2013: A Year in Review, Starting with What Went Well

Jim Collins discussed building momentum in his book, Good to Great, where he shares how the great businesses reached their success stories. For me, building momentum is key to shifting every area of my life from “good” to “great”. Therefore, year after year, I invest time to reflect on the past year, dream about the future, and set goals for the next year that will build the momentum necessary to make my dreams become reality.

In this post, I will share with you the first two steps of this 3-step process. Ex-military types may recognize this format as something similar to an After Action Review. That’s because this is exactly what I do, except I am reviewing an entire year as if it were a mission.

I like to spend a few hours at the end of the year to reflect on how things went. 

In years past, I would dust off the journal where I wrote my goals. I now use Evernote so that my Mission statement, Vision, and 5-Year Plan are always available wherever I am through web access or my phone. This was my greatest adjustment in 2013 in regards to my goals, because I was able to check them regularly. The notebook in Evernote is titled “Action Steps”.


  • I review each goal for the year and place a check mark if it was completed. This is a simple Yes or No activity. A checkbox on Evernote leaves little room for a story. I then take a moment to soak in the feelings of achievement by being able to check off the boxes that I did.
  • While checking off boxes, I may realize there were achievements that I had not planned on doing, but they came up. These surprise achievements would also be added to the list. While this might seem like cheating, I only add them to the list if they are in keeping with my overall vision, 5-year plan, or were essential in achieving my goals for the current year. Plus, it feels good to have extra checks, at least for me it does.
  • Now, I look at the stuff that does not have check marks. Before I have a chance to beat myself up or come up with excuses on why items did not receive a check mark, I quickly make notes on what was accomplished. The important part of this entire process is that I stay focused on what was completed, and soak in the feelings of achievement.


  • List challenges that were not expected, and how did those impact the bottom line of achieving my goals.
  • What prevented me from achieving the goals that were not completed? Some things are simply out of my control, a lot is within my control.
  • Are there any goals that were on the list at the beginning of the year that I discovered were not worth pursuing? This is important to consider. If we are writing goals on our list but truly do not have the heart to see those goals completed, then we need to consider where the disconnect is located. Either the goal is not important to our success, or our success is not important to us.
  • This is meant to be a fact-based assessment, so I do my best to avoid the pity-party. It’s easier to achieve my goals when I’m honest about them and positive. Something negative like a self-imposed guilt trip will only succeed in demotivation.


Sometimes, there may be forward progress in an area where we might have initially seen failure. In these cases, a simple adjustment to deadlines may be all that’s needed.

I already know that I will not have met my fitness goal for 2013 to lose enough weight to reach 165 pounds and a 32″ or 33″ waist. I also know that I started at 235 pounds, and have lost about 55 pounds. My waist size started at 43″ and is now at 35″! That is great forward progress. I also achieved the life change I had hoped, which was eating healthier and exercising regularly.

This information will be taken into account when I am ready to make my plans for 2014. Right now, I’m only concerned with feeling positive about the momentum I am building.

There you have it. The first two steps of my 3-step process are really an inventory of how the year went in relation to my written goals.


  • Set at least 2 hours to go through this activity, the first two steps.
  • Choose a setting where you can be alone.
  • When you get to that setting, make sure you’re not distracted by computers, phone calls, email, text messaging, carrier pigeons, etc.
  • This time is about taking care of you so that you can continue to take care of others.

There are things in life we cannot control, such as how much time we have in this world. However, there are also things in life that we speak into existence by first writing out our goals and visiting them on a regular basis.

Let me know in the comments how this article helped you, what you do every year about your own goals, and is there anything you want to know about my process.


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