‹ Maneesh Madambath

Easy Annual Reviews

Feb 10, 2022

Planning and reviewing ones year in a journal is a a great habit, it is like making a packing list for a long journey, and then checking things off. It gives you the confidence that you are prepared for what’s ahead; it gives you a sense of direction in life.

But when you just write what you want from the year, and then write what happened, you miss a crucial ingredient - focus. You don’t get to recognise patterns in your choices and how you spend your time. Or maybe you do, but it did not work for me. It is less analytical than having a standard way to value your time.

So I thought of a simple set of 5 questions to ask at the beginning and end of each year.

The goal is to ask the same questions every year instead of a ramble at the end of it. Whether you look at your year in terms of goals achieved, or you evaluate your years in how you feel, these questions work for both cases. There are no right answers, and that’s the beauty of it, over a few years you get to see how your answers change and see your growth in a tangible manner.

There are aspects of your life that might not get captured by this set of questions. It doesn’t give leeway to capture what you think about the year either. Lastly, as most year end endeavours tend to be, this is likely to be prone to recency and selection biases. These are the drawbacks of this system. That is why it is good to have a summary note at the end, to account for them.

5 Questions

  1. What do you have to show for your time? Top 3-5 things that were remarkable, or gave a sense of achievement

  2. What took most of your time? A honest review of where your time went, best to go through your To-Do app’s logbook

  3. What did you care about? Write the one thing that mattered to you this year as you look back on it.

  4. How do you feel about your mind and body? Sometimes you have to see something to understand it. And writing about how you feel about your health puts it in front of your eyes.

  5. What kind of adult were you? What changed within you? (Hat tip pnts) I found this question in another annual review template, and I loved it. What values did you display the most, and what do you wish to improve on as a person. If that’s too much, just write what were you responsible for and how did you go about it. This is also a great place to write about what changed inside you. A chance to see how you evolved in the year.

A summary of the year

Try to keep this no longer than a paragraph or two. This is not a replacement for your journal.


Keeping this exercise short and to the point will get you in a habit of doing this. Skip a question if you don’t have an answer. If it persists, then consider it more deeply. The following list is constructed for a review, when planning you will ask more forward looking questions, e.g. What do you want to show for your time ahead?