My annual birthday review

I started doing a review of my year that was a few years ago. This typically happens on the first free weeknight after my birthday.

I make a cup of tea, grab my bullet journal and sit down at my desk to do some actual writing.

It’s actually not important how you do it; just that you do.

I prefer to write so that I’m not distracted by the internet, notifications, etc. but if you don’t have that problem, by all means just type out your answer.

An aside – there’s no magic time to do a life review; I just happen to think my birthday’s a good time to take stock, but you can do it tonight! Tomorrow! This weekend 🙂

Here’s a post I wrote about this before.

Me, at 43

Again, here are some of the questions I used this time, but listen to your heart and write the questions you feel you need to explore. If you don’t have a clue where to start, start with these questions:

  1. what worked well for me this year?
  2. what didn’t work well?
  3. what do I need to stop doing?
  4. are there any relationships I need to let go of?
  5. how am I living out my word of the year? do I need to choose a new word?
  6. how am I living out my values?
  7. what do I want to focus on in the year ahead?
  8. what am I grateful for?
  9. how do I want to feel this next year?
  10. what do I want to give myself this next year?

A few notes from my birthday review:

  1. I’m very happy with my current work rhythms because I mostly feel on top of things.
  2. Some of my biggest joys this year were from learning my enneagram number and taking the Discovering You and Exploring you courses with Your Enneagram Coach, and from doing the Four Tendencies deep dive course with Gretchen Rubin.
  3. I’m happy tending to my current friendships while leaving enough space for spontaneity.
  4. We’ve had three amazing family holidays this year.
  5. I read 111 books from one birthday to the next 😉
  6. I’ve chosen to let go of situations that I normally wouldn’t, because it just didn’t feel worth it any more.

And now I’m ready to tackle 44!

Have you done a birthday or life review lately? What were some of your highlights/ insights?

Lovely things to do this year

I have some routines I like to do around my birthday every year which I thought I’d talk about and link to, so that you can be reminded to do them too, if you’re so inclined.

If your birthday’s at a completely different time of year, put a link to this post in your calendar, a week or so before or after your birthday.

If you’re reading on a mobile device like an iphone, tap the square with an arrow pointing up, copy and paste the link into your calendar.

Here’s my annual birthday routine:

1. Organise a celebration. I believe that every year on this earth is a blessing so I like to celebrate my birthday every year.

2. Do a birthday review. This year I changed one or two questions but the main 4 questions are the same as my monthly review: what worked well, what didn’t work well, what did I learn, what do I need to let go of?

As a reader mentioned in the comments last year, it is a brave thing to do, to face up to things may not have consciously considered, but it’s always good to take an honest assessment of things. If you need some hand holding as you do this work, please book a coaching session with me.

3. Make a list of lovely things to do this year. This is purely a fun list 🙂

I put things on this list like books I’ve always wanted to read, restaurants to try, fun things to do like take a photowalk with a friend to take photos of the jacarandas, things I want to do with Dion or the kids, and recipes I’ve wanted to try.

So far on my list I have to (finally) buy new frames because I’ve had my current frames for about 3 – 4 years (lenses have changed, but I kept the frames).

I also have some fun books I want to read, and I think I finally need to read the Total Money Makeover. I also want to listen to Andre Agassi’s Open.

Keep checking my Instagram because I’ll be sure to post my list when it’s done.

I have a friend who schedules a massage on her birthday, another who always takes a day’s leave to “think about her life” and still another who books all her appointments like gynae, eyes, mammogram in her birthday month. Fun, thoughtful and practical.

Please tell me about your birthday rituals and if you’re not signed up to my list yet, please do so if you want the free “lovely things to do this year” printable. My next newsletter goes out on Tuesday 15th.

Have you done your annual birthday review yet?

How to do an annual birthday review

Birthday reviews are a little harder to do than the standard annual, end-of-year reviews, but only because it’s no-one else’s birthday but your own, and there’s no end-of-year madness to pull you along.

However, I’d almost venture to say they’re even more important to do because this is a review that’s completely focussed on you, to be done in your own time.


Create mental and physical space

I like to dedicate an entire evening to this practice. It won’t need an entire evening but it’s nice to not feel like you need to rush because of other things.

I make a mug of tea and assemble my favourite notebook for these purposes (Piccadilly) and all my favourite pens.

Review the year that’s just passed

Some questions you may want to ask are:

  1. what went well?
  2. what didn’t go well?
  3. what do I want to keep doing?
  4. what will I stop doing?
  5. what do I want for this next year?

Do a version of the core desired feelings

You are aiming at answering the question, “how do I want to feel over this next year of my life?”

Think about all the categories like body, mind, spirit, relationships, work, etc.

If you want, ask God for a scripture

Mine is John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled 🙂

birthday review

You can make it even more complicated than that, but I prefer not to, so that it actually gets done 🙂

Have you done a birthday review recently? What was the most interesting insight?

If you would like coaching through your own birthday review, please email me to book your 30 or 60-minute session.

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