As the year comes to an end, I thought it might be useful to share some questions that might help with reviewing your past year.

This is an adapted post, based on what I have written here.

And, I've put together an interactive suite so you can answer the questions in a more frictionless way. It's on PH right now. I hope the exercise increases your utilotons.

Before starting, here are a few reasons why reflecting on your year might be a good idea:

  • You're essentially using System 2 to learn from the general unarticulated patterns of data gathered by System 1. This can help reduce possible Garfield errors.
  • According to Dr. Jordan Peterson, written reflection also transforms the way the brain processes your experiences, as neural activity shifts from the emotional, stress-related parts of your brain (amygdala) to the more logical and detatched parts of your brain (pre-frontal cortex).
  • It's always great to have an increase in self-knowledge. You are an individual after all, might as well get to know yourself better.

I struggled with clearly categorising the questions, but here's my attempt nonetheless.

Looking at the stuff that has shapes you over the last year:

365 days is a long time. The purpose of these questions is to become more aware of the experiences and ideas that have influenced you and the person you’ve become in the last year.

  • What were some significant experiences that occurred in the last year? Describe 3–5. How did they change your perceptions and actions? Were they good or bad?
  • What new things did you discover this year? (Books, Ideas, People) Which ones influenced you the most? How?
  • What did I encounter that was unexpected — Which surprised me?
  • What did I continue to enjoy this year?
  • What did I continue to work on this year?
  • What new priorities have emerged for you this year that you are committed to honoring? Which old ones would you like to reaffirm. Write your WHY next to each one.

Learning from the good times and the bad times:

  • Make a list of 3–5 things that went really well in the last year. Why do you think these were successes? What stopped them from being catastrophes?
  • Make a list of 3–5 things that went horribly wrong this year. Why do you think this occured? What might have led to a different outcome? What actionable changes might you make?
  • What was painful? What caused this pain? List 5 examples.
  • What were the largest obstacles I faced? How did I deal with them?
  • What small things and big things should I be most grateful for from this year?
  • What were your worst decisions of the year? Why did you make them?
    What is the biggest “unfinished business” of the year and what can you do about that?
  • What do I regret the most?
  • What was the toughest experience?
  • When was I at my worst?
  • What were the vices that I indulged in? Am I willing to write these off?
  • What habits am I proud to have cultivated? How can I do more of this?
  • What beliefs got in the way last year? What are some examples?
  • What were the 20% of activities, people, and pursuits that gave me 80% of the value in my life? What 80% of things got in the way?

Comparing Reality to Intentions:

  • What priorities did I honor well in 2017?
  • What were my priorities this year — Theoretically?
  • What were my actual priorities this year (as revealed by your actions — Look at your calendar). What did I turn my back on? Truly enact and commit to?
  • Which goals from the previous year did I achieve?
  • What did I improve at?
  • Where did I worsen or stagnate?
  • What important things were there that I should have done but didn’t do? AKA What have I been avoiding?
  • Why did you do what you did?
  • Did my actions show me to be a good person?
  • How much time did I spend on things that were consequential/stuff I cared about?
  • Did I contribute to others? If not, how can I enable myself to be better in the future?…
  • How did I help those around me?
  • Who must I thank for being amazing this year? When will I do it?

That's it. Once again, I've made a neat tool for answering these questions in an interactive way, so it might be worth trying it.

Also, this is my first post here, so any feedback would be great. I've been thinking of sharing some summaries/reviews of books/articles clustered around certain topics IE history, psychology etc. Would that be okay?

All the best for the year ahead BTW :D

New to LessWrong?

New Comment
3 comments, sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 6:56 PM

See also: the guide by Alex Vermeer is fruitful for reviewing the past and planning the following years in an analytical and systematic way.

Summaries and reviews of books and articles are definitely welcome! And you can always just leave them on your personal blog, where you can post practically whatever you want.

Sweet! I look forward to learning w/the LW community over the next year.