Please enjoy this transcript of this episode with our founder, Doug Smith. It was transcribed and therefore might contain a few typos.
Doug Smith: 00:00 One, because you don’t grow just by getting another year older, you grow through reflecting, learning, and making changes as necessary. I’ll say that again. You don’t grow just by getting another year older. You grow through reflecting, learning, and making changes as necessary. This is the L3 Leadership Podcast, episode number 174. What’s up everyone, and welcome to another episode of the L3 Leadership podcast. My Name’s Doug Smith and I’m the founder of L3 Leadership. We are a leadership development company devoted to helping you become the best leader that you can be. In this episode, you’re going to get to hear me share my process for conducting a year-end review. I’ve been doing year-end reviews since 2004 and it’s one of my favorite things to do each year. In fact, the last week of the year is always my favorite week of the year because of my year-end review process and so over the years a ton of people have asked me about my year-end review and have taken my process and made their own year-end review and I consistently get feedback that it’s been a life-changing process for them and so I’m going to be recording in this episode of personal lesson and I’ll be walking you through how to do a year-end review and my hope is that after listening to this lesson, you’ll do your own year-end review and it’ll be a wonderful process for you.
Doug Smith: 01:08 A few things just resource wise. I actually created a template for you on how to do a year-end review that you can use in the show notes and I also include several links to things that I talked about in the lesson. So it is important that you check out the show notes for this episode and you can check those out at L3leadership.org/episode 174. Before we jump into the lesson, just a few announcements. I want to let you guys know that we recently introduced l three leadership membership. That’s right. You can now become a member of L3 Leadership. You might say to me, well, Doug, why become a member? Because I believe every leader needs a group of leaders to go through life without a will, encourage them, hold them accountable to their goals and help them reach their potential. At L3 Leadership, we’ve developed a community of leaders that will help you do just that.
Doug Smith: 01:51 As a member, you’ll get access to our community of leaders. You’ll have the ability to join a mastermind group, which I believe is absolutely critical to your success. You’ll get access to extra resources, content, and a member only forum on our member-only website. Membership is only $25 a month and you can sign up at L3leadership.org/membership. I also want to thank our sponsor, Alex Tulandin. Alex is a full-time realtor with Keller Williams Realty, and if you’re looking to buy or sell a house in the Pittsburgh market, Alex is your guy. He’s a member and a supporter of L3 Leadership and he would love the opportunity to connect with you. You can find out more about Alex and connect with them@Pittsburghpropertyshowcase.com and with all that being said, let’s dive right into the lesson and I’ll be back at the end with a few announcements. Hey everyone today I want to talk to you about finishing your
Doug Smith: 02:33 year well and I can’t think of a better way to finish your year that by doing a year-end review, I first sort of doing year-end reviews in 2004. My mentor Larry Betancourt encourage me to spend some time at the end of the year reflecting and learning from the year that had just passed and so I did that and I absolutely loved it. And now I’ve been doing year-end reviews for 13 years and over those 13 years I’ve consistently studied and learned from leaders on how they reflect and how they evaluate their year. And as a result, my year-end review has evolved a lot since 2004. And so I’m going to share my current process with you today and I’ll also include a template in the show notes that you can download and use for your year-end review this year before we dive into the actual process of how to do a year-end review. Just a few thoughts. First and foremost, why do you need to do a year-end review or number one, because you don’t grow just by getting another year older.
Doug Smith: 03:21 You grow through reflecting, learning, and making changes as necessary. I’ll say that again. You don’t grow just by getting another year older. You grow through reflecting, learning, and making changes as necessary. John Maxwell said it best when he said experience isn’t the best teacher, evaluated experience is. A year-end review is an opportunity to evaluate the year that had just passed. The second reason I would tell you to do a year-end review is this a way to document your life. Imagine being able to go back to any year of your life and read a summary of where you were that year, what goals you had, what you accomplished, the losses, the lessons learned, and so on. And to take it a little bit further, this is kind of nerdy, but I do decade reviews and so when I turned 30, I took all of my year-end reviews from my twenties and I evaluated the lessons learned from an entire decade of my life.
Doug Smith: 04:09 Again, I know that’s a little bit nerdy, but it was incredible to be able to do that and just see everything that happened in my life in my twenties. And I can promise you that if you’ll do a year in review, it’ll change your life and you’ll love, love, love having them. And then lastly, I just thought about this, you know, as far as the longterm vision, it would be a cool gift to give your kids one day, even though they might not care, right? I might be 80 years old one day and hen my kids, my year-end reviews and then just laugh, right? And put it in a box and where for the next 80 years, but it could be a cool gift that your kids can actually look into every year of your life and see what lessons you learned, what memories you had.
Doug Smith: 04:42 And I just think it would be a wonderful gift for them. So that’s why you should do a year-end review. And just two other thoughts before we dive into the process. Number one is realized that the best system for a year-end review is the one that you actually follow the best system for a year-end review is the one that you actually follow. I want to encourage you to copy my process. However, what I would encourage you to do is take what you like about my process and make it your own. And then secondly realized that if this is your first-year end review, it’s not going to be as in depth as you would like to be, but do it anyway. I’m going to be sharing things that I track in my journal throughout the year. And if you haven’t been journaling or capturing things throughout the year, you may not have as much content as you want to
Doug Smith: 05:19 fill your year-end review, but do it anyway, next years will be better. The important thing is just to do one and I’ll be sharing in January how to make the most of your year and I’ll walk through how to journal and capture some of these things. But again, if this is your first-year end review, do it anyway. Just create a process, do it, and get better every year. With all that being said, let’s dive into the actual process of doing your year-end review. The first step I would encourage you to take is to actually schedule time to do your year-end review. Preferably this would be during the last week of the year and some of you may want to do a morning, some of you and entire day, some of you multiple days. The important thing isn’t necessarily how much time you devote to it. The thing is that you actually do devote time to it.
Doug Smith: 05:59 So schedule something right now that last week of the year and say, I’m going to do my year-end review at this time, and some of you may say, well, where should I go? The important thing here is just get to a place where you won’t be distracted. A place where you can get quiet and actually think and so some of you you may want to actually do an overnighter at a cabin in the woods. Some of you are able to do this in your house, but again, find a quiet place where you can think and reflect. So once you have the appointment in your calendar and once you know where you’re going to go, what do you need to bring with you? Several things that encourage you to bring. First, I’d encourage you to bring your journal. If you journal, and I’ll just say this, I don’t have time to teach on journaling, but I will include a link in the show notes.
Doug Smith: 06:38 I wrote an entire blog post and I did an entire podcast episode on how I journal. So I would encourage you to start journaling. If you haven’t in 2018, but if nothing else, I would encourage everyone listening to this to download the app the five-minute journal, the five-minute journal. This is an app I downloaded in January of this year and I’ve been using it every day. It literally only takes two or three minutes to fill out every day and it’s been a great addition to my actual handwritten journal and so I love that and I think anyone can do it and they’ll really draw a lot from that. So the five-minute journal app, make sure you get that. I also bring my calendar, which is usually on my laptop. This is something interesting, but, Matt Keller posted this recently. I thought it was a great idea.
Doug Smith: 07:20 I’ll bring all my photos for the year so we’ll be able to look through those and draw some things from the photos. I also bring my life plan. If you have no idea what a life plan is, I encourage you right now to go buy a book and I’ll include a link in the show notes to the book Living Forward by Michael Hyatt. Again, that’s Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and he outlines in that book a process for developing a life plan. This is something that I had everyone in our mastermind groups do and it’s been one of the most rewarding exercises for all of them, but you need a life plan. I don’t have time to teach on that, but get the book Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and make sure you go through the exercise of creating one. I bring my goals and so I have gold documents and I write my goals out every week.
Doug Smith: 08:02 And so I’ll bring a list of all my goals and the progress that I made there. I bring all of my finances as well. I use a website called mint.com, which is also great. And that will tell my financial picture, and then this is fun, but I actually bring my bucket list. And so if you, if you don’t have a bucket list and if you have no idea what that is, it’s just a list of things that you would want to do before you kick the bucket before you die. But I have a bucket list and I bring it in because I always want to dream about new things that I can add to the bucket list, but I also want to see a what bucket list items that I crossed out for the year. So that’s pretty much everything that I’ll bring to my year-end review.
Doug Smith: 08:38 I do bring my journal so I can continue to write in that and I bring my laptop because that’s where I type up the report, which is what I’ll talk about next. And so, I’m going to the report is what I actually write for the year-end review. I created an entire report summary of the year and so I’ll include a pdf in the show notes. There’ll be a template that you can use for the report, but I’m just going to run you through all the areas that I actually tracked during my year-end review. And again, you don’t have to take the system. You may think this is excessive, but take what you like and make your own system. That’s the whole point of this entire episode. So once I go through all the documents that I just listed, I go through my journal, I go through my calendar and my photos, my life plan, my goals, my finances, and my bucket list.
Doug Smith: 09:24 I write all kinds of things out. So here are some things that I put in my year-end report. And again, there’ll be a template for this in the show notes versus my highlights. What were the biggest highlights of the year? Low Lights. What were the bummers of the year, right? What were the losses? Third, were there any themes throughout the year? Usually, God puts a theme or two in my heart throughout the year. And I’ll write that down. Number four is lessons learned. So this is probably the biggest section in the report. All the lessons that I learned from anything. And I’ll talk about what I do with this report after I go through everything in the report. Next. Number five is memories. So I type up an entire document of all the memories for the year so I can go back to any year in my life and look at all the memories and funny things that happened that year.
Doug Smith: 10:11 It’s wonderful. I have a section for scripture. So what were the main scriptures that spoke to me that year? I have a section on how I spent my time specifically, you know, did I have too many breakfast meetings that I have too many lunch meetings that I spend enough time at home. How did I actually spend my time? Another section I do is tough questions that I got asked to this year. Tough questions I got asked this year. I spent time with a lot of leaders and I ask for a lot of feedback and often they asked me very tough questions and I want to keep those in front of me. And so I always have a section for that. I have a section for all the books that I read that year. I have a section for areas that I need to grow in the following year.
Doug Smith: 10:48 So once I started extracting lessons, I started to look at areas that I really need to grow in. I have a section for action steps that I didn’t follow up on, what were things that I said I was going to do, but I didn’t. I have a section for encouragement, what encouraging things were said to me that year that really fired me up. And then I need to go back to, if I’m having a rainy day and need encouraged, I have a section for things that I prayed for. What were the big things I prayed for? What prayers did God answer that year? I have a section on opportunities. So what opportunities opened up that I never thought would open up doors opened that I never thought would open. I have a section for accomplishments. What did actually accomplish this year that I’m proud of? I have a section for the most influential people in my life that year.
Doug Smith: 11:29 Specifically the top three. I have a section for a goal assessment. So how did I do in all of my goals were progress that I make, what goes down and I hit. And why I have an entire section on stats and so I’ll write down how many speaking engagements I had that year, how much you got paid for them if I got paid. I have all my social stats, so I go through and see how many followers and all of that stuff. Same thing for the website. I do all the analytics on my websites. Same thing with the podcast, how many downloads each episode got, et cetera. So I have an entire section on stats, A. I do a section on the funniest youtube videos for that year because I enjoy going back and watching funny videos. I have a section for the best movies of the year.
Doug Smith: 12:07 I have a section for bucket list items, completed section for places that I traveled to. And then I do a financial report which is a summary of everything, of how I spend my money, how I saved, what progress I’ve made towards my financial goals, etc. And that pretty much wraps up what I actually report on. So I realized that you may have listened to everything that I just listed out that I put in my year-end review and you may be overwhelmed or you may think that’s way too much. Again, the important thing isn’t that you copy my year-end review section for section. The important thing is that you actually do your own year-end review. So again, take the best of what you liked out of my year, end review and make your own. The most important thing here is that you actually do a year-end review and reflect and review the year that you just experienced.
Doug Smith: 12:49 And so you may be asking, well Doug, what do you actually do with your year-end review report once it’s done? Or how do you actually wrap up the whole process? Well, here’s what I do after my year-end review. First, I saved the report, rIght? I actually saved the year-end review. I save it on my desktop or on my hard drive. I save it online and I also print out a copy and put it in a folder because I don’t want to lose it. And so that’s the first thing that I do. Secondly, when I’m done with my year-end review, I actually planned the next year and so I’ll set my goals and I’ll actually do a podcast next month on how to have the best year ever and some things that I do to plan for the year ahead. Another exercise that I do after my year-end review is the one I list the top three most influential people in my life.
Doug Smith: 13:30 I’ll actually write handwritten letters to them, letting them know that they were one of the top three most influential people in my life that year. And if I can all handle it, if I can’t, I’ll mail it to them. And that’s been a wonderful exercise every year and I’d highly encourage you to do that. I also look over all the people that impacted me and I’ll try to thank as many people as I can for a great year. If someone said something specifically to me or did something for me, you know, I’ll text them, I’ll email them and just say, hey, thank you so much for making an impact in my life, something else that I do is Laura, I’ve sold Laura on the year-end review process and so she’ll do a year-end review as well. And afterward we go out to a dinner and it’s our new year’s dinner and we reflect and share about our year-end reviews and what we learned in our highlights.
Doug Smith: 14:15 And it turns into this wonderful dinner. So if you’re married, I highly encourage you to involve your spouse with this but have a year-end review dinner with your wife or your husband, you won’t regret it. And then the last thing I do is I’ll actually write a blog or now, more often than not, I wrote a podcast episode on the lessons that I learned from the previous year. For me, I personally believe that the best way to learn something is to teach it to others. And so, I take everything that I reflected on and I write a lesson called the top lessons learned in the previous year. And then I share it with everyone. And that way it’s cemented in my mind and hopefully adds value to other people. So there you go. That is my year-end review process. Um, I would love to hear it. If you have a year-end review process and you do things a little differently, I would love to hear how you do yours.
Doug Smith: 15:02 Feel free to comment in the show notes or send me an email with dougSmith@L3leadership.org. I’d love to hear from you. But again, if you do this process, if you’ve never done a year in review and you do it, please let me know. I love hearing when people do it and what they got out of it. I have a friend Greg Furver if he’s listening. I think he made it 46-page document. I mean he went more insane than I did. Uh, but that’s Greg and I love it. So I’d love to hear your, um, your takeaways from this lesson and your year-end review. I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and a wonderful new year and I’ll talk to you next episode.
Doug Smith: 15:38 Hey everyone. Thank you so much for listening to my lesson on my year-end review process. Again, you can get your year-end review template and links to everything that we discussed in the show notes@L3leadership.org/episode174, few things to wrap up. I want to thank our sponsor, Henne Jewelers. They are a jeweler owned by my friend and mentor, John Henne. My wife and I both got our engagement and wedding rings through many jewelers and we just think they’re an incredible company. Not only do they have great jewelry, but they also invest in people. John gave Laura and I have booked to help us prepare for our marriage and he’s also been investing in me now for years as a leader, a husband, and a dad, and I just appreciate him so much. So if you’re in need of a good jeweler or check out Hennejewelers.com. As always, if you enjoyed this podcast, it would mean the world to me
Doug Smith: 16:19 if you would subscribe and leave a rating and review. That always helps us grow our audience organically. So thank you for that and thanks again for being a listener. I never take that for granted. If you want to stay up to date with everything we’re doing here at l three leadership, you can go to our website and sign up for our email list at L3leadership.org. And as always, I like to end with a quote. And Craig Groschel said this recently and I love it. He said, your life is too valuable, you’re calling too great and your God too awesome to waste your life on things that don’t matter. Thanks again for listening and being a part of L3 leadership. Laura, and I appreciate you so much and we’ll be back next episode.