What is a Year-End Retrospective & How To Do Your Life's Yearly Recap

by Sarah Bedrick

Welcome to a journey of self-discovery and growth as we delve into the art of the year-end retrospective.

In this blog post, we'll explore what a year-end retrospective is, why it's a powerful tool for personal development, and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to conduct one for your life.

Get ready to reflect, grow, and plan your path to a more intentional and fulfilling year in 2024.

Understanding the Year-End Retrospective

Let's start with the basics.

What exactly is a year-end retrospective?

It's more than just reminiscing about the past year; it's a structured and intentional review process that allows you to gain insights, celebrate achievements, and identify areas for improvement.

Reflecting at the end of the year is like taking stock of what has passed, allowing you to understand, appreciate, and learn from your experiences.

Why Complete a Year-End Review?

Reflecting at the end of the year is your opportunity for introspection, learning, and growth.

Think about it, you've just spent the last 365 days living life. You've had a lot of highs, lows, and learning moments in-between and without stopping to reflect on it all, you're not putting your life's experience to work for you.

It's your chance to close one chapter and begin another with newfound wisdom and clarity.

Here are the benefits I've found from my own experience doing annual reviews for 10 years, as well as doing them with my clients:

  • Increased Self-Awareness: It fosters self-awareness by allowing you to look back and recognize your emotions, reactions, and patterns throughout the year. This awareness can lead to personal growth and better decision-making.
  • Learning from Mistakes: Reflecting helps you understand your mistakes and missteps. It's a chance to analyze what went wrong, what could have been done differently, and how to avoid similar situations in the future (ahem, this is all about breaking your subconscious patterning).
  • Goal Review: It allows you to review the goals you set at the beginning of the year. You can assess what you've accomplished, what you didn't, and why. This reflection informs better goal setting for the upcoming year.
  • Increased Personal Growth: Reflection helps you assess your personal growth, acknowledging achievements and understanding areas where you might have fallen short. It offers an opportunity to celebrate successes and learn from challenges.
  • Deep Gratitude & Appreciation: It encourages gratitude by focusing on the positive aspects of the year. It helps in acknowledging the good things that happened, the people who were there for you, and the opportunities that came your way.
  • Better Planning and Preparation: Reflection provides insights into what worked and what didn't. This knowledge is invaluable when it comes to planning for the next year, helping you make informed decisions and setting juicy, and realistic expectations.

The Components of a Successful Year-End Retrospective

Proper Set & Setting

Discover the optimal environment for your retrospective.

Whether it's a quiet space at home or a cozy corner in your favorite café, creating the right atmosphere is crucial for a productive reflection session.

Get Into the Right Mindset

In order to do this well, you have to be two things:

1) honest and 2) imaginative


If you want things to be different, you have to be willing to do this differently.

This means you have to be courageously honest, which takes immense vulnerability.


You must be imaginative, because you don't want just more of what you've got now, you want bigger, better, different.

To get that, you have to be able to imagine something different and better for yourself.

One way I love to get into the honest and imaginative mindset is with a weird meditation. This one is a favorite.

Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting Your Year-End Retrospective

Get into the Gain Mindset:

Most people enter year-end planning in the "gap" mindset.

They look at where they wanted to end the year, and where they are now, and see the gap. This gap feeling is extremely painful and is not the energy we want to be bringing into 2024 with us.

That's why we need to get into the gain. The gain mindset is seeing where you started the year, and where you re now - and recognizing all you've gained, done, and created for yourself.

So to do this, start with your "Highlight Reel"

Capture everything that happened throughout the year which you loved, cherished, or simply want to remember forever. This includes things like vacations, work results, finance goals, setbacks turned into wisdom, precious moments, and anything big or small that brought joy, growth, or fun.

When you finish this, you'll not only be buzzing from just how much you learned, did, grew, and cherished the year-- but also have some insights as to what you can include on your roadmap for next year.

Transform your reflections into actionable plans with our exclusive workbook. Download the New Year Mastery: Your Life Design Workbook for $9 and pave the way for a year of growth and success. Click here to get started!

Review Your Goals

Take a close look at the goals you set for the past year.

Write out:

  • What your goals were
  • What you accomplished
  • What you did, or didn't do to achieve your goals
  • What you learned throughout the process

This will give you clarity around what makes great goals, what actions resulted in the best outcomes, and most importantly -- what you learned about your goals or yourself as you made (or didn't make) progress. (hey, there's learning to be had on goals you didn't achieve or actions you didn't take too.)

Assessing Personal and Professional Development

Explore the different facets of your life, from career to relationships, and evaluate your personal and professional development.

Identify areas where you can invest time and effort to achieve greater balance and fulfillment.

Your Job

Think about your work. What went well this year? Did you learn new things or face challenges? Consider if you're on the right career path and if there are skills you need to improve.

If you work in marketing, think about successful projects, any new skills you picked up, and areas where you struggled. If you need to get better at using digital marketing tools, make it a goal for next year.

Your Relationships

Look at your relationships with family, friends, and your significant other. Are you spending enough quality time with them? Identify relationships that need more attention and plan to strengthen them.

Consider how much time you spent with loved ones and if there are relationships you neglected. If so, set a goal to spend more quality time or plan activities together.

Your Personal Growth

Reflect on your personal growth. Did you try new things? Learn something new? Identify areas where you want to grow personally and set goals for yourself.

If learning a new language was a goal, celebrate any progress and set a goal to be more conversational next year. Look at other interests and make time for activities that make you happy.

Your Health

Think about your physical and mental well-being. How's your exercise routine? Stress levels? Identify areas for improvement and set simple goals for a healthier lifestyle.

Crafting Actionable Plans

Now that you've reflected on your achievements, learned from challenges, and assessed your personal and professional development, it's time to transform these insights into tangible action.

The key to turning your aspirations into reality lies in crafting actionable plans.

Let's break down this process into a practical roadmap that ensures your goals are not just dreams but achievable milestones.

Translating Reflections into Action: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Setting SMART Goals

The first step in crafting actionable plans is to set SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

We'll help you articulate your aspirations in a way that is clear, quantifiable, and tailored to your unique journey. This ensures that your goals are realistic and aligned with your vision for the future. Access your guide [here].

Step 2: Prioritizing Your Objectives

With your SMART goals in place, it's time to prioritize. Not all goals are created equal, and understanding which objectives will have the most significant impact on your life is crucial.

We'll guide you through a prioritization process, helping you focus your efforts on what truly matters. Access [here].

Step 3: Breaking Down Goals into Actionable Steps

Big goals can be overwhelming. Break them down into smaller, manageable tasks. This step-by-step breakdown not only makes the journey more digestible but also allows for continuous progress.

Step:4 Make them juicy!

The difference between a goal we achieve and the one we don't is directly proportional to how juicy it is to us. Juicy goals are ones that we wake up excited and motivated to work on. If you don't know how to make a goal juicy, here's a helpful video I created.

Step 5: Establishing Milestones and Progress Indicators

Tracking your progress is vital for staying on course.

Find a way to track your goals whether it's with a piece of paper, calendar reminders, alarms on your phone, finding an accountability partner, or using a check-list.

THEN, as you're working your way through -- be sure to set celebration milestones for each one. The more we can celebrate our progress, for each and everything we do, the more likely you are to continue.

It's the difference between a marathon runner who celebrates only when they cross the finish line, vs the marathon runner who celebrates every new run, each personal best, or longest run, or finding new athletic gear that helps. One is certainly going to be more likely to complete the marathon, AND have fun on the journey to doing it.

Step 6: Building in Flexibility and Adaptability

Life is unpredictable, and plans may need adjustments.

Decide now how you want to be with yourself when you get off track, because we inevitably will. Life is full of detours and obstacles, and deciding now how you want to treat yourself and how you want to get on track is game-changing.

By following these steps, you'll not only articulate your dreams but also create a roadmap to navigate the journey ahead. The process of crafting actionable plans turns your reflections into a dynamic guide for the future, empowering you to take deliberate steps toward the life you envision.

If you can't tell already, annual reviews and planning are my favorite things to do.

In fact, I started my own personal process in 2023, and I've been doing it ever since.

What started out as a simple highlight reel to capture my life's journey has flourished into a comprehensive system that I use every year to ensure that I'm learning from life and creating the juiciest intentions and plans for the new year.

And it works.

Ever since I started this process my certainty in my plans, decisions, and myself has become exponentially more potent.

Last year, I made this workbook available on TikTok, and it had 100+ downloads with awesome responses from people.

"Never in my life have I been more clear on what matters to me, and what it will take for me to have my best year yet."
"Normally I dread goals that I created for myself. They sound good on paper, but I'm not exactly motivated to achieve them. This year is different. I have goals and plans that I am so ready to begin on, that I'm not even waiting until Jan. 1"


  • Want to distill 365 days of life into your most important life lessons?
  • Want to start off the new year with clarity about what's important to you?
  • Want to have goals you're so excited about that you will absolutely achieve?

Download my New Year Mastery Workbook!

Unlock the potential within you by downloading our specially crafted workbook. This interactive guide will help you dive even deeper into your reflections, set meaningful goals, and design a life that aligns with your aspirations.

Ready to design your intentional life for 2024? Access our New Year Mastery: Your Life Design Workbook for only $9. Click here to download now and kickstart your journey of self-discovery!

Here's to a year of growth, success, and personal mastery! 🎉

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