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Unlocking the Power of a Personal Annual Review

Chris Gottschalk

Chris Gottschalk About The Author

Jan 3, 2024 4:45:00 AM

Everyone wants the coming year to be the best one ever, the year where you reach all your big goals and do all the things you hoped you would. Let's face it, though--that usually doesn't happen. Instead, most people find themselves in December, wondering what exactly happened to the previous 12 months.

However, there is a way to make sure you're keeping on track with all the financial goals you've set and to help prevent yourself from falling into the same mindset: the personal annual review. It helps you prepare for the new year by looking over the last year and thinking about all the things you've learned. It then helps you plan for the upcoming year. Here's how to unlock the power of a personal annual review for yourself.

Here's how to perform a personal annual review

Personal annual review

Understanding the Concept of a Personal Annual Review

Before we get into how to do a personal annual review, though, let’s take a step back and define what a personal annual review is.

What is a Personal Annual Review?

Most people with career jobs are familiar with the concept of a personal review, where your supervisor talks with you about your performance over the past year and why it was (hopefully) satisfactory. They also review the goals that they set with you, whether you achieved them or not, and then set more goals for you in the upcoming year.

A personal annual review is a similar concept. You’ll look over the last year and evaluate yourself on your performance, personal growth and what progress you made toward reaching your financial goals. It’s a structured way for you to reflect on what went well, where you could improve and what goals you’d like to set for the next 12 months.

A personal annual review is essentially a self-evaluation of your performance, personal growth, and financial goals over the last year. It's a time to look back on the goals you set, the progress you made, and the important things that happened.

Importance of a Personal Annual Review

If you have annual reviews at your job, you might be wondering why you would ever want another annual review in your life. What do you get out of reviewing your performance over the past year?

As it turns out, conducting a personal annual review can give you a lot of valuable insights. You can reflect on your achievements, learn from your failures and set clear, actionable goals for the upcoming 12 months. It also helps keep you from getting stuck in the same patterns, goals and mindset year after year.  

Preparing for Your Personal Annual Review

By now, you know what a personal annual review is, and how doing a personal annual review will benefit you. This leads to the next question—how do you go about doing such a review?

The first step in any personal annual review is preparing for it. Don’t worry, this won’t take long. Here’s what you need to do.

Gather the necessary information

First, gather all your relevant personal financial information. This can include:

  • A list of financial goals
  • Your monthly budget
  • Online bank account information
  • Credit card statements
  • Loan information

Since we’re living in the 21st century, you’ll probably have most of this information online. If that’s the case, make sure to arrange all this information so that it’s easy for you to view and access. Having two monitors is a good way to do this, but you can also use multiple devices, like a smartphone and a table

Selecting the Right Tools

Choosing the best tools for your personal annual review is crucial to ensuring an honest look at your financial goals, personal growth, and mindset reframe. There are various tools available, both online and offline, that can help you track your progress, set financial goals, and review your performance. Some tools you can use include:

  • Pen or pencil
  • Notepad
  • iPad
  • Post-it notes
  • Budget worksheets
  • SMART goal creator

Create your financial goals today! 

Start Setting GoalsA Step-by-Step Guide to Conducting Your Own Personal Annual Review

Now that you’re prepared, it’s time to actually conduct the personal annual review. This guide will help you reflect on your past year, learn from your successes and failures, visualize your future, and plan for the year ahead.

Reflecting on Your Past Year

The first step in your personal annual review is to reflect on your performance, personal growth, and any financial goals that you set last year.

Ask yourself:

  • What goals did I reach last year?
  • Were there any goals that I wanted to reach but didn’t?
  • What skills did I improve?
  • What new habits did I adopt?
  • Was there anything that didn’t go as planned?

You should write these answers down so you can reference them later.

Learn from Your Successes and Failures

While you’re reflecting on the previous year, you’ll want to take an honest look at your achievements, failures and important lessons you learned. Again, you’ll want to capture all this information, whether you’re writing it down or typing it out.

Once you’ve got this information captured, use your successes as motivation. When you come to your failures, though, don’t beat yourself up over them. Nobody can do everything right, so instead of dwelling on how you didn’t succeed, instead, reframe them as learning opportunities and gauge your success based on what you learned from them.

Visualize Your Future

Now that you’ve looked at the previous year, it’s time to look to the future. Ask yourself what you can do to make this year the best one ever, and visualize it in your mind. Think about:

You should dream big when setting these goals. Even if you don’t manage to achieve all your goals in the next year, you’ll at least have an idea of what’s really important to you, and who knows—you might make more progress toward reaching those goals than you expected.

Again, you should capture all this information. You’ll want to look back on it when you start planning for the year ahead.

What are some common mistakes people make when conducting their personal annual review?

Some common mistakes people make when conducting their personal annual review include not setting financial goals with clear metrics, focusing only on the negatives, and not reflecting on personal growth. It's important to approach the review with a positive mindset, celebrate achievements, and identify areas for improvement.

How to do a personal annual review

Plan for the Upcoming Year

This is a little more work than the previous sections, but it’s also where the rubber meets the road. Select the financial goals you’d like to work on and make them SMART. In other words, they should be:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

Once you’ve figured out all these aspects of your goal, you should have a pretty good idea of what you’ll need to do to reach your goal and how long it will take.

You’ll also want to adjust your budget as well. This is something you should do for the new year in general, but as you’re adjusting your budget, create categories for the financial goals you’ve set for yourself and allocate money to them. You might even want to consider how you can bring in additional income you can put toward these goals.

Finally, select a date when you’d like to review the progress you’re making through the year. You could set up a semiannual review in the summer, but if you’re really serious about keeping yourself on track, you might want to do a mini review every week.

How a weekly personal review works

A mini review doesn’t have to be anything elaborate. Just look over the progress you’ve made toward your financial goals and make sure you’re still on track. If you’re not, figure out how you’ll get back on track, whether it’s making additional payments or just altering the time frame in which you’d like to achieve your goal. You can also look over what went well and what didn’t go so well each week.

Got questions about saving for financial goals? Ask us! 

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Make the New Year Yours With First Alliance Credit Union

If you really want to start the new year off right, do yourself a favor and do a personal annual review. You’ll be able to look over the events of the past year to see what went right and what didn’t, learn from your successes and failures, and set goals for the future. You’ll also be able to create a roadmap to reach your goals, track your progress and make sure you’re not straining your budget in the process.

If you’d like to conduct your own personal annual review, use the resources First Alliance Credit Union offers for free to make the process easier. You can use our budget calculator to adjust your budget as needed and our SMART goal setter can help you easily set concrete goals that matter to you. If you become a member, you can even take advantage of the My Money tool in our online banking platform to keep track of how much money you’ve saved for your goals.

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