I have been doing a personal year-end review for several years. Over the years it has evolved as I come upon new reflection questions often from devotionals or Bible studies. Setting aside some intentional time to reflect and refocus has helped me celebrate the work God has been doing in and around me. This has also helped realign my priorities if they’ve gotten off track.
This desire to reflect and remember is not something that comes naturally to me. I’m typically ready to start into a new year, a new clean page of my calendar. This year as I read through the Old Testament, I really started to identify with the Israelites moving forward on their journey that they forgot to remember God’s faithfulness. I tend to quickly move to the next thing without pausing very long to gain insights, grieve losses, or celebrate.
This is why Joshua created “stones of remembrance”. “But Joshua’s stones of remembrance are just one monument in a series of memorials commemorating the mighty acts of God on behalf of the people of Israel (Exodus 13:3–6; 24:4; Deuteronomy 27:1–8; Joshua 22:9–12; 24:24–28; 1 Samuel 7:12). To everyone else, the stones were just a heap of rubble, but to the people of God, they were a constant reminder that Yahweh was a personal and powerful God, working wonders on behalf of His people.”
My year-end review is my own “stones of remembrance”. Whether it is in a written journal or a digital document, the end result is simply a way to remember of all the wonders God has been working in and around me. It’s something that helps me prepare my heart as I turn the calendar pages to another year.
What you want to remember may be different than what I want to remember. Sometimes the questions I choose looks a little different each year. For example, I was convicted a couple of years ago when I did the study “Everyday Theology” by Mary Wiley. One of the questions read like this:
“In 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul listed four ways God’s Word is useful: for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. How does Scripture accomplish this work in your life?”
I struggled to recall and didn’t have very good systems in place to help me remember. So now when I finish a Bible study, sermon series, or anything where I am in Scripture – I try to record notes on how Scripture has taught, rebuked corrected, or trained me in righteousness.
This year I did the study “The Gospel-Centered Life” by Thune and Walker and I am adding this self-assessment to my annual review. This is a practical exercise to see if you have tendencies to see yourself as an orphan or child of God.
Tips for your Year-End Review
- Schedule it: Schedule time on your calendar. For some it may take longer or shorter amount of time, but schedule about a day to do your review. You may do this over a few days or you might block off an entire day.
- Find a place: Go somewhere where you will have limited distractions. This process requires some time to think and process without constant interruptions. I have friends that even book a night at a hotel and make it like a retreat.
- What you will need: I personally like typing my review in a word document and saving digitally. But you may prefer to write it out. It’s also helpful to have your phone or calendar for the year to look at your photos or what you had scheduled this past year.
Use the below prompts and reflection questions to begin compiling!
- What worked: What worked in the last year?
- What did not work: What didn’t work in the last year? Challenges?
- What I learned: What did I learn?
- Tough questions from this year (doing Bible study in community is great for this – there will sometimes be questions that come up in the group that I can’t immediately answer without research. I’ll try to record those questions here.)
- A.C.T.S prayer (I use the ACTS prayer model as a weekly way to focus in my prayer journal – and I have spontaneous and everyday moments of prayer but this has worked for me)
- A: Attributes of God: (sometimes this is referred to as adoration) I like to list all the ways I saw God’s character throughout the year.
- C: Confession: Confessions/sins/battles this year. Reviewing this has been a way to continue to praise God for his mercy!
- T: Thanksgiving: gratitude. Especially include people you are grateful for (you might consider sending them a card telling them why you are grateful)
- S: Supplication: Things I prayed for
- Prayers answered
- Regular things I listened to: (podcasts, sermons, books, radio, music, etc)
- Books read this year
- Books of the Bible read this year
- Where did I travel
- People and places I served this year
- Places and people I give to financially
- What does rest look like for me?
- List your values/priorities
- Discipleship: Who is investing in you? Who are you investing in?
- How did I use my time this year (did you steward your time well? Glance through your calendar and see where you spent your time)
- Describe how you want to be known when you are 80 years old I used write my eulogy but my husband thought that was a little morbid. The point is – what will have mattered and not have mattered in the end?
- 2 Timothy 3:16, Paul listed four ways God’s Word is useful: for teaching, rebuking, correcting, and training in righteousness. How does Scripture accomplish this work in your life?” (Mary Wiley, Everyday Theology)
- In what ways do I need to grow from thinking and living as an orphan to a child of God?
- Evaluate where you are now: There are many ways you can go about this, but give each area of your life a rating between 1 and 10. 1 means you want to see big change. 10 means things couldn’t be better. Then highlight the three areas you most want to grow in 2023. This is also a helpful assessment evaluating similar categories by FullFocus.
- Spiritual + Personal Growth
- A resource I love is Jennie Allen’s “Dream Guide” where she takes many of the questions above and puts them into 4 simple categories. You could use this as a template to begin to refocus for the next year.
- Spiritual: alone time | time with God | church | serve | tithe | outreach | ministry | discipleship
- Relational: friendships | marriage | kids | extended family | neighbors | coworkers | community
- Personal: food | exercise | health | books to read | what to learn | memories to make
- Work: finances | personal growth | education | projects
- Word of the Year: Write down any words that resonates with you for the year ahead. What one word summarizes how you want to live in 2023?
- These questions from Melissa Kruger is also a great resource to use to refocus.
- Bible reading: How do you plan to study the Bible this year? What study guide or reading plan will you use?
- Bible Memory: What verses would you like to commit to memory this year? Is there a friend or family member who could memorize with you?
- Prayer: How can you set aside time for prayer each day? When is the best time for you to pray? How can you incorporate Scripture more into your prayer life? What keeps you from prayer? Who can you pray for specifically this year to come to faith?
- Fighting Sin: What sin are you currently struggling with on a regular basis? What methods (prayer, confession, accountability) can you empty to help you fight sin in your life?
- How would you describe your affection toward God (warm, vibrant, joyful, cold, indifferent, disappointed, angry)? What ways can you seek to foster a greater affection for God in the New Year?
- Ministry: Who can you seek to share the gospel with this year? How can you use your gifts to serve your church? Who could you disciple in the faith this year? In what ways can you be a loving neighbor in your community?
- Other areas to consider: Is there someone you need to spend more time with in the coming year? or perhaps, someone you need to spend less time with? How would you describe your social media use? Is it keeping you from face-to-face relationships, fostering discontentment, or eating away time that could be spent on other things? Is your giving (time, money, service) generous? Is is sacrificial? Is it cheerful?
Do you do a year-end review? What questions or resources would you add to this list? I would love to hear!