With two days left before 2019 closes and a new decade begins, I’ve been working on my year-end assessment. The year-end assessment helps me to identify areas in my life that need changing. It also helps to point the direction for plans and aspirations in 2020 and beyond.
The year-end assessment provides an ideal time to reflect on the 2019 aspirations, plans, and goals. This practise promotes a review of key events and an evaluation of what went well. The year-end assessment also forces a critical look at failures, regrets, and incomplete plans.
Personal accomplishments come in many forms. When assessing what happened in the past year, it’s easy to overlook unplanned achievements that may have happened in areas of life you did not plan for nor expect.
When I think about achievements and successes, I think about both big and small accomplishments that give satisfaction to my life. I made a keynote presentation at a dinner in June, something I haven’t done in years. A national marketing magazine (Costco Connections) found my blog and, after interviewing me and reading several posts, is featuring postworksavvy in its January issue. I read 47 books and discussed a good many of these at my three book clubs. I stayed with my exercise program throughout the year. I took bridge lessons where I learned new conventions and realized that the game is fun and challenging! I made changes to our investments that meant taking more control over financial outcomes for our family.
The year-end assessment makes me think of my relationships with important people in my life. When my husband had to stop driving because of long braces on both legs, I became the family chauffeur. This means we drive together every day and have long conversations in the car. I continued the weekly ‘dates’ with our granddaughter where I pick her up from school and we have a special activity together. Weekly family dinners meant lots of cooking accompanied by the pleasure of sharing meals with people I love. The summer brought guests to the cottage for friendship renewals and relaxed weekends.
Assessing accomplishments makes me realize how much went well in my life and the many things for which I am thankful. I think about life changes, new habits, new relationships and key events. To remind me of what I accomplished, I’ve reviewed journal entries and smiled at some of the small wins — like nurturing my gardening soul and planting a few herbs to flavour summer salads!
I also think about what I’ve learned (yes, everyone keeps learning — even in the 7th decade of life). There were big lessons and little lessons. I ask myself questions such as: what did I create? what good did I do for my family? did I contribute something to make the world a better place? what changes stand out? did I seek constantly to improve myself? did I work through difficult challenges?
What didn’t work?
Unfortunately, there are always shortcomings and regrets. Life isn’t perfect. Identifying areas of failure provides insight into areas of life that require changes.
I did not succeed at several aspirations on my 2019 list. Most relate to writing. The truth is that I did not spend enough time in front of a computer. Sitting down is the hardest part of writing. Blog posts were less frequent than planned. Aspirations for progress with memoir stories were unmet.
There were other disappointments, missteps, and things that did not go well. By mid-year, I knew that I did not have time for the adult education courses that I planned to take. My word of the year was ‘timely’ but, on many occasions, I fell short of my goal for arriving on time for events and activities. I did not leave a day every week with no scheduled activities; thus, I always felt too ‘busy’; often it was self-care that suffered!
The year-end assessment naturally leads to thoughts about the future. How can I improve? What concrete steps must I take to make sure that I don’t repeat mistakes? What kept me from spending time on writing projects? Where do I waste time? How do I make time for writing? How do I allow enough driving time to arrive 5 minutes before a scheduled event?
Looking forward also means building on accomplishments and achievements. These provide the grist for on-going happiness. Many involve habits, such as regular exercise, that are part of my life — habits that I will maintain.
There are many intentions for how I will use the 366 days of 2020. ‘Determination’ is my word for the year. I’m determined to live each day in a happy positive frame of mind. I’m determined to re-focus on aspirations and goals that contribute to happiness. This doesn’t mean a long list of goals or resolutions. It simply involves using what I’ve learned from my year-end assessment to make a few changes and tweaks such as making time for writing. I’ll endeavour to do this without compromising time with my husband or weekly family time.
As a new year and a new decade begin, there is an opportunity for a reset. January offers a clean slate. The results of my year-end assessment will kick-start changes with routines to keep me living a retirement that is fun and fulfilling.
I’ll close by wishing every reader a Happy New Year. May this be the year — and the decade– when all your impossible dreams come true!