Why I Write A "Year In Review"

The irony of this post: I'm writing about why I like to write a year in review post instead of writing a year in review post. Don't worry fans, it'll come before February 1.

I've started putting together my 2021-in-review article, and while doing so I've been thinking about why I think it's so important. Year in review posts force me to look back through time and see all the things I did that year. Every time I write a year in review, I remember pretty clearly how I felt the last couple months of the year. But I kind of forget what I did or how I felt the 10 months before that. This recency bias is especially problematic because winter in Wisconsin suuuuuckkkksss, and I suffer annually from Seasonal Affective Disorder, so the last month+ of the year almost always feels depressing.

My process for writing a year-in-review looks like this:

  1. Read my previous year-in-review.
  2. Look back through Twitter, my calendar, and my notes to refresh my memory on what I did this year.
  3. Keep track of the most interesting and significant things I did this year.
  4. Try to find threads and stories in the most significant things I did this year.
  5. Process this all and think about things I'd like to differently in the next year.

I don't really believe in "new year resolutions" — I don't really need a way to codify making myself feel bad about not meeting goals, I do that plenty well on my own. I also think big goals are meaningless without introducing systems to foster those goals, and resolutions seem pie-in-the-sky without systems. I guess that's probably subjective, and comes down to how you implement resolutions.

I do believe very much in self-reflection. I'm maybe pretty old for not fully understanding my emotions or being able to describe them or identify triggers for them. But writing a year-in-review post helps me with all of that — and understanding those things helps me better make decisions and design systems for myself.