You've spent the year honing your craft and learning how to be a better businessperson at the same time.
Before you go thinking about plans for the New Year, take some time to look back at all you have accomplished in the last twelve months.
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Let’s get this out of the way in case you're skeptical. There are at least 3 very good reasons for reviewing your year.
- Review your year to honor life.
To appreciate the breaths you were given. Our crazy mixed-up world wants you to keep looking ahead and doing more. I get caught up in it, too. And I always want more for my clients. Reviewing your year grounds you in the present.
- Review your year as a reminder of what you have accomplished.
It’s too tempting to look at the long list of what you want to do or what you have to do. Give yourself some grace for the work you have already done. This builds momentum and adds a deposit to your bank of hope.
- Review your year in preparation for future plans.
You want to understand what was good about your year, what was challenging, and what you might do differently in the upcoming months.
Living 52 Weeks of Your Life
The title comes from the fact that the average person on this planet has about 4000 weeks of life in them, and Burkeman drills it home that we don’t really appreciate the brevity of it all.
He writes, “ … we’ve been granted the mental capacities to make almost infinitely ambitious plans, yet practically no time at all to put them into action.”
Looking back on the year, I can’t help thinking that we lost 52 weeks.
It’s a dark place to go. To look at the time that was lost. That angle seems not just dark, but downright unhelpful.
Instead of thinking about time lost, let’s look at all that we have experienced. I think Burkeman would agree: How we LIVED the 52 weeks.
Your Life Is a Work of Art
Your life is a work of art—a composition made of decisions, experiences, and milestones rather than color, shape, line, and texture.
Like any composition, it requires a careful balance. A deliberate balance. Not balance in the way the all parts are equal. A quick aside, but very relevant … I don’t believe in assigning percentages to life areas in order to find “balance,” because I want to do more of what I love.
Gratefully, I love my work. I love helping artists discover their individual paths and identify the strategies that work for them.
And I love looking at good art. Lots of art. More art. I love reading about artists and watching art documentaries.
My life composition is heavily weighted toward art. I imagine yours is, too. Some might look at us and say we’re out of balance. We know better.
A balanced composition of your life means that it’s harmonious for you. You may not need or want weekly massages. Your 1 day at a spa each year might be like that little dot of red paint you might see in a Matisse painting. It’s all you need.
What are the parts of a harmonious life for you?
You must assess your year holistically.
In The Artist’s Annual Review, I provide 51 questions that encourage you to to look at your year holistically.
Again, you can get those prompts by following this yellow button:
It starts with personal stuff like happiness, travel, and hobbies.
Next I want you to think about the work you did in the studio and how it changed. Dig deep into your creative output and I’m certain you’ll have a few aha moments.
Then, because it’s vital to keep learning in order to grow, reflect on how you fed your brain. What did you learn and where or from whom did you learn it? If you teach, do a wrap-up of how your courses and workshops went.
Finally, you finish The Artist’s Annual Review with business and marketing. Go beyond the numbers and examine how you evolved as a business owner.
The reason I love my business is because I get to experiment. It’s a full-on creative act for me. I want you to see how you can apply creativity to your business, and that you’re probably already doing it more than you know. It makes it much more fun.
Like your art, your life is also informed by experiments. Some on purpose. Others quite by accident.
What do you discover?
Where is the magic?
What moves the needle?
This Year Isn't Over
It’s the time of year when we begin to eagerly anticipate exchanging calendars. The New Year is within our line of sight and we’re eager to start fresh.
You can correct me if I’m using the royal “we” mistakenly and I’m the only one tempted to jump ahead, but I don’t believe I’m alone. Who doesn’t love an opportunity to begin again?
The holidays, and all that they entail, remind us that the current year isn’t quite done with us. We need to be present for all the days ahead. To, as I said earlier, honor life and the breaths you are given because nothing is certain about the future.
To stay present in this year, reflect on the past 365 days and remember what made this trip around the sun different from other years.
As long as you’re reflecting and remembering, I hope that you also record.
Your written account of the year will be something you can return to in the future as a reminder of what you accomplished, what you experienced, what you learned, who and what you encountered, and more.
Your annual review is just for you. Nobody else should read it or will, likely, want to read it. Unless you turn it into a work of art, which, of course, you absolutely can.
Did you catch all my r-e words?
- Reflect on your experiences.
- Remember what you accomplished and encountered.
- Record your reflections and memories.
- Return to your record in the future when you want to …
- Remind yourself of how full the year was for you.
All wrapped up in your annual review. (See what I did there? )
Now Let's Add a P
Your annual review will also, when you’re ready, help you prepare for the New Year.
You can’t help making wiser decisions after taking stock of the past. Wiser in the sense that they are better for you and the vision you have of a balanced life—whatever balance means to you.
I mentioned Four Thousand Weeks in the beginning of this post. This book has affected how I want to work and how I want to help my clients.
Through my programs, coaching, and consulting, I want you to make the most of your 365 days a year—however you want to spend it.
I’ll tell you more about changes in my business in upcoming episodes of The Art Biz, so be sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts. (And please do leave a review if you enjoy The Art Biz.)
In the meantime, your action is to start working on your annual review. Those 54 questions are waiting for you in The Artist’s Annual Review. It’s a process that will take you at least a couple of hours, so I suggest blocking out time and doing a one section a day.
I also suggest a ritual around the process—one that you should customize for yourself, but you’ll see my recommendations.
If you are so inclined, I hope you take photos of your annual review ritual and, if further inclined, share on social media. Tag me on Instagram <@alysonstanfield> or Facebook <@Art Biz Success>. I’d love to see them.
This was originally published in 2016 and 2017 and has been updated so much that it doesn't even resemble its earlier self.😆 The podcast episode was recorded in 2022. Original comments have been left intact and reference The See Plan.