Hi, I'm Christin.
I'm all about simplifying
content for creatives.

In this post, I’m walking through how to hold a year-end reflection and goal-planning retreat in a day. 

What went well for you this year? In what ways did you grow? 

Did you know those who do find success measure their progress based on where they started not on their ideal—a “moving target that is always out of reach”? The key, according to Dan Sullivan and Benjamin Hardy in “The Gap and the Gain: The High Achievers’ Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success,” is to measure your current self against your former self.

Unfortunately, most people simply don’t take the time to reflect at all so they’re always stuck eyeing that moving, out-of-reach target. But it’s one of my favorite ways to spend a day, and since I’m fascinated by goal planning and time efficiency, I’ve distilled my favorite way to hold a one-day personal retreat here for you. 

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that when you spend a little time reflecting on the past you can be mindful in how to go forward. For instance, research shows spending even 15 minutes reflecting on your day can improve your performance by 23 percent.

And there’s evidence that writing one’s goal enhances goal achievement.

In one study on goal setting, participants who wrote their goals were 42 percent more likely to achieve them than those who simply thought about their goals. 

Researchers found more than 70 percent of the participants who sent weekly updates to a friend reported successful goal achievement, compared to 35 percent of those who kept their goals to themselves, without writing them down. 

In this post, I’m detailing how you can benefit from both reflection and goal setting with four steps to hold your own year-end reflection and goal-planning retreat.

1. Make it fun.

This should be a day you look forward to. Block off a day on your calendar and decide on a place to go out of your regular work environment—whether you plan a workcation out of town or claim a corner in your favorite coffee shop. Grab a few new office supplies—fancy pens, sticky notes, notebook. Make it feel fun.

2. Review the past year.  

This is the part when you spend a little time reflecting on the past.

First, audit your emotions.

Start with gratitude. Set a timer for 20 minutes and list all the meaningful moments, milestones and emotions you’re thankful for this year. Seriously, make a full list! Go month by month if it helps, reviewing your calendar, photo albums and social posts to create an overview of all the highlights.

Next, after reviewing all of those milestones, consider: What were your top three feelings this year? What did you feel the most? Were you inspired? Motivated? Frustrated? Why? When you identify what you most often felt, you are showing your brain what it is thinking on default—generally that your circumstances are causing your feelings. But actually naming these feelings brings awareness to them, so you can notice them and decide deliberately from there what you want to think and feel. 

Second, audit your data.

It’s time to get practical and pull your numbers from the past year. Use this table (or your Metrics Tracker if you’re inside the Content Launch Plan) to detail the following metrics. If you can, include numbers from the past year and the prior one.

Your business:
Total and monthly revenue
Total and monthly expenses
Total profit
Average monthly profit
Where did the majority of sales come from? 
Your content:
Email list growth What brought in the most leads?
Total trafficWhat pages/posts were most popular?
Top traffic channel(s)Where did your traffic come from?
Social engagementWhich posts had the most engagement?
Social audience growth

Finally, review the numbers and journal through the following:

  • What worked? What didn’t?
  • What did you learn?
  • What felt easy?
  • What felt hard?
  • What did you love creating, working on, putting out into the world?
  • What do you never want to do again?

3. Set your goals for next year.

Given all that reflection, now you can be mindful in how to go forward.

Brainstorm for the year ahead:

  • What do you want to achieve next year? If next year were coming to a close and you were reflecting back on it, what would the key highlights of your ideal year be? Set a timer again and list out everything—ideas, opportunities, possibilities to grow your business, your audience, your email list, strengthen your message, automate your systems, position you as an expert, in your personal relationships and more.
  • What would you try if you couldn’t fail? Let’s say you could wave a magic wand and everything would be a success. What bold move would you take? What would you say yes to?  
  • How do you want to feel at year’s end? Describe it.

With all that in mind, determine three to five big-picture goals for your business and life in the coming year. Make sure you write them as specific, actionable goals. Rather than “grow email list,” for example, you could set your goal as “grow email list by 100 emails per month.”

Related Post: A Simple Guide to Setting Your Content Goals

Next, consider which goal you will focus on each quarter. Create a focus for yourself to work from.

4. Create an annual marketing plan.

Finally, this is where we get more granular. 

Create a plan to follow—a roadmap for what to share—an annual marketing plan that informs your content calendar and generally makes showing up online so much easier.

Here, you will: 

  • Get the big annual picture. Zoom out to get a handle on the time you’re working with.
  • Set your quarterly campaigns. Know what primary product or service you will be driving people to and set a goal you can measure.
  • Zoom in on next quarter. What are the problems or challenges your offer solves? Create a content matrix outlining different angles of the problem and various ways to solve it in connection to your offer. 

See how I break down each of those steps to create a content roadmap for the year here

And be sure to get on the list for Content Camp, my NEW 5-day email series walking you through how to plan your content for next quarter (and feel less overwhelmed doing it). 

If we haven’t had the chance to *virtually* meet yet, hi! I’m Christin—professional editor and content strategist (aka word wingwoman) here to simplify content for creatives. If you want to show up consistently online, this NEW 5-day email series will show you how to plan your content for next quarter (and feel less overwhelmed doing it). It’s 100% free—you’ll be making better content (with less actual content) in no time! Get on the list for CONTENT CAMP.

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