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You might already be thinking about 2020 and how you’re going to make it a better year than 2019. To do that you must do this one crucial thing otherwise you’re setting yourself up for failure.

You can’t afford to skip this. It’s why we see so many clients fail at accomplishing their goals before they even started. They’ll make the same mistakes, run into the same roadblocks, and quit their goals for the same reasons.

That thing is your annual review.

“How to Conduct Your Own Annual Review”

We have a very detailed blog post on how to conduct your annual review which you can find here. If you’re someone who prefers audio, we also have a podcast episode on this topic where we share our detailed process. Check out one of them (or both) so you know how to do a proper annual review that will set you up for a successful upcoming year.

When you follow our proven process, it might take you an afternoon or two to fully go through it. We recommend everyone do this but we also realize that some of you don’t have the time to do that. If you’ve never done an annual review before it can also be very intimidating.

Luckily for you, there’s a shorter version that you can do that will be effective too. At Asian Efficiency we believe you should be able to get everything done in the time you have. That’s why we created this abbreviated annual review process for you. This will takes about an hour and will give you a taste of how powerful an annual review is.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Block off an hour for this. Put it on your calendar or do it right now.
  2. In your notebook or on a piece of paper, make two columns and write down “Positive” and “Negative”.
  3. Go through your calendar for the whole year, week by week. Write down any appointment, event, dinners, birthdays, meetups and such that had either a very positive or very negative impact on you. Put it in one of the columns. This will take about 30-45 minutes.
  4. Ask yourself these three questions: 1) What went well this year? 2) What didn’t go well this year? 3) What could have gone better? Answer those questions and write them down.
  5. Now that you have everything written down, use these lessons and insights for planning your upcoming year.

About an hour later, you will have conducted your mini annual review.

By using a calendar you minimize the recency bias where we tend to only value and remember what happened to us recently. You’ll also discover that you end up doing a lot more things than you remembered.

writing down your list

Once you have your list, a lot of thoughts will come up. When I first did this, I was amazed at how many positive experiences I had and asked myself how I could recreate them or repeat them. One thing I noticed is that I wanted to spend more time with certain people so I started planning trips and dinners with them for the upcoming year.

The negative column gave me ideas about how to eliminate or minimize the activities I didn’t enjoy. The big idea is simple: addition by subtraction. By removing the negative events from my life for the upcoming year, I would enjoy life more. So I stopped hanging out with certain people, stopped going to specific conferences and declined invites to certain things. By getting clear on that it was easy to say no to certain things or people, and looking back I’m glad I did that.

The last three questions are powerful to ask once you’ve reviewed your calendar. They give you insights that you can use to form your plan for next year. Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of the questions. Ask yourself these three questions, write down whatever comes to mind, and be amazed at how much you will learn about yourself.

After you’ve done all that (that shouldn’t take more than an hour), you’ll be well equipped to plan your next year. Now you have ammo that you can use to set yourself up for a happier, more productive and fulfilling life.

This one-hour investment could change your life for a whole year and the rest of your life. Don’t skip it. Do it ASAP. Then when you’re ready for more, be sure to subscribe to our productivity newsletter:

To an Asian Efficient 2020!

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Thanh Pham

Founder of Asian Efficiency where we help people become more productive at work and in life. I've been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, and The Globe & Mail as a productivity thought leader. At AE I'm responsible for leading teams and executing our vision to assist people all over the world live their best life possible.

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