this is what I recommend:
1) Review your year in pictures
Nowadays, we tend to document our whole lives with our phones. Trigger your memory by simply reviewing your pictures. Not only will this trigger your memory, but it also allows you to relive those forgotten moments you don’t even remember. You'll see that you have done much more than you remember. The Gallery or Film Roll on your phone might not be super neatly organized, but it might still help. Of course, you can also use Instagram or Facebook if you use these mediums to share your moments.
Here is a little tip for the coming year. Now that you know that you will review your year using the pictures you take, the coming year you might be more incentivized to organize your pictures. Make it a habit to consciously take pictures of precious moments, go through your pictures on a weekly or monthly basis and organize them into folders or by using tags. At the end of the year, you'll have your year in pictures. And there is one more added bonus. If you make the decision to consciously document your life by taking photos, you will go through everyday life with more mindfulness and you will experience life more fully. Why? Because you are consciously and subconsciously looking for those everyday gems. Cool, right? (Shout out to Robin Sharma for this tip.)
2) Review your year in words
Now that you have refreshed your memory, it is time to properly review your year. As I mentioned before, it is hard to answer a broad question like "How was your year?", but there is still value in asking it. Use this first question as your "free writing" exercise. Write it down, just start writing and see what comes up. Keep writing and don't mind your grammar or spelling. It is a good way to bring everything that you might have forgotten or have moved into your subconscious back to the forefront of your mind again. You'll be amazed at what will start to come back to you.
Next, give your year a grade between 1 and 10. Why? Because you tend not to rationalize when you give a grade, it just feels like a 6 or a 9. Now, let’s see why you feel it was a 6 or a 9.
Think to yourself why you gave your year this grade and write it down.
By asking yourself clarifying questions, you’re digging deeper and will come up with more profound insights. This is very important and one of the things most people fail on. We don't really follow through with our questions and therefore come up with superficial answers. A way to stimulate yourself to go deeper is by using journal prompts. I’ve listed a few, but by all means, search for any other prompts that appeal to you.
Possible prompts to use:
What was the highlight of the year and why?
What have I learned?
What were my most important wins?
What am I most grateful for?
What am I most proud of?
Don't forget to also look at what didn't quite work out. This is not an exercise to make you feel good, this is to be done with radical honesty as well as sympathy and compassion for yourself. The point is to appreciate, learn, and grow. So, other questions could be:
What didn't quite work out and why?
How have I let myself down?
What would I have wanted to do differently and why?
What haven't I done that I should have done?
What can I learn from this?
The last question is super important. You are asking these questions not to chastise yourself but to learn and grow, so make sure you ALWAYS follow up reflective questions with a question like this one.
P.S. If you previously made your Life Design, a blueprint for your future, it is time to get that out and review your progress.
Step 2. Jump into the future and work back from your Best Possible Year.
When you have completed your year review, it is time to think about the year to come. But before we go into the nitty gritty of goal setting, let's have some fun!
To help my clients come up with goals for the next year, I like to give them a visualization exercise. It is basically a variation of what is called the Best Possible Future Self exercise. The BPFS exercise helps you step into your future self and imagine what is possible. Why not apply this to the year to come? It is a great way to unlock your desires and dreams. Here is how it goes:
Imagine you are at the end of next year and you are looking back at the year as if it were already done. You feel intensely happy with where you are now in life, who you are, and how the year has gone. It has truly been an amazing year!
Looking back from the future, now reflect back on how next year went (are you still following me?). From this perspective, describe where you are now, what made this year so great? Think of things like the trips you went on, the goals that you have accomplished, the people you met, and the person you have become.
In essence, you are asking yourself this:
What made this year such an amazing year?
Next, just start writing again and enjoy! Write down everything that comes up and keep reminding yourself that you are at the end of that particular year, looking backward.
Isn’t this a fun exercise? It is not only fun but very powerful too. It will make you aware of what your blueprint for success and happiness looks like and gives you a good idea of what goals to set, what to prioritize, etc. Furthermore, this will definitely help you get motivated and excited about the year to come!
Step 3. You are ready to set goals
All that we have done has led up to this final step. Now that you have a vision for the year to come, it is time to take everything you have done so far and combine it. Let's recap.
You have reviewed your year and have evaluated where you are in life
You now know what worked, what didn't work, what you want to change, and what you want to focus on, and may already have come up with some inspiration for the future.
You have thought about what an ideal year would look like
During step 2, you have jumped into the future and have taken the insights that you have gotten during your review to create your perfect year.
You also may have reviewed your goals of last year and have taken a look at how you're doing big picture-wise.
This means that you now have all the building blocks to start designing the year ahead. In other words, you are now ready to set goals for the next year.
An easy way to do this is to take your Year Review, take a tool like the Wheel of Life, and think about what areas you want to improve and how. Write down the perfect outcome and do it as detailed as possible. Make sure you frame this in an empowering way though, don't state your goals in the negative. Envision the perfect outcome and formulate your goals in a way that inspires you. For example, phrase your goals starting with:
“I want to do X or Y” instead of “I don't want to do X or Y anymore”
I’d like to start my goals with the phrase “I am going to” because to me it feels more definite and actionable, but look for what feels empowering for you. The rule of thumb is that when you write it down, it needs to inspire you and evoke some kind of excitement.
P.S. If you have previously done a complete Blueprint Design of Your Life, decide on which goals you want to focus on this year and think about what this year's milestones can be.
Step 4. Time to plan your year.
Now we are getting to the most fun part. It is time to start planning your year!
Think about your personal, career, or business development goals. I am a business owner and lifestyle entrepreneur, so my personal and professional goals are often intertwined but you can do them separately if that feels better.
1) Get into the right mindset
First, let’s get you in the right state of mind with some prompting questions.
Think about these questions:
What courses do I want to follow or what personal development events do I want to attend?
What retreats, trips, and holidays do I want to go on?
What bucket list or adventures do I want to tick off this year?
What new hobbies or sports do I want to take on?
What major events do I have scheduled, like weddings and such?
What business or career milestones or marketing events do I have planned for the year?
These are going to be the building blocks of your year, so jot down your answers somewhere. Don't overthink them, at this point you are just brainstorming and making a list. By now, you probably have a good idea of what you want to do or accomplish, just write this down.
Tip: Have a central place to write them down. I use a kanban board in Notion to do my Year Plan and I always have a column with the name Inbox where I can easily add anything that comes to mind. I’ll show you in a short screen recording in the next section.
2) Create a timeline for the year
Next, create a (visual) timeline. I use Notion to create a timeline of the year by using the lists as months as shown below in the short video. It creates a nice visual overview and is easy to set up. because you can move the cards around freely, it really feels like you are creating a masterpiece out of your year :)
Take a look at this video and see how it looks.
Now go ahead and first fill it with the essentials. What are the essentials? Everything that supports your physical and mental health, well-being, and happiness, so start with scheduling vacations, fun trips, retreats, wellness weekends, etc. These elements form the foundation on which you will build your year.
Schedule your goals too
Now take your personal and professional goals from step 3 and turn them into milestones. Milestones are like way markers, think about what the road toward reaching your goals could look like. What milestones can you come up with? When would you like to have accomplished or reached those? Where would you like to be at certain points in the year? Add them to your Year Plan.
Add in the rest
Lastly, add in obligations and other events. You will probably find that these will result in some conflicts in your Year Plan, but it is better to rearrange your essentials when needed than having to schedule your essentials as an afterthought. They are called Essentials for a reason :) If there is any conflict, think about how to rearrange everything without compromising too much.
Keep tweaking it until it feels right
Keep tweaking your Year Plan until you feel that it is going to be an amazing year. Really tune in with yourself during this process and see how your feelings change.
You are now set up for your best year ever! But you need to do one more thing.
That's it! If you have come this far in this article, you are already a winner. However, just reading will not help you create your best year ever. To really get the results that you are looking for, you’ll need to take action on what you just learned. Don't worry, I am going to give you final tips on how to accomplish this.
Five steps to turn knowledge into action
Re-read this article.
Re-read it with the mindset of wanting to distill concrete actions.
Turn theseinto Action Points or to-dos.
Take a look at your calendar and schedule a time to do you “to do's”. I recommend that you reserve at least 90 minutes (but preferably more) to do the different elements and possibly divide them up into different sessions.
Finally, find an accountability partner. Someone who is supportive, but who will also challenge you and hold you accountable.
Fun tip: How about sharing your year vision with a friend or with your accountability partner? Wouldn’t it be fun if next year, around the end of the year you can look back together and wonder at all the amazing things you have done?
There you have it. You are now ready to design your best year ever. I hope you are feeling excited and eager to start with what you have just read. If you have any questions or want to share your masterpiece, just send me a message at.
Take it to the next level with this awesome template bundle!
I know all the steps can feel overwhelming, so I have created a Notion workspace that contains all the exercises with easy-to-follow instructions. Furthermore, it allows you to easily create a multi-year archive of your Year-End Reflections. You can buy the entire bundle here.