The 10 question annual review – 2019 edition

The 10 question annual review is an end-of-year ALearningaDay tradition. Here’s how it works in 3 steps –

1. We carve an hour out over the next few days to “look back and look forward.” If we have past versions of the annual review, a recommended approach is to start the hour with a quick skim of past versions.

2. We work with 10 questions – with a suggested split of 4-6 between looking back and looking forward. 10 questions helps ensure we get to the depth required for insight while ensuring it doesn’t feel daunting. In case it helps, I have shared the 10 questions I use below and have a Google doc version if you’d like to download, edit, or print.

3. We archive our notes for next year – if we write out answers to the 10 questions, then we keep the sheets in a place we will be able to access next year. If we type it, we just need to make sure it is stored on Dropbox/G Drive or some place it will never get lost.

This annual review hour is one of my favorite parts of the year. I have annual reviews with responses to a version of these 10 questions from 2010 and looking back is an exercise that inspires humility, gratitude, and many a broad grin.

And, of course, doing this can be even more fun if you decide to share some of your notes with folks you care about/those who featured in your review.

I hope you’re able to try it this year and I look forward to hearing how it goes.

2019 Edition Release notes:

    1. Minor changes – a focus on 2: One of the subtle changes this year is a focus on asking for a maximum of 2 examples/priorities vs. 3 in most questions. This is part of an ongoing shift in focusing deeper and better on fewer things. It added more clarity in my review.
    2. Major changes – replacing 2 questions: I’ve rarely made changes to questions in the past decade. So, replacing 2 questions relative to the 2018 edition counted among major changes. Again, the impetus was to create more focus.

Part I – Look back
1. The Theme or peak moment – one word/line descriptions:
a) 2019 was the year of
b) 2020 will be the year of

Runners Up Theme or peak moment
a) 2019 was also the year of
b) 2020 will also be the year of

2. What were my 2 greatest successes/memories from 2019?

3. What were my 2 biggest lessons learnt from 2019?

4. Looking back, what were the top 2 factors I optimized for in my life and career in 2019? Did I optimize for the same things I will measure my life with? (Examples of what I optimized for could be money, learning, family, title, impact on company, fame, etc.)

Part II – Look forward
5. What are 1-2 themes I am thinking about for 2020? Are there any “process goals” (again, 1 or 2) I want to commit to?

6. What 1-2 skills do I want to develop in 2020 (professional and personal)? What actions am I going to take to develop them?

7. Who/what were my top 2 sources of inspiration and learning in 2019? How do I plan to engage with them in 2020?

8. Who are 2 people I’d like to stay in better touch with in 2020?

9. What have I got planned in 2020 to prioritize rest and renewal (e.g. holiday plans, weekend activities, hobbies)?

10. What are the 1-3 most important core values or principles that form my personal culture? Will these change in 2020?