After closing out 2017, I’d like to share a tool I’ve used the past few years. It’s an Annual Personal Review template pulled from a few resources and catered to those in creative fields. However, anyone can use this¹. In general, if you’re someone who often doesn’t think you’re accomplishing enough, quickly enough, this is for you.
This activity has surprised me in various ways, but especially in combatting imposter syndrome. While improvements in numerically measurable activities like weightlifting are easy to track, it’s hard to find a corresponding scale for soft skills like design or management abilities. I often felt stuck in time, like I wasn’t learning or doing enough. Putting progress on paper provides proof those feelings are unfounded.
Certainly, there are other benefits and ways to use this as well, but that’s up to you. I’m not giving you instructions. I hope to let it breathe and have you take it wherever it leads. Just don’t turn this into a chore. It can be hard fun to reflect on yourself, but it probably shouldn’t be painful. It would be nice to see you back next year, you know? I like to spend a total of maybe 5-10 hours over a few weeks, but some of my friends have done this in 2-4 hours.
I will mention that my favorite section is the Highlights, where you write down your top 10 moments of the year. It sounds silly, but in a world of social, it feels rebellious to acknowledge your own happiness in a private document without external validation². When things are going well in our lives, everything appears as it should be. Ironically, that makes us less cognizant of it.
I’m not a therapist or a mental health expert. I’m just a designer who believes in open source, with a drive to build more things like this: shareable, useful, and iterative. If you end up doing one for yourself, feel free to shoot any feedback or ideas. Eventually, I’d like to turn this more into an application to make these benefits more accessible.
Holler at me,
1. In fact, I need your feedback to make better templates for you in the future. Many of the questions are geared toward creative projects, but you can probably see how they apply to general life admin, relationships, etc.
2. This isn’t a knock on the Instagram “Best 9” meme, but I guarantee so many of your favorite moments were not photographed.
3. In fact, if you already do a version of this for yourself, I’d love to check it out. Let’s chat!
I’d like to give major praise to the tangible resources that influenced me to produce a template for people. This template is modeled after frameworks and concepts by Phoebe Lovatt, James Clear, and BASIC Agency.
- “MAKE IT WORK 2017” – Goal setting guide from The WW Club by Phoebe Lovatt
- Year in Review – BASIC Agency https://yir.basicagency.com/
- Annual Reviews – Published self-reviews from James Clear, an author who writes a popular newsletter on habits. https://jamesclear.com/annual-review
I’d also like to thank my people who I discussed this with at length: Alyzeh, Lexi, Max, Kimberly, and Chris.
Writing personal reviews is nothing new, and I’m certainly not inventing anything, but some people may find it easier to fill in a template than to create their own questions from scratch. My goal here is simply to decrease the barrier of entry for you as much as possible.