How to do a Year-End Review for Future Success

by - January 15, 2022

 How do you decide what goals you want to complete in the upcoming year? Do you use the old cliche goals that everyone is going for? Drink more water, lose weight, exercise regularly, make more money, etc... or do you strategically plan your goals for the new year by looking at what you accomplished the year before? Today, I'm going to show you exactly how you can do a year-end review to help you create a plan for the future success you want!

How to do a Year-End Review for Future Success

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Updated for 2024

First of all, why should you even do an end-of-year review? Wouldn't it be better to start focusing on the year ahead?

You probably already know the answer is "no", and that is obvious because to get where you want to be, you need to be able to see where you are coming from. You might not have reached your goals last year, so moving forward with the same goals, and the same plan (or no plan at all) would be a waste of your time. We don't want that here!

Before I set my goals for the year, I look back on my previous year, and I note how my life went in all aspects. This gives me a clear understanding of where I can improve, and it gives me a starting point for setting all of my goals for the upcoming year.

I look at the goals that I didn't reach, and then I look at my motivations for reaching that goal to see I still want to reach it. I also look at my plan for reaching the goal to see where I went wrong. This way, I can set goals that I am more likely to reach in the upcoming year, and I can improve my goal-setting process each year for future success!

Today, I want to show you how you can do a year-end review so you can reach your goals! Let's dive right in!

How to do a Year-End Review for Future Success

The method I am going to be showing uses a bullet journal, but you can do your end-of-year review in any notebook or a blank piece of paper!

There are a lot of different elements that you can add to your year-end review, so I'm going to list them here and then you can mix and match them to create a bullet journal layout that you like, and that fits your needs.

Some of them are going to help you figure out where you are in your life, and where you can improve, and some of them are just for fun. Perfect for if you like to use your bullet journal as a memory keeper as well!

Side Note - I'm sorry there are so many blurred-out sections on these layouts. I hope you can still see how I set up each one. Since these layouts are year-end reviews, they have a good deal of personal information on them that I need to keep private.

How to do a Year-End Review for Future Success

1. Main Events

First of all, you'll want to make a section on your layout for the main events that happened in your year. You should do this because, of course, the main events will have had a big influence on every other part of your layout (goals for the year, etc) so it is a good place to start.

This gets you into thinking about your year, and everything that happened, and if you didn't complete many of your goals, the main events section may tell you why.

This is also great for memory purposes. If you don't keep a journal, you can have all of the main events of the year in one place.

I like to divide the main events section into monthly sections, but this isn't necessary.

2. Highlights

What were the highlights of your year? Besides the main event section, I like to have a highlight section to "highlight" the best parts of my year. If you feel like you didn't have a good year, this can motivate you to focus and find on the good things that happened during your year.

Hopefully, there were at least a few positive experiences in your year to remember!

For my layout this year, I added the highlights at the top of the page, along with a little icon for each (and I did mess up on one of them. Whoops!)

3. Rate Your Year

Next, look at your highlights and at the main events that happened throughout your year, and decide how your year was. I like to do a scale of 1-10, but you might choose to do 0-5 stars or a percentage, etc.

Remember to take into account the following things...

  • How many of your goals you reached.
  • How you improved your life over the year (new habits picked up, bad habits dropped)
  • How strong your relationships are.
  • How you advanced in your career.

When looking back at your year, you'll be able to see at a glance how good your year was!

4. 3 Words of the Year

Did you notice any one area of your life being the main focus of your year?

If you have a word of the year every year, you may choose to include it here. This is a great exercise for evaluating and putting into words how your year went.

If your year felt really short, you can put "short", if your year felt rushed, you can write "rushed". Doing this exercise will help you see if your life is focused on what you want it to be focused on, or if you need to work on taking more time to relax, etc.

5. Movie or Book Title for Your Year

This one is obviously just for fun! How would you describe your year as a book title or a movie title?

Have some fun and come up with a catchy name for your year. For example, 2020 was a big change for pretty much all of us. You might have titled that year, "Pure Chaos" or "Unexpected Events".

Adding some fun elements to your layout can help you think outside of the box and be more creative!

How to do a Year-End Review for Future Success

6. Quote of the Year

Every year, I pick a quote for the year. On my end-of-year review, I write down my quote again. For 2020, my quote was "The best way to predict the future is to create it".

For 2021, my quote was "Today is your opportunity to build the tomorrow you want".

This year, I'm going to be turning the page and starting a new chapter of my life so I picked the quote "The only impossible journey is the one you never begin".

If you don't have a quote for the year, you can do a search for "motivational quote" or "inspirational quote" to find a quote for your layout.

On the other hand, if you want to start having a quote of the year every year, you can check out some of my previous bullet journal setups for inspiration!

7. Photos

On my 2020 year-in-review bullet journal layout, I included some photos so I can "capture the moment". I haven't done it myself, but some other bullet journalists do a "year in polaroids" layout. You take a photo every month, and then you add it into your bullet journal.

This would be a great idea if you want to get into scrapbooking, but you aren't sure where to start. Just add some photos and cute washi-tape to your bullet journal!

8. List Your Goals

I like to have a section on my year-in-review layout to go over my goals for the year. First of all, I count how many goals I completed, and then I write down how many goals I set as a fraction. In 2021, I completed 17/21 goals so I can see that I did fairly well.

For 2020, I only completed 12/21 goals, but I cut myself some slack because after all, we all aren't going to be forgetting what happened in 2020 anytime soon.

Below the fraction (goals completed/total goals), I wrote down all of the goals I completed during the year, so if I'm feeling unmotivated or a little bit down, I can flip to this layout, and see how much I accomplished last year!

9. Level 10 Life

Doing a year-end review for me has two parts. First, I create an end-of-year review bullet journal layout, and then I create a level 10 life bullet journal layout. You might combine yours into one layout depending on how much room you have on your bullet journal page.

If you haven't heard of the Level 10 Life method, basically, it is a method from the book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. I read the book myself, and it has some handy tips for stepping into the world of personal development, so if you feel like you need to improve your life, then that book is a great place to start!

Speaking of leveling up your life, let's get back into how to do a Level 10 Life bullet journal layout.

You have 10 categories for different areas of your life, and then you rate each one on a scale of 1-10. (This year, I am using 12 categories because I wanted a different category for each month.)

Here are some category ideas...

  • Faith + Religion
  • Adulting
  • Education
  • Business or Career
  • Personal Development
  • Nutrition
  • Fitness
  • Mental Health
  • Family + Friends
  • Finances
  • Contributing
  • Environment

After you rate yourself on a scale of 1-10 in each of the categories you pick, you list goal ideas of how you could improve in each area of your life.

This year, I also noted on the chart, how much each area of my life improved or didn't improve on the chart. (You can see it in the picture of my Level 10 Life layouts above. I added a plus if that area of my life improved, and a minus if that area of my life regressed.)

10. First Times

Was this year an adventure for you? How many things did you try out for the first time? If you had a lot of firsts this year, then maybe you should have a dedicated section for them on your layout!

How to do a Year-End Review for Future Success

11. Best of...

This is a very broad section, but you might want to write down your "Best [insert section] of the Year". For 2020, I wrote down my best compliments of the year. This way, if I'm having a bad day, I can flip to that layout and read those compliments.

This section is also great for specific hobbies! If you love to read, you can have a "Best Books Read in 2021" section or if you are big into traveling, you can have a "Best Places Visited in 2021".

12. Ideas for Improvement

How can you improve your life next year? By filling out this layout, are you starting to see any places where you can improve your life?

Did you spend too much time online? Is there a new hobby you want to start?

Now, is the time to jot down these ideas so you have somewhere to start when you do your goal setting for the year!

13. About Me

Lastly, you may want to add an "About Me" section to your layout so you have a snapshot of who you were over the year, and so when you flip back through your old bullet journals, you can see how much you have grown as a person.

Here are a few things you may want to add to your "About Me" section...

  • Age
  • Favorite Things to Do
  • Favorite Food
  • Favorite Color
  • Favorite Book
  • Favorite Movie

How to do a Year-End Review for Future Success

Pick which of the sections in this post you liked, and then mix and match them to create a year-in-review bullet journal layout that works for you. I hope that this helped you evaluate your year so you can go into the new year ready to achieve your goals!

If you liked this post, you can read these ones too! :)

Thank you so much for reading this post! I hope you have a productive week!
If you found this post helpful, please share it. Thanks! :)

How to do a Year-End Review for Future Success

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