The Best Gift You Can Give Yourself This Year? An End of Year Review…

Reflecting on the year is a powerful way to understand the patterns of your life and if you are moving in circles. This allows you to find new and better ways over the usual pathways and take note of the wins and losses of your life.

This is a guest post written by Iti Malken, Self-Development Expert and the Creator of Level Up by Iti. 

Often at this time of year you are likely to be thinking about what the new year will bring and you might find that you are already filling up your calendar with events and plans. But before you start focusing on 2023, it’s important to close out the old year with intention. 

Iti Malken self-development expert and the creator of the Level Up by Iti method says, “By the end of the year, we can forget a lot that happened. We might think that the year didn’t go so well. However, after writing up our annual review, we soon realise that we had many more successes than we originally remembered”.

Sitting down to do an annual review takes time, patience, and can feel a little uncomfortable and confronting. Why spend time doing this when you could be watching that festive Netflix movie you might ask? 

Reflecting on the year is a powerful way to understand the patterns of your life and if you are moving in circles. This allows you to find new and better ways over the usual pathways and take note of the wins and losses of your life. Celebrate the wins and be compassionate with the things that did not go that well. What is important here: the clarity you get is the basis to new ideas and positive change.

It’s actually the perfect antidote to the Christmas chaos giving you some much-needed time to reflect and give you a head start on the year ahead, your goals and vision.

Iti Malken, a self-development expert, says “Your annual review really is the best gift you can give yourself at the end of each year and will give you strong foundations upon which to set and achieve your goals. For me it has become an essential part of my own personal development journey and can be even more powerful than creating a vision board. 


Often, we are so focused on what our new year goals are we forget to appreciate the achievements from the last 12 months. With 2023 just around the corner, now is a great time to pause and reflect on the past twelve months by writing your end of year personal review. 

This exercise will help to set you up for success in January by reflecting on what you achieved during the year, what obstacles you faced and overcame and most importantly the lessons you learnt. Think of it as taking an honest look at the year and what went well, your achievements and the things that perhaps didn’t go so well.

An annual review isn’t easy. But when you commit to taking an honest look at your year— your highs, your lows, your actions, your mindset — you shift your life’s trajectory.

The Things You Will Need To Do Your Review

Plan around two hours of uninterrupted time where you can be on your own. Think of it as a mini retreat and create a comfortable environment where you can relax. You can use a desk or spread out on the floor. Grab a cup of tea, light a candle or do whatever you need to feel nourished and get the creativity flowing. Try to turn your phone and notifications off. 

You will need some large blank sheets of paper and pens and ideally your journals, notebooks and diaries from the year so you can review everything. If you use the notes app on your phone and you tend to store things digitally then you can use your phone, just make sure it is in flight mode for part one.

How To Get started

You can review your year in a way that feels good to you and you can review it based on your own criteria. You might want to do a straight review of the goals you set in 2022. Which ones did you meet and which ones are you perhaps rolling over into 2023?

You might want to go back through your old journals and notebooks from the year and do a month-by-month review. Remember there isn’t just one way of doing this and if you personalise the process you are more likely to enjoy it and then it can become a yearly ritual that you begin to look forward to. 

The simplest strategy is to split the review into two sections. You will find a series of questions below which will give you both a snapshot of where you are right now and also dig deeper into the different areas of life and shine a light on where you might want to make changes.

Once you have got settled in your space with everything you need you can do a short 10-minute meditation to come into the present moment.

Then take some time to free-write in your journal. How are you feeling right now? What emotions are coming up? Don’t judge what you are writing – it might just be keywords that are coming up or even ideas. There is no judgement.

Now it’s time to start jotting down the answers to some questions that will help you to organise your thoughts and feelings. Again, there is no right or wrong way to do this. Just allow yourself to answer them freely and without judgement. Some might feel more relevant than others.

General Review Questions

What were your key highlights of the year?

What are you most proud of?

What went well? What didn’t go well?

What was the biggest lesson (or lessons) you learned this year?

What new skills did you learn this year?

What was most challenging for you, and how did it make you feel?

What were your three biggest work accomplishments? What contributed to them?

Are there any other goals apart from the work you achieved that you are proud of?

Have you developed any healthy habits you want to keep?

What was the best decision you made all year? What did you learn from it?

People And Relationships

How has your relationship with yourself changed this year?

Which people in your life are you most grateful for?

Which person has inspired you the most this year and how? 

Which person had the biggest negative impact on your life? Why?

What new relationships enhanced your life? Who? How?

The Year Ahead 

Now you have reflected on the past 12 months, it’s time to start thinking ahead to 2023. You should now have clarity on what you want to work and your aspirations so you can start the strategic planning part.

To get started, answer the following questions 

What would a dream year look like for you in 2023?

What does success in 2023 mean for you?

What three big goals will you accomplish next year?

How do your goals for 2023 translate into actionable habits and processes?

What habits, behaviours, or attitudes will you need to develop or adopt next year?

What habits and behaviours do you need to change?

Try to dig deeper into the questions and answer them fully, really identifying your why and the reason behind wanting to achieve each goal.

Put Your Dreams Into Actionable Goals 

You’ve already mastered the deep work of your annual review. What’s left is a plan that helps you move towards your desired 2023 outcome.

Once you’ve broken down your dreams into actionable processes, summarise your reflections on one sheet. This summary will be your foundation for 2023. Place it somewhere where you can see it each day like on a mirror.

The recommendation with this would be to break each goal down into manageable steps with each goal having a monthly progress check in. In order to keep the momentum going it’s crucial to check in on where you are at so that any problems or red flags can be dealt with. 

For best results do this review every 3 months or so, review previously set goals and add new ones if needed.

Setting Yourself Up For Success 

Remember that once you have put your goal setting in place and you have a clear roadmap to navigate you that you need to let go of your vision. Remember you can only control so much of the process and that is your mindset and input. There will of course be some bumps in the road and you will need to course correct, or perhaps you decide that something you previously planned out you are no longer in alignment with. The only thing you need to focus on at any given time is the next tangible step.

I hope these questions help you as you draw up goals for the new year, and I also hope they help you to honour yourself and your achievements.