From The






From The


How To Review Your Year

As the year comes to a close, I’m thinking about what I want to accomplish for next year. I want to take a different approach to my goal setting and planning for the year. In fact, I want to get away from the concept of “planning” – which is kind of shocking. I am feeling too connected to my plans and too disappointed when things don’t go as planned, even if it’s only that I didn’t fold the laundry.

So I did what I always do in these kinds of situations, I went to Google. And I found “life design.”

It’s a different take on planning and goal setting – it acknowledges that everything we use has been designed to solve a problem. Designs are open to change, to failure, and to trial-and-error (just think about how different the iPod came to look over the years, and how the iPhone has changed). Planning can feel fixed and immutable. For many of us, it’s difficult to change plans. But a design is meant to be changed.

Enough on that, this isn’t about designing your life. Except that to design, you have to evaluate where you are. Designing my life for 2018 and beyond means taking a moment to reflect honestly about 2017.

Over the last few months, I’ve been integrating monthly and weekly reviews using some very simple questions:


  • What worked? What did I accomplish?
  • What is hanging over my head? Do I do something about it or let it go?

Monthly Review


  • Accomplishments
  • Big events
  • How am I different?
  • Struggles and solutions
  • Things I learned and want to remember
  • Brain dump
  • Start, Stop, Continue

I’ve found that these regular reviews help me to check in with myself and gain insight and perspective into my life that I otherwise might have overlooked. I write all this down in my journal, which is based on the Bullet Journal system that is all the rage right now. Check out
Ryder Carroll’s system if you’d like to give it a try yourself.

Much of this is also going to be the basis for my yearly review. Here are some of the questions and strategies I’m planning to use:

  • What am I most proud of?
  • What worked for me?
  • What didn’t work for me and what am I going to do differently next year?
  • What am I grateful for?
  • How did I do against the goals I set for myself?

I am also going to start the process of designing my life for 2018. To do that, I first identified the areas of my life that are the most important to me:

  • Wife to John
  • Co-parent with John
  • Mom to Ruby
  • Personal Development
  • Physical Wellness
  • Professional  
  • Family & Friends
  • Co-Curriculars (e.g. Leadership Inspirations, being an adjunct faculty member)
  • Citizen
  • Home & Household

Life Design

Then, I’ll take time to reflect on each of those areas of my life using these prompts:

  • The purpose of the area in my life, or why it matters to me
  • How satisfied I am in this area, on a scale of 1-10
  • What would I want in the “ideal” sense, if different
  • Key actions that would get me from “here” to “there” (3-5 actions for the year)
  • Supporting actions
  • Design my monthly, weekly and daily activities around these actions
  • Assess monthly
  • Reassess quarterly

Why do all this work? Why should we take stock of our year in such detail? Why not just move on? I am reminded of the quote attributed to Abraham Lincoln, “Give me 6 hours to chop down a tree, I will spend 4 sharpening my axe.” So, as I am ready to put 2017 behind me, I have to be sharp to do so. As leaders, having a clear sense of where we actually are can make a big difference in ensuring our next set of goals are challenging and achievable, rooted in reality and striving for more. How can I know where I want to go if I don’t know where I have been or where I am? This whole process has helped me see themes in my life more clearly so I know better what is really getting in the way of building the life I really want.

*Leadership Lesson*

Reviewing your year might seem overwhelming if it’s the first time you’ve tried it. And that’s okay! We’re not often asked to stop and reflect on our lives in this way. So, remember that the main idea is just to gain insights from the last 365 days of your life. Use it as an opportunity to celebrate your accomplishments, identify areas for growth and change, express gratitude, re-evaluate your priorities, and get excited for the year ahead. Give these questions a try, find a method of expression that works for you, break the process up into manageable steps for yourself (Rome wasn’t built in a day) and have fun with it!  

*Meet the Author*

Kenna’s life work is about helping people work better together – and she’s starting to realize that this is not just professional work but personal too! Kenna fills her time with meaningful relationships with her husband of 11 years, 2 year old daughter, incredible family & friends and significant work at City of Hope, Alliant International University and Leadership Inspirations while carving time for herself