The Power of a Year-End Assessment

A year-end assessment can jump-start the new year. December is a natural time to reflect as holiday traditions bring a host memories. During the rush of holiday preparations, taking a moment to reminisce and think about the activities and experiences of the past months is valuable for providing closure. It’s a time take stock of achievements and disappointments.

Year-end Assessment -- photo courtesy of Clay Banks on Unsplash
Year-end Assessment — photo courtesy of Clay Banks on Unsplash

A year-end assessment sets the stage for resolutions, goals, and aspirations. For most people, happiness comes from action and purpose.  It comes from doing things that mean something.  The year-end assessment is a good time to evaluate experiences that provided growth and fulfillment.

Here are some considerations for the year-end assessment:  Are there unanticipated obstacles or challenges? Are you making new connections that inspire?  Are you cultivating new habits?

Goals and aspirations set last January may be stale, abandoned, or inappropriate. You can review what happened without beating yourself up for those things that were not accomplished. There are lessons to be had by looking back on failure.

December is the time of year when I allow myself to look at journal entries through the past year.  Because I write in my journal regularly — almost daily — it provides a record of thoughts, feelings, accomplishments and struggles. I look for family events, shifts in relationships, comments on activities, and achievements.  I also look for disappointments, challenges and barriers.

Failure is a great teacher but I try to focus on what has gone right as it’s too easy to go down the rabbit hole of shortcomings and beat myself up for what I didn’t achieve. After all, it’s easier to take a step toward something rather than a step away.

Sometimes choosing categories for a year-end assessment works.  Assessing areas such as health (physical health, mental health and spiritual health), financial well-being, intellectual growth, social relationships, community involvement, etc. provides a structure. Constructing a happiness barometer to map the categories provides visual cues to follow. A chronological approach with a month-by-month review of key events from your calendar or iPhone can be useful.

December is also a time to take stock of your retirement. I’m reminded of Gretchen Rubin’s famous line ‘the days are long — the years are short’. It’s easy to let months and years of retirement pass without notice or direction. Taking some time to review accomplishments and draw conclusions about what adds — or takes away from — life satisfaction and happiness during retirement is valuable in the year-end assessment.  With personal control over time now that work has ended, how are you spending your days? Are you enjoying the freedom from work? Are you maintaining your health? Are social relationships enhancing your leisure time? Do you participate in rewarding hobbies?

Whether you resist the practice of making New Year’s resolutions or embrace resolutions as a great strategy for making life changes, the year-end assessment provides a roadmap to make conscientious decisions about how you will spend precious time, resources, and energy in the coming months.

Thanks for reading my post.  I’m interested in hearing readers’ experiences with year-end assessments in your comments.

4 Replies to “The Power of a Year-End Assessment”

  1. Some great food for thought ! As I just turned 67 I realize that remaining relevant and doing things is really important to happiness and health. I have been examining in my mind my happy times and what was going on. Activities can change and the reward or positive feeling remain intact. I think we really need to keep moving forward and reinventing .

    1. When we keep challenging ourselves, life remains exciting. There is nothing worse than getting into a retirement rut. The golden g’s of golf, gardening and grandkids can only amuse some of the time!
      Best wishes for a happy and healthy new year!

  2. This is a great idea! I haven’t done a year-end assessment in quite a while. Since I moved back to a major metropolitan area two years ago, my life has been hectic at times and I have not stopped to take stock of accomplishments and issue. I will do that now. Thank you!

    1. Moving does take its toll. It’s two and a half years since we moved and, yes, it’s been a hectic time in my life. Good luck with a year-end assessment. Methinks it will set the stage for excellent plans for the new year!

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