How to do an end of year review

+ Free worksheet +

This time of year is always a bit of a frenzy! There are parties to attend, friends to catch up with, presents to buy, projects to finalize. So why add another thing to your list? Why bother with an end of year review?

Why do an annual review?

I don’t know about you, but I definitely don’t find Christmas to be a relaxing time. By the time I get back to my desk in January, I feel like I need another holiday. But I find that taking time, at the end of December, to look back at the past 12 months I am able to start the next year with the drive to get moving forward in the right direction from the first day back.

In this article, I’m giving you lists of questions to ask yourself (there’s also a free worksheet download) which will help you recover from any of the more crappy things that happened this year and set yourself up for a successful new year. You can do this alone with a cuppa’ or glass of wine, or as part of a mastermind group, or a Skype call with a peer or mentor… whatever works for you!

Download your worksheet here (no signup required)

No need to sign up, just click here to download your worksheet and get started right away.

Create your lists

Feel the fear

Yeah, I’m starting with the bad stuff. Let me explain. When mistakes happen or projects fail in my business, I get that horrible, stomach-churning-cringe feeling. It’s hard to look at mistakes and failures. BUT, by looking at them, we can figure out what went wrong and get closure. Learn a lesson, and do better next time.

  • What were your biggest flops this year?
  • Did you invest in something that didn’t show any return?
  • Were you totally stressed out by something or someone?

List all the crap and consider what you could have done differently.

When you’ve listed the fails and considered what lessons can be learned, LET GO of the bad vibes associated with these things. That stuff is in the past and holding on to it is holding you back. Breathe in… breathe out. What’s next?

The day-to-day

Take a look at your ongoing work. List all the things that you do repeatedly (every day, every week, every month).

  • What takes up more time than it should?
  • What tasks suck the life out of you?
  • Is there anything in this list that you can outsource? Get some help with? Or straight-up remove?

Personally, my review this year revealed that I was wasting SO much time scheduling appointments and chasing invoices. So, I’ve set up an online calendar and payment gateway, so that all that stuff is automated from now on. I get alerts when a new appointment is made and payment is processed. All I need to do is consult one file (instead of 20!) to track my schedule and accounts. With 2 kids and a short working day, freeing up hours of admin is essential.

Look at your list. What can you do to streamline your day-to-day?

Self-high-five time


No review would be complete without looking at your successes. Sometimes we beat ourselves up about bad stuff and that can overshadow our wins. I bet you did some brilliant stuff this year when you think about it.

  • What was the greatest achievement of the past year and why do you consider to be the greatest achievement?
  • What did you enjoy most this year?
  • What new relationships or partnerships grew or developed and what made these worthwhile?

And if, over the Christmas holidays, somebody asks you, “How was your year?” tell them something from this list. The more you talk about your successes, the more you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment. Blow your own trumpet. Go on! Toot, toot!

Data, meep-meep


Here comes the science bit, concentrate…

How can you analyse the successes and failures? Do you have data you can consult?

  • Did your website traffic and conversions go up or down?
  • Did your subscriber list or client list grow or shrink?
  • Did your profits increase or decrease?

Check Google Analytics, look at your invoices, read customer reviews.

Checking up on the actual facts and figures can reveal a lot. You may find another win in there or maybe you’ll see that you need to pay attention to something that was being neglected.

And how are you?

When we work for ourselves we can become obsessed with subscribers, invoices, website traffic etc., but it’s important also to measure your stress levels. (I kinda’ realised this the hard way).

  • Do you feel stressed more often than not?
  • Do you take time out for yourself?
  • Do you finally feel that you have stepped up your game and ditched the imposter syndrome?

If stress is an ever-present aspect of your day, please, focus hard on these questions.

  • What is causing the biggest stress for you?
  • How can you work through it? Who can you talk to about it?
  • Is there something you can do or stop doing that will make things better?

We’re here for a good time, not a long time, friend. If stress is weighing you down, it has to be your priority to reduce it.

Take a few minutes. Look back over your lists. What stands out to you? Are there things jumping off the page at you? Ask yourself, What worked? What did not work?  What can be improved? Am I stressed out? Reviewing all this information will get you ready to plan for next year.

Soul searchin’!

via GIPHY We’ve listed, studied and analysed the past year. But, before we start planning your next 12 months let’s look at the heart and soul of your business.

What is your why?

What statement defines your business?

  • Why do you do what you do and how does it impact others?
  • Do you still see yourself doing it 20 years from now?

Scary questions eh? But honestly, they’re important. If you’re working your bum off to build your business, what is the end point? For example my why is: Claire Creative exists to help people explore ideas, develop them into concepts, strategies and experiences.

And your mission?

What is your personal statement for this year?  Before we get specific about goals, what is your overall mission? For me its: I want my clients to enjoy the experience of getting online and avoid being overwhelmed. I will create tools and provide services that make this happen.

What do your clients need?

Who are you working for? If you figure who your client is and what they need from you, you’ll be able to refine your business so that you’re offering something that people want. Do the services you provide reflect their needs? For me: I work with people who are self-employed. They want to take control of their own websites, rather than paying designers and developers to do it for them. They want to use the internet to generate business. But they don’t know where to start, what tools to use and don’t have time to learn it all alone. I can teach them how to build their site, use free and cheap online tools to help get found and grow their online reputation.

Back to the future, Marty!

Time to set some goals for next year and break them down so that they don’t seem so scary! Doing this will ensure that you’re always moving forward and not getting overwhelmed.

  • What do you want to achieve by this time next year? (be as specific as possible)
  • What can you do in the next 6 months to work towards your goal?
  • Now break it down further. Set a deadline in your calendar for a sub-goal in the next 3 months.

It’s really important to work backwards from your goals. Your 12-month goal may seem enormous at the beginning of the year but if you break it down you’re setting yourself up for success!

Question overload?

I honestly don’t think I’ve ever used so many question marks before. I know this is a pretty full-on list of lists, but each question is important. I hope this helps you to get your head around the past year and get ready for next year.  If you fancy getting more articles and resources like this, sign up for my mailing list here: Claire Creative’s Mailing List

Ready to get started?

Click the button to download your worksheet.

Try to work through it in one sitting and keep it safe so you can refer back to it in a few months time to be sure you’re still on track.

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