We had fun in my Writers Group this week – we each did our own Annual Review! Yes, I know ‘fun’ and ‘annual review’ aren’t usually words that go in the same sentence. But hey, Chris Guillebeau from The Art of Non-Conformity is at the heart of this one, so they do!
Not only was it fun, but the process was surprising and really useful too. Chris does a review every year at this time – he doesn’t wait until the New Year to look forward and make plans for what’s ahead. Last night in my monthly New Moon Energy call with Donna Heath, I learnt some more reasons why this part of December is a great time to plot the year ahead.
This week’s New Moon was in Sagittarius, who’s energy is optimistic and expansive, and concerned with the broader picture. It is also linked to travel (which could include an internal journey), adventure and freedom, a quest for meaning, a seeking of answers and looking for truth. It’s about finding answers, so doing your annual review makes so much sense – reflecting back on what you learnt in the past year and looking ahead to what kind of things you’d like to be doing and discovering in the year ahead.
And if that isn’t enough, next Monday brings the Winter Solstice, not just an ancient pagan festival, but in fact, a real physical change in the relationship between the earth and the sun – where our daily dose of sunlit hours start to get longer and the dark nights get shorter. Donna took us through a special visualisation called ‘Welcoming and Transforming the Light’ and it’s an idea we can apply very much to ourselves as well as the sun at this time of year.
So, how do you start? Well, here’s how I adapted Chris’s Annual Review process for my group, as we only had 2 hours (Chris gives himself 2 weeks!). Chris also has a useful spreadsheet that helps you document the whole thing – download it here.
Step 1: REVIEW THE PREVIOUS YEAR
Start by looking back at the year that’s coming to an end.
What went well in 2009? list at least 3 things, preferably 10.
What did not go well, what didn’t work? list at least 3 things
Here are a few things I’m proud of from this year: again, list at least 3 things.
Looking at your answers, what lessons have you learned in 2009? (eg. to trust your intuition, to listen more, to slow down, to speak up, to act rather than procrastinate, to manage your finances better, to ask your clients for feedback regularly, etc.) Chris separates his lessons into life lessons and business lessons, which is a good idea.
Write these on a piece of card so that you can put them somewhere you can see them every day in January!
Finally, if you had to give 2009 a title or a theme, what would you call it? look for some themes that have emerged and select one that sums it up best for you (eg. The Year of Self-Discovery, The Year of Taking Action, The Year of Gathering Strength… etc.). Write it down!!
Step 2: OUTLINE YOUR GOALS, OUTCOMES & THEMES FOR NEXT YEAR
The next step is the heart of the whole review. Chris goes through a big list of categories, ranging from personal and family categories to various career, travel, and growth categories. Download his useful excel spreadsheet HERE.
However, this was a creative writing group, so I set different categories to help nurture the artists in all of us;
- Writing (creativity)
- Interesting People
- Personal Growth & Learning
For each category, set an overall goal and also 3-5 specific, measurable goals. ie. not ‘I’d like more adventure in my life’, instead ‘Climb Mount Kilimanjaro, raising money for charity, by the end of November’.
Then define the overall outcomes you’d like. One year from now, what do you want to have accomplished? – what would you like to be telling us about what you did in 2010 ? Write this statement as a short paragraph. eg. Here’s Chris’s from last year: “At the end of 2009 I will have finished the manuscript for my first book and published 100 essays on the AONC site. I will have visited 20 countries, recovered from my running injury to complete a fourth marathon (or two half-marathons), and built a new 50k/year small business that supports my primary writing goals.”
Now, choose a Theme and Purpose for the next year.
Again, here are Chris’s as an example:
“For me, 2007 was the year of LEARNING as I finished my master’s degree and began this writing project.
2008 was the year of the REVOLUTION as I launched AONC and published A Brief Guide to World Domination.
2009 was the year of CONVERGENCE as I sought to tie together a number of areas of my life that had previously been quite distinct. (I wanted to fully transition to full-time writing without being distracted by a number of other commitments I had taken on.)”
And finally, if you could give the artist or writer or creative or adventurer in yourself a Christmas gift this year to help you in 2010, what would you give yourself ? (Tip – be GENEROUS!!!) Write it down, draw a picture — or even actually go out and get it and stick it under the tree!
Step 3: FOCUS ON WHAT’S MOST IMPORTANT, MAKE DECISIONS & PLAN
Once you know where you’re going, it’s much easier to plan the route. After setting the goals, you can then figure out how to make them happen. Again, Chris’s spreadsheet helps you do this, step-by-step. The idea is to create a road map for the year ahead, not to restrict or limit you, but to help you get where you want to go.
Step 4: ADVENTURERS ONLY! TRAVEL ROUND-UP
To help reassure yourself that there’s a whole world out there and you’re making damn sure you interact with as much of it as possible, try Chris’s travel round up – simply list EVERYWHERE you went in 2009:
- International Travel – list all the places you went in 2009.
- Domestic Trips – list all the places you went in the country you live in in 2009.
- Experiences – fun things (and misadventures too) happen almost everywhere, and it’s great to write these stories down…
- Friends along the way – who did you meet? what were their stories?
- How much did it cost? – just to get an idea of what you spend in a year getting out there (with Chris, it’s his mission so he takes it pretty seriously and does his utmost to use free air miles and other travel discounts wherever possible).
- Virtual connections – and for me, this past year has been a year of connecting with some amazing people around the globe – it’s been fun and like a form of virtual travel – by talking with Donna, I kind of get to visit San Diego once a month, then there was Brian doing his Philosophers Notes in Bali and now Ojai… and Jen in Northern California, and Winifred in New York, Boo in Ibiza, then Sri Lanka and so on… where and who have you connected with this past year? Have fun listing them all…
So, where was the most fun place?
Where was most inspiring?
Where would you go back to again?
And, possibly the best question of all – if you could go ANYWHERE you wanted, where oh where would you like to go in 2010?… don’t worry about HOW you’re going to get there until you’ve got them down – (by the way, my list goes something like this NYC (Jan/Jun), London (Jan), Madrid (Feb), Tokyo (Apr-May), Brands Hatch (May), Sitges (May, Aug & Dec), San Fransisco (Sep), Southern India (Dec-Jan)… hmmm How? I have no idea, but I’m damn well going to try!).
add your Travel 2010 intentions to your spreadsheet and join in the comments on Chris’s great site…
and let me know too – add your comments below!!
Have fun annual reviewing!!
Love & light… Michelle
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