New Year Planning: 6 Questions to Review the Outgoing Year

Hey guys, hope you’re all well!

It’s that time of year where we’re looking forward to a new year, so I’ve been doing a lot of planning and goal setting (since October actually – I know, I’m strange, ha ha). But I really believe in planning. It’s so important. We want next year to be better than this year, and in order to make that happen, we have to be intentional.

I’ve recorded a video about reviewing the year/new year planning, but if you prefer to read text continue reading below the video 🙂


Whether this year has been good, or not so good, we want next year to be better. We want to make progress, spiritually, maritally, career-wise, with our kids, in our ministries, in our health.

But, before planning for next year, it’s important to first reflect on this year. If you want to go somewhere, if you want to move forward you first need to know where you are right now. Your satnav (GPS if you’re American 🙂 ) can only tell you where to go because it knows your current location. And you need to know your current location if you want to move forward. You need to take some time to reflect.

It’s important to look back, and I think looking back has negative connotations among Christians because we’re thinking of Lot’s wife who looked back, but there are certain situations where looking back is not only okay, it’s essential.

For example, when you’re driving, you definitely need to be forward focused, but you need to use your rearview mirror from time to time before you make decisions about whether to switch lanes, turn a corner, or reverse. And that’s what reflection does. You’re giving yourself the opportunity to work out what road you’re on and what destination you’re heading towards. Then you can decide whether to switch lanes or even reverse and turn around.

In Haggai 1:5-7 the bible says: Now therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways! “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, earns wages to put into a bag with holes.” Thus says the Lord of hosts: “Consider your ways!

And that’s what we want to do. Now is the time, as this year rolls out, to take a moment and work out where you are, how you got there and what to do about it; whether to switch lanes, back up or stay on course.

So, here are some questions to aid your self-reflection and your reflection on this outgoing year. They’ve been useful for me, so I hope they’re useful for you too.

But before we get to the questions let me just say, this isn’t supposed to turn into a pity party, or make you sink into depression. The purpose of this exercise is to help you move forward. Whatever happened this year is done. We’re doing this in order to move forward.

Another purpose of this exercise is to stir up gratitude. I’m certain that lots of things went well for you this year so as you reflect, take a moment to thank God for that.

So, here are the questions:

  1. What were the main high points this year? Choose two or three things.

It’s always good to start positive, so think about the main good things about 2017 that stand out for you.

  1. Go through the year month by month and write down something good that happened that month.

These can be simple things, for example, maybe in January it was your birthday and you had a good time, in February your boss complimented you on a piece of work, in March you learned something new about God or about a particular scripture…

Go through the whole year and write down one good thing that happened each month.

  1. In what ways did you improve or grow as an individual this year?

Did you get a degree or other qualification? Were you a more faithful steward at work this year? Did you grow in loving your spouse unconditionally rather than only being loving if you felt they deserved it? Did you pray more this year and get closer to God? Did you volunteer at church, or stay committed to a ministry? It doesn’t matter what it is. Is there any evidence of growth in your life this year.

  1. What didn’t go so well?

So we’ve talked about the highlights. Now it’s time to talk about the lowlights? In which areas did you regress or just not make as much progress as you should have?

  1. What mistakes did you make this year, and more importantly what did you learn from them? How can you prevent making such mistakes again in future?

We all make mistakes so let’s not beat ourselves down about it. Let’s learn from them and work out how to prevent making similar mistakes in the future.

  1. What did you hope, on January 1st of this year, to have achieved by now? Have you done those things? If so, what has the result been? If not, what hindered you?

So this is where we really begin to dig a little deeper. Even if you didn’t set goals for this year, I’m sure there are things that you wanted to achieve. Did you achieve them? Why, or why not? This is important because if you’re able to identify the reasons why you didn’t achieve the things you wanted to achieve you can address those issues and make sure they don’t hold you back in the coming year. Also, on the flip side, if you’re able to identify why you were able to achieve the things you did achieve, you can use it as a formula to keep achieving next year.


So those are my six tips for reviewing the year. I hope you found them helpful. I’m in a super motivated mood with all this goal-setting stuff so I’ll be back soon with another post about preparing for the new year.

In writing news, I finished writing the next Lincoln book this morning. It’s called The Chef and it’s Locke’s story, but I’m going to sit on it for a while as I may need to add more to it to set up the next few brothers’ books

God bless 😉