The Annual Review

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The start of a New Year is a natural place for reflection of year’s past and for planning going forward. I’m a firm believer that one should avoid autopilot living at all costs or, as Ferris Bueller said, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. “

I’ve been a fan of Chris Guillebeau’s blog The Art of Non-Conformity: Unconventional Strategies for Life Work and Travel. Chris is 33 years old and headquartered in Portland, OR. He has set out a mission to visit every country in the world before he is 35 and blogs about his experiences. He’s reached 150 countries to date in addition to writing a book and an annual gathering.

One of my favorite blog posts is Guillebeau’s Annual Review. Each December, he stops and reflects on the year that is about to close and he compares what he accomplished and learned versus his intended plan at the start. He then develops a plan for the year to come, which includes a bucket list of activities and even measurement to track his progress. I think this is an excellent example of conscious living. You can read about his 2011 annual review here. He also shares his review process and template here.

Another blogger and associate of Guillebeau – Jonathan Fields – also does an annual review and actually published an annual report. It’s also worth a read and you can download the PDF here.

I did a similar process myself personally and professionally. It was great for clarifying what went well last year and where there were opportunities for improvement. It also made me very conscious of what I wanted to accomplish this year. I’m not yet as transparent as Guillabeau and Fields, but I welcome their example. If you haven’t done a review to start 2012, it’s not too late to start.