By Kate Frachon

Looking Back at 2019: Worksheet & Yearly Planning Part 1


By reflecting upon what worked and what didn’t this year, you can gain valuable insights to help you with what’s to come.

Can you believe that 2019 is almost over? 

It is crazy to think all the way back to January when we were just dreaming up and setting our yearly theme and goals for this year. How has this year gone for you?

Whether you are right on track, or you’re miles away from where you thought you’d be, there is a lot to learn from your journey this year — especially as you head into planning for 2020. That’s why we are going to be releasing our annual 4-part Yearly Planning Series over the next four weeks here on the blog, to help you collect all of your lessons learned and get on track for your best new year’s goals.

First up is Part 1: Looking Back at 2019. Download your free worksheet here!

Here are links to the rest of the series:

Your 2019 year in review: reflection and growth

Once you have your worksheet downloaded, find a quiet place and time to work on filling it out. The more thought and focus that you give to this process, the more you will get out of it.

Think of it like an investment in your growth and in your future success.

The best way to get started is to get yourself into a reflective state of mind. Don’t try to fill out the worksheet based on how you are feeling right now, today. Instead, take some time to think back on the year as a whole, and to reflect on specific ups and downs.

If you use a planner, flip back to the beginning of this year. Spend some time reading through your notes and plans from that time. What were you thinking about? What were you hoping for in 2019? What did you want to leave behind?

You might be surprised to see where your head was at 12 months ago! Life and work can change a lot in a short amount of time, so it’s possible that you had no idea where you would be by December. That’s not necessarily a bad thing! It is just something to notice.

Other details to take note of are the things you were working on and dreaming about early in the year. It’s so easy to forget the specifics of our life, even in the fairly recent past.

Take a moment to remember and reflect on the successes you had early in the year. Maybe there was a big report you had to prepare and present in February that was a huge success; even if it doesn’t feel like a big deal now, remember how good it felt to accomplish that goal at the time.

The more we move forward, the more we see that is ahead of us. But don’t let your bright future take away from the successes you had in the past.

Then there are the details that are less fun to remember. As you think about your successes, take a moment to think about your challenges too. Are there goals you completely forgot about? Projects that didn’t go as planned?

Resist the urge to gloss over the rough patches; they have so much to teach you too.

If you did a post-mortem or self-reflection at the time of the challenge, look over those notes. Are there any lessons you took away at the time that still apply to your life right now? 

If you don’t have notes to go from, just try reflecting on those challenges. How did it feel? Why did it happen? Have circumstances changed since then, or are you still encountering similar challenges today? Is there anything you can do to improve your outcomes for future goals?

Filling out your worksheet

Now that you’ve reflected on the past year, you are in a good place to start filling out your worksheet and drawing out the lessons that will guide you into the new year.

Here are the questions you’ll need to answer:

  • What was the best thing that happened this year?
  • What were your goals this year that you achieved?
  • What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • Were there things you wanted to do but didn’t?
  • When did you have the most fun?

These might sound like simple questions, but they are actually asking you to dig deep and be really honest about your year. Some things might feel really good to answer, while others might feel painful. 

Try not to judge yourself as you complete this worksheet; just be honest. Think of it like a science experiment: the results are not good or bad, they’re just data.

And you will use this data to be even more amazing next year.

On the second page of the worksheet, you’ll find questions that dive a little deeper. Here, you will list out specific examples of areas where you are winning and where you can improve:

  • What are the things that went well?
  • What are the things that could be improved?

It is just as important to be specific about your wins as about your losses. We usually remember our failures much more clearly than our successes (because they hurt), so this is an opportunity to get a clear picture of both sides.

If you’re having trouble remembering specific successes and failures, try flipping through your planner (or even your email inbox) to see what the highlights and lowlights were of every month.

Finally, the last question on the worksheet asks you to bring it all together:

  • What are your biggest lessons from the last year?

Now that you have a full worksheet with your feelings and data about 2019 as a whole, it is time to start looking for themes and lessons learned.

Read over your answers. It might help to step away for a few hours or days, and then read your responses again, when they’re not so fresh in your mind. This can help clear themes pop out that you might not see in the moment.

If you’re reading this blog, I can assume that you have pretty high standards for yourself — Ink+Volt readers tend to have big goals and big dreams! Make sure you’re not being too hard on yourself when it comes to drawing out lessons learned. Sometimes the lesson can be really positive, like learning that you are really good at a certain skill.

Some of your lessons learned will certainly be based on failures too, but don’t beat yourself up over those ones. The fact that you are completing this process means that those failures will not stay failures — they are now a step towards your future success.

Stay tuned for Part 2 next week, and the rest of this series, which will release every week through the end of the year! We can’t wait to hear how this process goes for you.

Read part 2 here!

(And don’t forget to order your 2020 Ink+Volt Planner now to make sure next year is your best one yet!)