The Year in Review: An Inventory of Wins, Losses, “Ahas” and Gratitude

As 2016 quickly comes to an end, it’s time to look at the year in review and to take inventory of what happened over the past 365 days. Every year starts out with ambitions and goals; maybe even a New Year’s resolution or two.  Along the way, however, many of us fail to track what we have accomplished or experienced, a task that is vital to our growth. Without doing so, when the year comes to an end, we really don’t know how to celebrate because we probably don’t know what to celebrate.

Tracking or journaling has always allowed me to see where I am relative to where I have been. Another activity is one I began five years ago when I stumbled upon the workbook, Living Your Best Year Ever, by personal growth author Daren Hardy. The book is a guide on how to plan and memorialize a year of gratitude, wins, losses, and “aha” moments.

Following the book’s instructions, three friends of mine and I consistently get together to “mastermind” or synergize how we can live our best year ever, year after year. We meet every other Friday from 6:30 a.m.-8:30 a.m. to discuss our previous two weeks of and work. We also schedule a brief Monday morning 30-minute phone call every week.  It takes dedication and transparency if we truly want to grow, and we do.

At year’s end, we schedule a two-day retreat to review the entire year. It’s exhausting, it’s emotional, and it’s challenging. It takes a good 15-20 hours to prepare for the event in order to come fully prepared.

This year, we went to beautiful Deep Creek, Md., to participate in the two-day event. We began day one, session one focusing on gratitude. One person at a time, we discussed all that we were grateful for throughout the year, and we wrapped the session by describing the “top three” things we were grateful for during the year.

We followed the workbook, and during the next three sessions we discussed wins, losses, and “aha moments we had throughout the year. At the end of each session, we shared the top three in each category.

It’s almost like American Idol, with one speaker and three judges, but make no mistake, we aren’t passing judgment, we are demanding accountability. While going through the topics of gratitude, wins, and aha moments feels good and uplifting; sharing our losses is tough. Each of us has set goals and some of them we did not achieve.

As a member of our group, we have to be ready when we are called out on our shortcomings. Questions will be asked: What stopped you from achieving this specific goal? Do you truly want to achieve the goal you created? Are you lying to us in saying it’s something you want yet at the same time you haven’t made it a priority?

It’s not for the faint of heart but the session is designed to help us grow and take responsibility for what we claimed we wanted during the year.

What helps throughout the year is the weekly tracking system we use. The Living Your Best Year Ever workbook functions like a journal by allowing us to track weekly. We track our three top goals for the year, three goals we hope to achieve each month, and three goals each week.  The weekly and monthly goals are steps toward the accomplishment of the big three annual goals.

In addition to that, there are 10 action steps to track daily that guide us as well. It sounds like a lot and it is. However, by tracking throughout the year, it makes life easier at year’s end when it all comes together.

The goals, and the exercises to get there, encompass all areas of our lives, including the spiritual, family, business, finances, lifestyle, physical and mental health, and personal and business relationships. The year starts by picking four to five goals in each of the areas mentioned, then cutting those goals down to the top 10 and then finally picking the “banner three” from there. What’s truly fascinating is at year’s end, when reviewing the journal — whether or not we’ve hit our banner three goals — when we look at the top 10, odds are we accomplished at least half of them without ever focusing on them.

Take that a step further: Looking at the four to five goals we chose in each area of our lives, we find there’s probably a pretty good chance we’ve accomplished at least half of those as well. Why is this the case? Because it is who we choose to become during the year that determines the success we will have.

In my case, this year I achieved one and a half of my top three goals. You may ask, how did I accomplish half of a goal? The answer is that one of the goals was a two-parter, and I achieved one of the two parts.

Going into the exercise, I was feeling slightly lackluster because I failed to achieve the big three. But when I finished going through the year, and reviewing  all the gratitude, wins, and aha moments, it was obvious to me how great of a year I had.

Motivational speaker Jim Rohn advises to “be a millionaire for what it will make of you.” Defined a different way, he means “set goals for what they will make of you.” I set three BIG goals. I achieved half of the three, and I still had a great year. I was able to see all that I had accomplished along the way and who I had become. It is an empowering feeling and one that builds momentum for planning next year’s goals.

Your future is in your hands if you choose not to have more, but instead to be more. I choose to be all I can be, and then to strive to be more than that. I hope you too experience the positive feeling this effort creates.

Here’s to planning the future.