Why You Should Do a Year-End Review Instead

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This special guest post is written by Ron Parnaso of Refactor Daily. Thank you, Ron! Please make sure to check out his bio at the bottom. 


Each New Year’s we look forward with hope and focus on making the following year better than the last. Although this decision can be done at any time, starting on the first day of the year lends your resolution community support and gravitas. That said, only 9.2% of New Year’s resolutions are successful! The solution to making 2019 your best year yet might not lie with A New Year’s Resolution, but instead with a Year-End Review.

Ron Parnaso of Refactor Daily shares three clever steps to take you through a year-end review—which could be more impactful than setting resolutions.

New Year’s Resolutions Lack Congruency.

New Year’s resolutions often sound similar to these sorts of goals:

  • Eat healthier
  • Get more exercise
  • Save money

While there is nothing wrong with any of these resolutions, they lack congruence with existing thoughts and actions. Achieving a new goal without creating new habits simply isn’t possible—you can’t expect new results if you’re repeating the same old behaviors. Luckily, a Year-End Review does not require building new habits or systems. Instead, it builds upon what you are already doing—and allows you to see which actions you should do less often!

A Year-End Review is a Decision to be Happier.

A Year-End Review forces us to take a look back and assess the last 365 days. The goal certainly isn’t to look back with regret or disappointment, but to recall the past year through a learning mindset—gathering data on what did and didn’t work. How much did you enjoy hiking during that weekend camping trip? Was spending lunch with that co-worker actually enjoyable… or was it stressful? Maybe there was a time when looking back, you don’t feel you did much at all. Try to remember your focus during those times. Was that time well spent? As we analyze 2018, this can now be our baseline to improve our 2019 plan. This decision to review and assess 2018 enables us to make the upcoming year a happier one. You may be asking, how do I do it exactly? The following are 3 steps you can do right now to make 2019 amazing.

3 Steps to Make 2019 the Best Year Yet!

Before you start you will want to create two lists: one list with the heading “Awesome!” and the other with the heading: “Meh.” Then open your calendar—and rewind to last January!

Step 1: Create your Awesome and Meh Lists

As you start looking through your calendar a week at a time, take note of all places, people, or events that brought you a sense of accomplishment, happiness, or an overall positive experience. Take a moment to celebrate each one by recording it on the Awesome List. Then, in the Meh List, write down the experiences that made you feel less than happy.

Step 2: Do More Awesome and Less Meh

Go through your Awesome List and pick the top 20%—the events or accomplishments that gave you the most positive experience. Take note of what you were doing, who you were doing it with, and how that made you feel. Now, for 2019, do more of it! Put it in your calendar and set a date. If it was with other people, get it on their calendar as well.

Now take an honest look at your Meh List. These are the things that did not work for you. If possible, decide to no longer do any of it. Or if it includes things we can’t control, decide to change how you feel about it. When you have to schedule these activities in the new year, be sure to pencil in some time for mindfulness so you can focus on how you respond to the things you can’t control.

Step 3: Less Meh Requires Creating More Awesome

Just doing fewer of things on your Meh List is not enough. You need to replace the time freed up with new habits or activities in order to reinforce those changes. So, just setting a resolution of “Save money” is not the whole answer; you need to set a date to plan your budget and make time during your day to review your expenses. If you really want to exercise more, add the time to your calendar now! Build it as part of your morning or evening routine. This is the key to not only making 2019 better than last year but to make it the best year ever!

Ron Parnaso of Refactor Daily shares three clever steps to take you through a year-end review—which could be more impactful than setting resolutions.

New Year’s Challenge: Do Your Year-End Review Now!

Use the steps outlined above, spend 30-60 minutes and write down what was awesome and what was meh in 2018. Then in your 2019 calendar, plan the top 20% of positive activities into your calendar, and do more of it. Replace the actions, activities, and unaccounted time with new actions that can bring you happiness and meet your goals.

Let Me Know

How did you do on this New Year’s Challenge? Do you have tips on making 2019 the best year ever? Do you have any other suggestions? Please send me your feedback at ron@refactordaily.com with the subject #YearEndReview in the subject line.

Guest Author Bio

No different than anyone else, Ron decided to ask the question, “What does it take to be successful?” Like many of you, Ron is continuously working on the answer. Along the way, he has met incredible people and learned amazing tips, small incremental changes, applied to his daily life, that brings him one small step closer every day. He is incredibly excited to share them with you!

Professionally, Ron has worked at Fortune 50 companies and currently runs several online businesses with a focus on investing and personal development. He currently lives in Silicon Valley, CA, with his wife and two sons.

You can find Ron on Twitter @ronparnaso and online at Refactor Daily.

13 thoughts on “Why You Should Do a Year-End Review Instead”

  1. This is something my husband and I tend to do. Reminds us of all we accomplished. Tells us what needs to be done the next year.

  2. This post is definitely on the right track. As I have come to consider it over the years, I see that creating good habits (what’s talked about above) is the only way that you’ll reach your goals. I talk a bit more about it in my own post for crushing goals. I hope your 2019 is way more awesome and little to no meh.

  3. I love the idea of using what was great and not so great about a previous year to plan the next. I’ve never been a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. They’re always so grand and unspecific. I prefer setting manageable and doable goals throughout the week as i pursue my longterm goals.

    1. Crystal, happy you enjoyed the article and thanks for taking the time to comment. If you decide to try it, let me know how it goes. Would love to hear from you.

    1. Exactly! We already do this in other aspects of our lives and at different times. Why not do it for your own personal life? Thanks for readying and look forward to hear how it goes for you.

  4. Great read, I always start by reviewing my past year, to celebrate what I accomplished and start my new list with the ones that I still need to work on.

  5. Great post, and encourages me, because this is basically what I did in a recent post. While I didn’t follow the exact steps described here, I did reflect on the blessings of 2018, as well as the lessons learned. My Dad always used to call these “lessons of life,” and emphasized the importance of applying what we have learned as we move forward.

    1. What is great about a year end review, is that it doesn’t need to be in January. Looking forward to hearing how it goes for you! @RonParnaso

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