Write Your Annual Review (Plus a Free Worksheet to Help)


Take a moment to look back

It’s almost the end of the 2011. Where has the time gone? How was it for you?

For me, it’s been quite a year. I started 2011 with no blog, no iPhone app, and no wife. Now I have all three!

Now it’s December and it’s my favorite time of the year because of the holidays. I do wish one night I’d wake up and see snow covering the city, but that’s unlikely to happen in Jacksonville, FL.

It’s also a great month to do a review of your year. Not just sit and think about it, but find a quiet time with a piece of paper and pen.

Why should you do a review of your year? 

You need to know what worked and what didn’t work this year. You need to make sure you’re doing the right things. You need to know where you’re failing. You need to make sure you’re on the right path.

If we don’t know our situation now, we can’t properly set goals for 2012.

Chris Guillebeau does an annual review and begins with these two questions.

  • What went well this year?
  • What didn’t go well this year?

This is a great place to start. If you need help jogging your memory, take a look at old photos, blog posts, a journal, or anything that will help you remember this past year.

December, not January, is a great month to start planning for 2012. I feel January brings a fresh start. Whatever happened last year is done. The next 12 months are spotless and ready to be filled with whatever we put into it.

If we plan in December, then we can hit the ground running in January, while others take weeks to get started.

Don’t do it like I used to do it. I would think of some resolutions I wanted to make in January. What usually happened? I might do it for a couple weeks or a couple months, but slowly go back to my old ways. By the end of the year, I have completely forgotten what I wanted to change. Then I make those same resolutions the next year. Insanity for sure.

Last year was the first time I had ever done a year in review. Looking back at my 2010 review, I didn’t have many accomplishments, because I started taking action the last few months of the year. Before that my life was the same every day.

When thinking what accomplishments I was most proud of, I could only think of one, which was running my first half marathon in December! I honestly didn’t accomplish anything else worth mentioning.

This year, I’ll have a lot more to write down. I’ll assess what went well, what didn’t, and use that to make 2012 even better.

Doing the year in review shouldn’t be rushed. You should give yourself as long as you need.

Your Year in Review Worksheet

I’ve created a free worksheet that has questions to help you review your year and plan for the next. Download it, print it out and find a quiet time to complete it. Be honest with your answers. These are just for yourself.

If you can’t come up with enough answers, like me last year, then you know you didn’t push yourself enough this year. Let that motivate you for the next.

If you’ve never done a year in review, try it this year. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Don’t just fill this out and put it away in a draw. I encourage you to refer back to it throughout the year. You’re going to need to be reminded.

Download the worksheet now

I really want this to get in as many hands as possible, because I really believe in its effectiveness. Please share it on Twitter, Facebook, Google+, or e-mail it!

Next week, I’ll share my annual review with you.


Finally let me ask:

-What went well for you and what didn’t in 2011?


Photo by MSVG

Like what you read?
If so, please join to get exclusive weekly inspirational emails, and get a FREE COPY of my eBook, Get a Life That Doesn't Suck. Just enter your name and email below:

Powered by WPSubscribers

91 responses to Write Your Annual Review (Plus a Free Worksheet to Help)

  1. Hey Benny,

    Firstly Congratulations on what seemed to be a very busy, eventful and career defining year for yourself, I discovered your blog today and have spent the last hour reading some great posts. I’ve recently started my own adventure into the world of blogging on similar subjects and aims as yourself, I can only take inspiration from what you’ve achieved over the past year. I am currently review my past 12 months having just turned 30 and my main aim for the coming 12 months is to grow my blog and inspire others. After reading about your iphone app success I may even put that in my to do list for next year too! lol. All the best for 2012 and may your success continue. Rodderz

    • Rodderz! Thanks so much for reading. Somehow I missed your comment. I apologize now that it’s a month later. Thanks so much for reading. I completely understand getting started on the world of blogging. There’s lot of rewards from it, but it’s going to take a lot of work, time, and sacrifices. Most blogs only last an average of three months. So you can see how easily people quit.

      I have a new post today that just might help you with your blog! Also there might be a course right for you since you’re just starting to blog. Please come by and check it out!

  2. Love it Benny – this is such an important and often overlooked part of the achievement cycle (Plan, Do, Review). My favorite part of this post was that your 2010 was just regular and “every day was the same.” Now look at how far you’ve come – awesome! Looking forward to seeing your review too ;).

    Do you use a formal goal-setting process (just curious)? I’ve been refining mine over the years and this year turned it into a workshop. It’s been really fun passing along the skillz!

    • Hey Deacon! I’ve come a long way since 2010, but have just scratched the surface I believe. This year was the first year I really wrote my goals down and reviewed them once a week. It’s been so amazing! Before I’d just write down goals or think about it. No wonder I rarely achieved any goals. This year I tried something different and that’s plan, do, review. That’s awesome your goal process turned into a workshop. I bet the people you teach love it. I’ve soaked up Darren Hardy’s stuff, and revisted Jack Canfield and Napoleon Hill, along with others who’ve helped change my life. I’m working on a course (fingers crossed) in which I can teach goal setting to others. I did it, experienced it and want to share it.

      Been a pleasure getting to know you this year and being a part of your journey!

  3. Thank you Benny for this wonderful review list. Writing down my goals for next year is something I am doing this weekend as a matter of fact. I already have them in my mind but told myself this year I’m putting them on paper. Your PDF will come in very handy my friend so thank you for putting this together.

    I have learned so much about myself this past year although I have not had the busy year you have. Creating your blog, having a hit app and marrying your precious Eleanor. What a great year you’ve had so congratulations on that.

    I’ve excited for us both as 2012 creeps up on us. I have no doubt that big things are in store for you, life changing ones to be exact. So here is wishing you all the best with this upcoming year.

    Take care my friend,


    • Adrienne,

      I guess I made up for lost time this year, so accomplished a lot of things! If I had more time to work what I wanted to work on, I would have done more for sure. It sure has been a fun year though! I’m very happy our paths crossed. I don’t remember exactly how, but I’m thankful it happened. It’s been fun to get to know great people like you and seeing the change from the beginning till now. I know 2012 will be even better!

  4. Thanks Benny. This is a great tool and I am going to share with my friends on sparkpeople. Have a great weekend 🙂

  5. This is a great resource! Thanks, Benny!

    I think it’s so important to take some time to reflect, review and plan. A phrase used quite a bit in my business owners group is that “we get what we intend”. We can hope for things or want to change, but unless we intend to make visible changes in our lives, we will be left hoping year after year.

    In order to be intentional about our plans and changes, I think it’s important to be honest about what went well and what didn’t. It also helps to publicly tell others about our goals for the next year so we’re more committed to keeping them!

    • I’m glad you took the time this past weekend to do the worksheet. We definitely need to take time and be honest with ourselves when we review. It does no good to overlook our failures and only focus on the wins.

      It’s been a pleasure to get to know you this year and watch you do great things. I know 2012 is going to be even better and look forward to following along!

  6. I love this idea and thank you for sharing it, Benny! I’ve always enjoyed the process of reflecting on my career in preparation of my employment performance review and yet I haven’t reflected on my personal development on the same detailed level.

    I have accomplished a lot this year, and learned a lot in the process. My life is happier, healthier and more fulfilled and I have my blog and the blogging relationships I’ve built to thank for that.

    So what’s next for my blog and my personal development? Spending some time reviewing what worked, what didn’t, and what steps I want to take next is a great idea!

    Thanks for sharing a great tool along with your great idea! I look forward to spending some time with this.

    Have a grateful day!


    • Hey Chrysta,

      I’m glad you found this worksheet useful. We certainly need to do a review in order to make sure we’re doing the right things in 2012. I had never done one until last year, and even then I feel like I didn’t really fill it out completely. This year, I’m going to be honest with myself and see how I can improve even more.

      I’m glad to read that your life is happier, healthier, and more fulfilled! I’m sure 2012 will be an even better year for you if you continue on this path.

  7. I love the idea. My wife and her friends have done this for the past twenty years and they also make five and ten year plans. They also go for lunch then and they compare notes. I want to take the time to wish every one a Happy Holiday and look forward to alll the comments for the next year.

    • Hey Paul,

      That’s amazing your wife and her friends have done it for so long! Having a group of people to do it with makes them more accountable I would imagine. I’ve been doing it for one year and this will be the second, so I have a long way to go to catch up to your wife and her friends. Happy holidays to you as well and a happy new year! Thanks for being a part of the community here.

  8. Congrats on the amazing year and thanks for the reminder. I made resolutions last year and will be reviewing them as the new year is quickly approaching. Looking forward to your year in review post!

    • Thanks Buck. Glad I could help remind you. Been a pleasure getting to know you this year! Look forward to seeing what you do in 2012!

  9. Thanks for the worksheet. It’s very thorough. I need that. This year I switched from writing for content sites to starting my own sites. I’ve also lost a few pounds, got my house refinanced and told my boss I want fewer hours. My son’s wife died last month and that kind of put of damper on my ability to be as effective as far as my blogs, but I’m ready to start kicking it again for 2012.

    • Thanks for sharing Cathy. Do hope you find a quiet time to fill out the answers. Seems like you had some great accomplishments this year. I just got my house refinanced as well and will be saving a lot of money starting next month! Sorry to hear about your son’s wife. Hope your 2012 starts off strong and continues the whole year!

  10. Nicely said Benny. Your worksheet is great and i’ll put it to work for me. Like you i actually followed through the whole year and made some amazing things happen for me and if it weren’t for goal setting and reviewing they never would have happened. My biggest feat was living semi nomadically with the family and kids and then moving to France for a year.
    I’m glad i had you as a friend because through all of this, you truly have inspired me and kept me in chekc through much of this year.
    Yes you really have. Brother from another mother. 🙂
    Can’t wait to see what you do next year.

    Happy Christmas and New year
    Annie ~

    • I just read your annual review, and enjoyed it. I said a lot in the comment so I’ll keep it short here. I’m certainly thankful for the people I’ve met this year, but you’d be right up there on the list. Let’s both make sure we keep hustling in 2012 okay?

      Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and your family! Your youngest daughter is way too cute. It has to be illegal for her to be that cute.

  11. Hey Benny,

    Being a spreadsheet guy, I’m a bit disappointed seeing a non-fillable PDF. 🙂

    Apart from that, I’m very much looking forward to writing the review!


  12. Sweet worksheet Benny! I went through all my accomplishments at work recently and need to do this for my personal stuff. Awesome work this year btw you really rocked it out! -Sydney

    • Thanks Sydney! Congrats to you as well! Getting the Untemplater gig, traveling to Turkey, and cutting back on TV. I’ve got to make sure to keep up with you in 2012. 🙂

  13. Hi Benny, just discovered your blog today and have read some of your really inspiring posts.
    Like you, my new year resolutions never used to see the first day of February. This year’s wasn’t any different.

    Doing an annual year review would really do a lot of good. It’ll help my resolutions see the light of day.

    • Thank you Lanre! I hope next year you’ll try a different plan so you’ll stick with your resolutions for the whole year. Thanks for your comment!

  14. I just wrote one of these myself, but I slightly disguised it as a how to post since the most meaningful thing to happen to me this year was launching my first product.

    It was a great opportunity to flesh out what went well and what I would do differently next time around – which I plan on doing early next year.

    Highly recommend doing one of these posts, or even if you don’t have a blog, do it anyway!

  15. Wow. Great worksheet! Thanks so much for the post and the reminder that we really do learn from our efforts and can plan and strive for a better future. Printing out the worksheet and putting pen to paper really helped focus on the questions.

    Again, thanks!

  16. perfect blog to stumble across this time of year, i loved your review list. writing your future goals down on paper is an excellent idea and your PDF is brilliant too

  17. Downloading the worksheet atm. Thanks for your tips. I think I will be doing this from now every year’s end.

  18. Hey Benny,
    Congratulations on everything you succeeded on! Wow an app and a wife, what more could you ask for in 2011 huh?
    Until next time, happy holidays!

    • Thanks Ryan! It’s been an exciting year. Maybe if I had a million bucks it would have been sweeter. LOL. Are you doing an annual review?

      • Hey Benny,
        I’d like to do an annual review but I’ve only just started blogging in the last few months! I do have a few projects in mind that I’d like to launch such as e-books and a couple niche sites that are taking up quite a bit of time!
        A million bucks would be wicked sweet to have… but right now I’m just really enjoying the time spent with family this holiday!
        All the best to your wife, you and your family this holiday!

        • Then I look forward to your review a year from now Ryan when you have ten amazing accomplishments to write down. Deal? Happy holidays to you as well. Thanks!

  19. I love the PDF you created. Thanks so much Benny! I’m a very goal oriented person and I enjoy writing down my goals (achieved thus far and ones still in progress) so this is a great assignment.

    I think it’s important to review your life and progress to see where you’ve been, before you can accurately live an epic life in the future.

    • Thanks Carrie. I had never done it until last year and this year I made huge strides. No doubt it helped me. This year my review will be more thorough and be more helpful heading into 2012. Glad you love it!

  20. Hi Benny, what a great post and a great resource, reading through the worksheet makes me excited about doing my own review, thanks so much for sharing! 🙂

  21. Hey Benny that is good for you. Taking stock of our lives is what drives us because if we are able to properly accessed how far we have come, I believe it can propel us to move higher heights later. I do it quite often and it has been beneficial.

    2011 has generally been a good time for some bloggers and I hope it continues. But I can say its has been a massive year for you Benny, a wife, a blog and an ipad app…LOL :d

    • Glad to hear you’ve done a review for awhile. I wish I had started years ago. I’ve seen lots of growth from other bloggers in 2011. I’m really happy for all of them. I hope we all continue to improve in 2012.

      A wife, a blog, and an app are pretty cool for sure. 🙂

      Thanks for your comment Martin!

  22. thanks for the roadmap. i downloaded it. i’ll have a think and can I post my answers on my blog and share with people? I think this would help a lot of people out there to review 🙂
    but one major accomplishment – i stayed alive after a suicide attempt, and through my blogging, finally rediscovered my passion to write, and to write for myself!!!
    i figured i should be proud of myself for at least that 🙂


    • Hi Nooch! Yes if you’d like to write a post about it, that would be great! I’m actually doing my review which should be published Wednesday or Thursday, and I want to link to other people doing the same. I’d love to add yours.

      You should 100% be proud of that. You’re a survivor and have a bright future ahead of you! I’m glad you’ve made huge changes this year.

      • Hi Benny

        Thanks! I’m drafting my post with the review. Will email you the link once it’s up, probably tomorrow. Hope that’s ok
        And I started reading your ebook … 🙂

        Noch Noch

  23. Benny- Writing down future goals and planning for the year is great. I also make copies and put them in areas where I have to look at them. By keeping it in front of you you are always reminded of what to do for the future. Along with that my favorite quote for the next year are
    Fortune Favors the Bold,Take action
    Excuses are the bricks that built the house of failure
    Action speaks louder than words
    Eat the Frog- Do what you hate first and the rest comes easy
    I’m often blown away by people who will spend more time planning their vacation than their future. Hope to meet you one day and share a cup of coffee or tea. Cheers

  24. Hi Benny

    What an amazing year you have had and I’m sure there are many more to come.

    I love annual reviews. It gives you time to reflect on what you have achieved both in your personal and business lift and also helps to set your goals for the coming year.

    Congratulations Benny on everything you have achieved so far.

    • Hi Martha,

      Thanks Martha. I enjoyed doing it this year and reading others. It’s great to learn what went well and what didn’t go well from each other. Great to meet you this year and wish you a happy new year!

  25. Great choice of photo – perfect. So happy for all your success this year, congratulations.

  26. Hi Benny,

    I keep reading your posts even if I am a little bit late.
    I see you had a great year and you accomplished many things that you wanted in your life. Congratulations for that.
    I like your point of view about putting precise goals in our life and try to achieve them. It is an opinion developed by Earl Nightingale in his famous book lead the field and I am 100% aligned with that.
    As I took action and decided to change my life late in 2011, I will definitely use your list in order to write my review for 2011 and plan my 2012 goals.

    “What went well for you and what didn’t in 2011?”

    Well, 2011 was a great year for me and hereafter my main achievements that i want to share with you:
    – I organized a 6-month trip around the world
    – at the beginning of April,
    – I started traveling and everything went perfect. I had no problem at all during this trip and it was an awesome experience for me.
    – I came back in my home country on October and I started working in order to establish an online business
    – I quit my job in Paris and left this city because i didn’t like my life there.

    What went bad:
    – I didn’t manage to find a job in an international company based in Greece
    – I built my first blog but as a beginner I made a mistake in the choice of the online platform

    That is all for the moment. I will continue reading your articles because you help me a lot!

    Thank you!

    • You did some amazing things in 2011! The around the world trip must have been great. That’s something I’ve never done and since I just got married, it’s something I’d like to do with my wife. I read on your blog about Paris. I know most people, including me, thinks Paris is this wonderful city. Visiting and living there is completely different I understand. 🙂

      Thanks for sharing Lenia and happy you’re a part of the community here!

  27. You review sheet is cool. Simple yet useful! I like doing this stuff. Gives me a reflective mood. I started my blog this year with a new address with this post on 3d (“Dream Board”)- hope you don’t mind my sharing – but was so disappointed with the results- I got no response! http://robaminute.com/?p=1242

    • Thanks so much! I don’t mind you sharing. Don’t worry about your result. If you’re not happy with it, then make that motivation to make this year even better, so that next year you’ll have much more to write down! Also, you should change your permalink structure so it shows the title of your posts, instead of numbers. Helps with Google ranking and just looks better. Small change but makes a big difference.

      • Wow! Thanks. It really shows I’m pretty much new into blogging. I noticed that myself and did not even know that’s where I should fix it. Sincerely appreciate that suggestion 😉 More power to you.

  28. Wow, very timely resource. I have been doing yearly and quarterlay plans too and will keep a closer eye on KPIs this year.

  29. I like the free worksheet. Is it ok if i shared it with my friends?

  30. Benny,

    Your efforts just paid off. Congratulations on your successful app. I’m planning to buy one this week.

    Spatch Merlin
    More Web Site Traffic Guide

  31. Brilliant. Thanks a lot for sharing and creating this.

    I actually go through a similar process each year, and I created some templates (based on Chris Guillebeau’s) that help strategically plan out the various goals, across the different categories of life.

    You can check it out here, feel free to share (no opt in, straight download): http://www.armanassadi.com/the-annual-review-setting-yourself-up-for-success

  32. Benny, this was so incredibly helpful. I would love to read your 2017 Year In Review — hoping you will share your insights with us!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

  1. 2011 Year in Review - December 21, 2011

    […] week, I shared a worksheet to help you do an annual review. Thank you for spreading the word about it. I’m happy to hear many of you are filling it […]

  2. My 2011 Annual Review | Life is Limitless - December 21, 2011

    […] with little thought for what I have achieved over the past year. This year, however, I read a great post by Benny Hsu over at Get Busy Living and it inspired me to write my own annual review, using the really helpful template that Benny […]

  3. the year in review 2011 | nochnoch - December 21, 2011

    […] was stumbling through the world wide web one evening, and came across Benny’s article on reviewing the year (Benny is the owner of a very uplifting and inspirational website called Get […]

  4. 2011 Year in Review: Ups, Downs and Everything in Between | Careful Cents - December 23, 2011

    […] from the Get Busy Living Blog posted a worksheet that takes a look back over the past year’s failures and […]

  5. Hookers, Bodyslams, and Eating Cute Little Puppies: 2011 Year in Review | Live Life Boldly - December 23, 2011

    […] I’m also going to answer a lot of the questions Benny has on his worksheet. […]

  6. 2011 Year in Review + Some Changes for 2012 | Grad Meets World - December 27, 2011

    […] in 2011. If you need some help figuring out how 2011 turned out then check out Benny’s  free worksheet. I swear it’s a […]

  7. Review | Pause & Ponder - December 27, 2011

    […] forward in the right direction. Here are great examples of such by…Caleb | Chris | Steve | Benny | […]

  8. 4 Things You Can Do to Be Successful in 2012 | I Would Coach | A Personal Development and Motivational Blog - December 28, 2011

    […] you are having difficulty getting started, check out Benny Hsu’s annual goal review – it’s a well thought out worksheet that will help you get […]

  9. Annual Review Part 1 « Idle Musings - December 29, 2011

    […] Benny from GetBusyLivingBlog.com came up with a convenient worksheet. The idea is fairly self-explanatory:  You review what went well and what didn’t go so well […]

  10. My year in review – 2011 | | Mei YingMei Ying - December 29, 2011

    […] I came across a tweet by David Wang, a fellow twitterer and good friend, with a link about reviewing your past year. […]

  11. State of Me And Takeaways For You - December 30, 2011

    […] did it already, I’d really suggest checking out Benny at Get Busy Living Blog’s [free] Annual Review Worksheet. I was quite happy with it. even adapted/included some of the points into this post. So thanks […]

  12. 2011 in Review - December 30, 2011

    […] your year. I loved it so much I’ve decided to use it and share it here. Go check out the post and download the worksheet to create your own year in […]

  13. 2011: Year in Review » adventures of a blogjunkie - December 31, 2011

    […] reading Benny Hsu’s post about yearly reviews, I realize that one thing missing from mine are goals for next year. They’re important to […]

  14. lamiki » Blog Archive » Imbalance, Burnout & Change: 2011 Year in Review - December 31, 2011

    […] this week, my husband and I spent the evening working through Benny Hsu of Get Busy Living’s 2011 Year in Review Worksheet. What I like about his template is it focuses on how the previous year ended so you can reflect on […]

  15. 10 Greatest Things of 2011 « Failing Forward - January 20, 2012

    […] I’d already finished my new goals for 2012 before I read this post but I liked the questions he asked so much that I did the review anyway- they made me think. […]

  16. Bye bye 2011 | Real Time Release - January 24, 2012

    […] Get Busy Living. Helping and inspiring you to live an epic life […]

  17. Economic Growth’s Not Catching Up In 2012; How About Us? - January 30, 2012

    […] move on. Make your annual review.  It’s not too late.  May I suggest this free resource from  Get Busy Living Blog – an annual review […]

  18. Economic Growth’s Not Catching Up In 2012; How About Us? | Definitely Filipino™ - February 8, 2012

    […] move on. Make your annual review.  It’s not too late.  May I suggest this free resource from  Get Busy Living Blog – an annual review […]

  19. You Must Let the Past Be the Past | The Dreamers Manifesto - April 27, 2012

    […] going to fail – badly. Every time you make a new list of goals, every time you write down your dreams for the year to come, they will work for a time, but eventually, your old programming will kick back in and it will all […]