Approaching year-end is like reaching the last few pages of an excellent book; there’s that bittersweet feeling where you’re excited to see how it ends but also sad that it’s almost over. That’s where we are in 2023—it just so happens that this is also the perfect time to reflect, learn, and plan.

Like any other, this year was a mix of ups and downs for me. Sure, I had my share of wins, but there were also those moments when things didn’t go as planned. It’s like hiking; sometimes we climb steep hills that leave us proud and a bit out of breath; other times we must jump from stone to stone to get across rushing rivers, hoping not to fall in. But hey, that’s life, right? A combination of good days and not-so-good days, a mixture of successes and failures. What matters is that we keep moving forward, learning, and growing.

So, as we start to say goodbye to 2023, let’s take all those experiences, learn from them, and use them to make 2024 even better. Looking back to embrace and learn from important lessons is necessary before we can move forward and construct an expanded and better future.

To help in this process, I will break down my year-end review. While it would be all too easy to just share my successes with you, who would that help? It’s far more beneficial to see reality, not some overly produced facsimile. Besides, we get far too much curated “reality” on social media and in popular culture. It’s far more valuable for me to be honest about what went well and where I fell short. The reality is that nobody’s perfect; pretending otherwise is harmful.

The Year-End Review 

Without further delay, here’s a brief year-end review of what 2023 looked like for me—the good, the bad, and the ugly—followed by how I’m preparing for 2024.

What Went Well This Year

  1. Business Growth: My business has scaled new heights for the sixth consecutive year, and our client list now includes several of the world’s most successful companies. This progress is a testament to my team’s unwavering dedication, commitment, and talent.
  2. Literary Success: Not only did my second book reach store shelves, but it became a national and Wall Street Journal bestseller. I also completed and submitted the manuscript for my third book, which is on track for a 2024 release.
  3. Refining Excellence: As a keynote speaker, I’ve refined my craft for 12 years, which resulted in this year’s speeches being among my finest. I had the opportunity to speak at a prestigious event in Singapore. As I addressed the massive 10,000-person audience, an incredible sense of peace washed over me, reaffirming that this is my calling.
  4. Physical Well-Being: My commitment to exercising five days a week has become a pillar of strength. This routine not only enhanced my physical fitness but also played a crucial role in reducing stress and improving my overall mental clarity.

Where I Fell Short (…and how I’m going to fix it in 2024)

Sleep Deprivation: Not only did I fail to prioritize getting seven hours of sleep each night, but 2023 is my worst sleep optimization year since I started tracking it. Sleep is paramount to our overall health, which is why I must make progress in this area.

  • Plan for 2024: Set and maintain a strict sleep schedule using a combination of technology (phone or smart watch), a sleep journal, and a support system. Part of my plan includes asking my wife to help me remain accountable.

Personal Connections: I struggled to nurture and prioritize personal relationships.

  • Plan for 2024: I will schedule time daily to foster relationships with those I care about. Sometimes, this will be by phone or text; other times, it’ll be spending time in person.

Weight Management: I lost weight earlier in the year but regained it a few months later.

  • Plan for 2024: Since I regained weight while traveling for work, I must be deliberate about what I eat while on the road. Along with making healthier choices when eating out, I must also be proactive about only staying at hotels with fitness centers.

Lack of Rest: I took minimal time off throughout the year and experienced constant overstimulation.

  • Plan for 2024: Many of my shortcomings in 2023 were the result of neglecting rest. This year helped me recognize the need for rest and recovery. I’ll plan my time off in advance to prevent obligations at work from consuming it. In addition, I will limit my screen time, especially at home, to avoid the harmful effects of overstimulation.

Preparing for the New Year

Following this year-end process, I shift my focus to planning and laying out a roadmap for the coming year. But rather than making some empty resolution that’s forgotten by February, I follow these eight steps:

  1. Year-End Reflection: I devote two weeks to introspection and planning at the end of each year. This practice helps me set the stage for a purposeful year ahead.
  2. Eulogy Review: I’ve previously discussed the importance of writing and updating your eulogy. I revisit mine in late December to ensure my actions align with my desired legacy.
  3. Calendar Analysis: Reviewing my calendar to assess how I spent my time over the past year offers incredible insight that helps with time management and goal optimization.
  4. Set a Theme: This is when I choose a theme or mantra that’ll serve as my North Star for the year ahead.
  5. Vision Crafting: Creating a compelling vision for the priorities in my life helps me identify any crossover and balance what’s most important.
  6. Goal Setting: Defining clear, achievable goals for the year allows me to plan the path to success. In addition, setting a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) is a catalyst that propels my other goals forward.
  7. Action Mapping: Outlining the specific actions, behaviors, and mindset required to reach my goal allows me to transform my visions into reality.
  8. Habit Assessment: Identifying high-performance habits to adopt and negative ones to shed paves the way for me to experience continuous growth throughout the year.

Hope and Determination

If 2023 is like the bittersweet ending of a great book, then 2024 represents the crisp blank pages of a book we’ve yet to write. Empty but overflowing with possibility. As we enter the new year, let’s remember the lessons we’ve learned, the victories we’ve celebrated, and the challenges we’ve faced. Find a year-end review process that works best for you. The most important thing is to set aside some time before the new year to truly reflect, review, and capture the learning lessons for future growth opportunities.

We must recognize that it’s not always about taking giant leaps; often, the small steps have the greatest impact. They add up, slowly but surely moving us closer to where we want to be. Whether focusing on a healthier lifestyle, strengthening relationships, or achieving professional goals, we must approach the new year with hope and determination.

Above all, let’s make 2024 the year we find joy in the simple, everyday moments that make life truly magical.