Creating Your Annual Review: Beautiful Lessons From 2016

Annual Review

Three or four years ago I was inspired by Chris Guillebeau (the guy who went to every country in the world before he was 35) to create my first annual review. Because I know that everything is connected, instead of focusing on just my business I decided to make mine holistic.

I’ve been doing theses reviews every year since, and I find them to be super helpful in seeing how much I’ve grown, what is working in my life, and what needs to change.

I use The Desire Map planner throughout the year which makes this super easy for me to reflect once the year’s up. I go back to the beginning of each month where I’ve already written my intentions for the month. Part of my practice is to mark down what has been accomplished once the month is complete so I have a clear view of what I intended and what actually manifested.  

I have a daily planner so I was also able to flip through the pages and see what I was grateful for, what I felt I needed to work on, and what I was actually spending my time doing.

Below I’m going to share with you what I learned from my review, how it’s influencing my intentions for 2017, and how you can create your own review.

It also doesn’t matter if it’s not January when you happen to be reading this. You can do a review any time of the year and go back as far as you like. It’s an awesome way to step back and get clarity on your life.

My 2016 Annual Review

It’s incredible how loose our memories are. We recreate a perception of our life based on what comes after and apply it to what came before. I went through a blindsiding breakup at the end of February of 2016. I’ve been getting sick of hearing myself say blindsiding and have tried to stop using it when I refer to the split. 

As I looked back at my gratitude notes from January and February I was a little stunned by how good things were. Day after day I wrote down things like:

I’m so grateful for my partner because he reminds me how sweet life is.
I’m so grateful for this man because he makes me feel safe and loved.
I’m so grateful for the feeling of connection when we stare into each others eyes, smiling, over oysters. 

These writings go on and on until two days before we break up. I could have sworn that oyster memory was from months prior. My mind was actually starting to believe that maybe things weren't actually as good as I thought they were. Maybe they were starting to get rocky, and I just wasn’t remembering clearly. But, no. I was actually blindsided.

So I started out 2016 totally in love and grateful. By March 1st my heart was shattered. I fell into the deepest depression of my life. I had to give up my beautiful dog. By summer I felt like my life had fallen apart. 

It kind of did, and it was probably the most important year of my life so far.

As I looked at the people I spent my time with, the things I chose to do, the healing I committed myself to, and the things that crumbled away in 2016 I realized that this year was clearing me out to connect to myself more fully than I ever have before. This year was not just about my healing, but it was also about my rediscovery. 2016 was a year where I did a lot of things because I had to do them.

My soul required me to do them. I had to learn to show up for myself in a way I never have before. It’s given me true courage.

As my heart was breaking I had to keep showing up. I lead Breathwork circles in Los Angeles, Philadephia, New York City, and online. When I had no idea how I could possibly get out of bed and show up for other people I did. Supporting other people in their healing was a huge symbol of how I was showing up for myself.

My grief pulled down the curtains, and I allowed myself to be raw with the world. It felt like I had no other choice. People resonated, and Pushing Beauty grew. There was not much clear intention around my business this year. I only knew that I needed to keep showing up for myself and keep holding space for others. It was what I needed.

It amazes me to see that I traveled 10 out of 12 months last year because I feel like I didn’t travel enough! I think that’s just the nature of an adventurous heart. It never feels like enough.

This is also the beauty of an annual review. We get to see all that we’ve really accomplished. 

2016 Annual Review Highlights

Trusting The Obstacles
There are obstacles that show up in our lives that end up guiding us to exactly what we need. These are the times we need to trust, and I see that so clearly now. In 2015 I had a very stressful living situation and felt I had no other choice but to move out. A little dream studio fell into my lap, and I made the leap into my own space (ahem, and I doubled my rent in doing so). 

Having this little home saved me this year. It was my place of restoration. It held me for months on end as I grieved. It become a safe place to heal myself and to help others heal. When I was going through the process of dealing with my former living situation I was fighting it. The lesson here is to trust and allow.

The obstacles are showing up for you.

Letting Yourself Crumble
I have never been more heartbroken in my life than I was this year. It wasn’t just the loss of this man that left me devastated, but it was how he left. Being given no warning or faith in working things out left me questioning who I am. How could I not have seen? How could I chosen this person? How awful must I be to deserve being left so abruptly?

Breakups are hard enough as it is. Usually, though, you can look at them and say it was for the best. We weren’t getting along. We weren’t really a good fit. We tried our best but it just wasn’t working.

Blindsiding breakups leave you questioning who you are. So in 2016 I let myself question everything. I went to the bottom, hung out there for a while, and eventually made my way out. Yes, there are battle scars, and I’m so thankful for them.

Again, life shows up for us even when we think it’s not. This breakup was my gift in 2016.

Letting It All Clear Out
After my ex left I got my beautiful, love-bug dog, Kona, back from the trainer. For those of you who don’t know he jumped through a second story glass window in July of 2015, developed severe PTSD, and couldn’t be left alone. I did everything humanly possibly (no exaggeration) to keep this pup living with me here in Los Angeles.

Nothing worked. Everyone told me to put him down, and then my family came to the rescue. In July 2016, a year after he almost killed himself, I drove Kona cross country to go live with my family in New Jersey where he is now happily living with tons of love.

The more I try to control things the more I suffer. I have a habit of holding on too long and too tight.

A beautiful lesson from 2016 is to trust that when it’s not working it’s time to let it go.

I Have All The Support I Need
I have a big, loving, messy family. They all live on the East Coast. Since I came to live in Los Angeles five years ago there has been a part of me that has felt like I’m not supported. One of the things that made my breakup so heartbreaking for me was that I really loved my ex’s parents and felt like I finally had family on the West Coast. 

Reflecting on 2016 I see clearly that I truly have all the support I need. I created a beautiful group of female friends who have helped inspire, ground, and support me. I traveled back to the East Coast 5 times this year (I didn’t pay for one flight! More on that in future posts.), and I got to spend a lot of quality time with my family which now includes a brand new nephew. 

The lesson in this for me is that I have always been supported. I have always prioritized relationships. I am super duper close with my family, and I have so many beautiful friends old and new who help make my life feel so full. In the moments when I have felt like it wasn’t enough were moments when I was connected to the false belief that I don’t belong anywhere.

In those moments I just needed to connect to myself instead of making a problem where there wasn’t one.

Using My 2016 Annual Review for 2017 Intentions

Once I took the time to reflect and learn from 2016 I was so ready to start creating intentions for 2017. I had spent four days in the Sandia Crest Mountains in New Mexico on retreat so I already put it some work here.

My big word for 2017 is Trust. It came to be after my Breathwork session, and I used it in my fire walk on retreat. It felt like the perfect word then, and it feels even more perfect after reviewing 2016. 

I want 2017 to feel like radical trust.

I am committing to trusting that every single thing that has happened in my life up to now has been a gift for me. While 2016 was about climbing up the mountain 2017 is about being on top. 

I am choosing, this year, to stand in my full power. I’ve recently gotten into using The Wild Unknown’s Animal Sprit deck so I did a spread for the year. I pulled one card for each month and wrote down the message for each in my Desire Map Planner. 

The Eagle is the card that showed up for me to represent the theme for my year. It feels so good. The Eagle is a sign that it’s time to step into the unknown (a.k.a. TRUST!). The Eagle is here to push us to be our best and brightest selves and stops at nothing to see us shine. 

Woo! So ready for this year.

How To Create Your Own Annual Review

Ok, now it’s your turn. The easiest way to reflect on your year is if you have something you can look back on like a journal, planner, or social media feed. These things really help jog our memory to to moments that we can so easily forget. 

Here are some steps:

  • Create a sacred space where you won’t be interrupted, and you can really dedicate the time and energy to reflecting on the year and opening up to the possibilities of this year. This is a big one because it can be emotional to reflect on some of the pain points from last year, but remember that there will also be nuggets of beauty that will surprise you along the way.
  • Have all your resources in front of you. Anything that will help you jog your memory about what went down that month will be helpful. 
  • Work by month, and don’t get too caught up in the details. This can end up being a little like opening up old photo albums. You can get sucked in for hours. Try to keep it fluctuating between macro and micro. When you get too caught in the details pull yourself back out.
  • Look for themes. Pay attention to patterns of behavior that you are still holding on to. For example, I noticed I was writing a lot about releasing residual fear around money this time last year, and it’s still lingering so there is some major work I need to do around that ASAP. 
  • Connect your actions to your emotions. Remember how doing certain things made you feel. Take note. You’ll want to stop doing some of those things or do more of others in 2017 based on that information.

I like to consider the following:

  • Big events like
    • Beginning or ending of relationships of any kind
    • Death & Birth
    • Moving
    • Starting something new
    • Doing something scary
  • How was I showing up for myself?
  • Who was I spending time with?
  • How much money I made
  • What things I was doing to nourish my soul
  • Books I was reading
  • What was I doing to move my body and how often?
  • How did each of these things make me feel?

Setting Intentions for 2017

My favorite process for getting clear is The Desire Map. It’s the best tool for delving deep into how you truly want to feel in your life. I pair this practice with Breathwork which helps us clear out stuck energy and connect to our intuition. Going into The Desire Map process after Breathwork is the best way to take a nose dive into what it is you truly want in your life.

You can use The Desire Map book on your own. I also do one-on-one guided support integrating Breathwork and The Desire Map process. At the end of our time together you’ll be ready to set clear goals or intentions for the year with complete clarity. Just email or head over to the contact page.

Download my tips and printable sheets for creating your Annual Review here.

Once you've completed your annual review let me know what you discovered in the comments below.

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Free Annual Review Guide