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  • Annual Life Review

    I’ve never thought of what I do every year around this time as a “life review,” but it’s a pretty accurate term. My birthday is at the end of the calendar year, so between that and New Year’s, since I was a teenager, it has been a natural thing for me to write about the past year and more importantly, what I want to have happen in the coming year.

    A few years ago, the weekly newsletter I get from Cheryl Richardson suggested some questions to consider once a year (I think her birthday is also near the end of the year so the timing worked out great for me). I’ve been using her suggestions ever since, and have reproduced them below. I’m not quite sure, since I didn’t include attributes in my journal, but I think I may have mixed in suggested questions from other sources as well.

    Even if your birthday is not in November or December, this sort of “life review” is a good thing to do once a year, whether at your birthday or at New Year’s. For me, it takes the place of New Year’s resolutions and is more about prioritizing and goal-setting than traditional resolutions. It helps me focus on what is important to me and how I want to grow as a person. It’s also amazing how, even though I often forget the specifics of each goal, when I look back at the end of the year, most of them have come to pass. That, I believe, is the power of the mind.

    Here are the things I ask myself each year:

    • List 5 things that complete the following sentences:
      • This year, I am ___.
      • I will not ___.
      • I would like ___.
      • I will ___.
      • I love ___.
      • I hate ___.
    • What advice would I give myself right now?
    • List 5 jobs I would want to try in the next year.
    • How did I do with last year’s intentions?
    • What are my intentions for this coming year? (I try to limit the list to 10 intentions.)

    After answering the questions, I have sometimes written letters to myself when I have been so inclined. It’s nice to go back in subsequent years and see what I was thinking, how things worked out, and if there’s something I’ve put on the back burner that I want to start working on again.

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