I love goals. Perhaps it started by running around with a miniature notebook and a stockpile of colored pencils instead of going to preschool, either way I’ve loved goals and challenges, and lists of epic proportions ever since I can remember. So as my annual “end of the year musing and scheming” arrives this week, I’m excited to take a day or two and reflect on 2014 before I get carried away with planning for 2015.

Since I’ve been asked for a bit of the process behind my personal planning, I’ve shared an example of my Yearly Planning spreadsheet – freshly updated for 2015!

Download the Goal Setting Template:

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Yearly goals template

After opening this Google Spreadsheet you can select File>Make a copy to use the template for your own goals. Or download it as an Excel spreadsheet to use in Excel or Open Office).

Tips for doing an Annual Personal Review:

1. Make it an event!
For the last few years, I’ve combined my annual goal setting time with a last minute close-to-home post-Christmas getaway. However you decide to do it, set aside a few hours, get out of your usual space and routine and get thinking.

2. Recap the year
To start, I like to ask myself a few questions. 1. What went great this year?  Look at last year’s goals to remind yourself, your calendar, Facebook – whatever is going to jog your memory. My list includes all kinds of things – like big goals (started freelancing!), some stats (ran 320+ miles), more vague things (got healthier). 2. What didn’t I accomplish this year, that I had wanted to? The point of this step isn’t to be hard on yourself. Consider what didn’t happen, think about why it didn’t happen (because you didn’t focus on it? because you tried and failed? because you changed your mind about wanting it?), and then move on. (Example: my list included – I didn’t blog as frequently as I wanted to, and I didn’t start a book club etc) 3. What do I want to happen 2015? What do you want to be celebrating next year at this time?

3. Accountability
I like the idea of posting all of my goals for the world to see for accountability, but some are also personal, so while I’ll mention a few here on my blog, I keep a Google Doc with all my goals. Whatever your system is, share it with someone (start with your BFF!)

4. The BIG picture
Some of my yearly goals tie into other lists (like in the past, my 30 Before 30 list, some were new goals, bigger goals, smaller goals, BHAGs (big hairy audacious goal, etc.

After reading The Desire Map by Danielle LaPorte, I’ve added in thinking about how I want to feel (she calls them core desired feelings). And not just how you want to feel, but what you can do in specific areas of your life to get those 3-5 “core” feelings that drive you. It sounds a little hokey, but adding this in definitely gets you thinking up more ideas of what you really want for the year, versus just writing down ambitious goals that seem like what you should do.

5. Pick a theme
I’ve seen some people have a theme for their year or a one word description, which I’ve done some years. Other years, I’ve selected a quote. 2011 was “Let the beauty of what you love be what you do” — Rumi. This quote really covered the different areas of my life from work to personal to fitness, and I added it to my chalkboard inspiration stripe in my home to remind myself all year.

6. Categorize!
I like to break out my goals into broad categories. In previous years, I’ve done really specific categories (eg. job, fitness, learning, money, family, blog etc). Then, the last few years I went a little wider with the general themes of: Health (Fitness/Service/Spiritual), Wealth (Job/Income/Blog/Financial), Happiness (Travel/Local/Home/Relationships/Learning). This year, I’ve expanded on “Health, Wealth, and Happiness”, by including a few more memory jogging categories to inspire ideas.

Wealth: Livelihood & Lifestyle – career, fashion, home, influence, money, possessions, resources, style etc.
Health: Body, Wellness, & Spirituality – fitness, food, mental health, relaxation, self-care, sensuality, soul, spirituality etc.
Happiness: Creativity, Home, Learning, Local, Relationships, Service, & Travel – art, causes, community, education, family, friendship, gifts, hobbies, home life, music, romance, travel, volunteering etc.

7. What by when?
Just like typical goals, I try to follow the GTD method to my year-end personal planning. I will… {do what?} {by when} and the {next action step} is. With a  {monthly/quarterly review area} and {final review}.

Example: I will put $5,500 in my IRA for 2015 contribution by April 15 (tax time). Next step: Transfer money from my savings account to my IRA account.

A more fun example: I will list my condo on HomeAway or AirBnB by June 1. Next step: Look at current studio listings in Portland for ideas.

An even more fun example: I will take a cooking class in 2015. Next step: Look at class options and schedule at Sur la Table.

While I used to only do a quarterly review of where I’m at on my goals, I found that it was way too easy to have three months go by and forget about my “priorities”. So now I jump into Google Calendar (my calendar app of choice), and set a recurring calendar appointment for the last Sunday of every month. This way, I actually look at my goals on a monthly basis and can gauge where I’m at or if my goal needs readjusting.

Happy planning and I wish you a marvelous new year!

Part 1 – Yearly Goal Setting Template
Part 2 – 2014 in Review: Pictures & Goals
Part 3 – My 2015 Goals

This post was originally a three part series back in 2011, and has been updated for 2015.

Do you do an “annual review” of your personal life?