Reflect and Re-energise: Our Annual Review Process

23 January 2023

Did you find 2022 challenging in business or in your job? Are you looking for a way to process your experience and create enthusiasm and goals for this new year?

In 2022, I heard more often than ever before that business owners and staff were struggling with exhaustion, jaded or even burnt out. I thought sharing the process I have been using with my business buddy for 10 years might help support you.

Here’s what Fiona Larkings and I have been undertaking annually. We have adapted it through the years and can’t remember where we found the original material. (We would acknowledge the developer of the idea if we could.)

Our annual review

We love our annual review as a form of debrief about the year and a time for celebration. We include our failures and what we learnt from them. And the process opens us up for change.

Start now

Preparation for the annual review starts in January. As and when events happen in our business, we make a note and put it in the Capture Everything jar (which sit on our desks). This started out as the Good Things jar, but the scope has evolved through the years.

Phase 1

In December we empty the jar, note our good things and the not-so-good, challenging and frustrating on a piece of paper. We reflect on them personally. Then we get together to discuss them. How did we respond? What did we learn? What would we change? And we make a point of celebrating the year.
I really value Fiona’s perspective, as sometimes as business owners, we are too close to our experience to see it clearly. We challenge each other’s thinking as part of the process.


We agree that we both get a lot out of the reflection stage and there’s plenty of research to show that reflection is good for the brain. Reflection gives the brain an opportunity to pause amidst the chaos, untangle and sort through observations and experiences, consider multiple possible interpretations, and create meaning.

Every year, this untangling allows a clearing of the deck and generates new energy for the year ahead.
We also mine the year that was for fresh ideas. And consider goals and intentions for the new year.

Phase 2

After a good break over Christmas, we get together again in January to consider the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats to our businesses and determine our new goals.
We finalise our 3-4 major goals/projects for the coming year and outline the tasks required to achieve these.
The process enables us to see the year ahead with fresh eyes; it gives us clarity and the insights gained replenish how we show up for our clients and what we can offer them.

Why we love it

“This second phase gives me a list of tasks that will help deliver on my goals. As I am a list person, this motivates me and keeps me accountable,” Fiona said.

“Having done it now for 10 years together it allows us to compare what we experienced and were thinking in previous years, how our goals have changed and how the business has adapted. We can see our progress over the years and what we achieved in the year just gone as we have often forgotten major things,” she said.

“This process creates enjoyment about starting the next year.

“Taking time to work on my business, to design the business I want to operate, to consider the clients I want to work with and the projects I would like to achieve each year has been vital to the longevity of my business. Working with Birgit on these elements over the past 10 years has only strengthened my 25-year business journey.”

As you can see, it energises us, which is why I was keen to share it with you after a stressful year for many in business.

If you want to use the process at the end of this year, start by writing down key things as they happen from now on and keep them in a jar. We’ll get back to you later in the year to discuss how you might find a business buddy and we’ll share more detail of our annual review process so you can try it too.

Of course, if you already have a process you use, we’d be keen to hear about it and learn from your experience.