Learn to lead in times of crisis. Join our three day leadership summit. Click here.
Home About Tom DISC Training Board Training Contact Us Store Blog School Improvement Programs COVID-19 School Leader Resource Document Login

An Easy, Simple and Fun Process to Plan Your Best Year Ever!


Hey leaders, Dr. Tom Miller here and I want to share with you something I believe is critically important to your short and long term success.

Time has a wonderful way of demonstrating to us what matters.

Best selling author John Maxwell teaches a "Year in Review" process that I have  been implementing over the past four years to double my income but work less days. Travel to different parts of the world, reduce personal debt so I could increase retirement contributions, and improve my personal health (40 lbs. weight loss) as well as lowered cholesterol.  

You see, John believes that it is not experience that will determine your growth and success, it’s evaluative experience.

Without evaluative experience I am basically doing the same thing over and over, but expecting a different result. That’s the definition of insanity. 

As the days on the calendar end for 2019, it’s critical to look over the last year and determine:

What made this year unforgettable? What did I enjoy? How can I do more of it? 

What needs more of my time and focus for improvement?

What was my biggest regret for the year? What stopped me? How do I eliminate that barrier or belief?

What or who needs to be eliminated from my 2020 calendar?

Maybe most importantly, how far can I go over the next 366 days (leap year)? 

It is not a hard process for you to follow and I guarantee you’re going to learn so much about yourself, your time and your priorities. 

And best of all, you’re going to provide you incredible insight to make those necessary tweaks that will impact your gains and growth in the coming year! 

John Maxwell likes to keep everything pretty simple. He focuses on three key areas in your life that you can look back on to determine where you grew, where you need to grow, and how you can capitalize on both. They are Relationships, Responsibilities and Returns. 

RELATIONSHIPS: Which relationships are helping you grow? Which ones are not? What new relationships brought joy and value to your life this year? Am I making anyone a priority in my life while they make me an option in theirs? 

Determine how you can learn from this year’s relationship choices to be more successful and healthy in the coming year. Sometimes your answers can be quite surprising. 

RESPONSIBILITIES: Technically, you are responsible for many things at work and home, but you are not required to do them all. Ask yourself: Am I doing the right things? Are there things I am doing that are not required of me or could I hire someone to do for me? How can you decide which responsibilities are truly yours versus things you do out of guilt or fear? And what might happen if you choose to be responsible for those things that only you can and should do? 

Learning from how you spent your time and effort this year will help you better position yourself to make the most of the opportunities you take and the commitments you make next year. 

RETURNS: Of all the reflecting you can do on your year, this one most reveals how much you’ve grown over the past 12 months. What’s one thing I changed about myself? Where did I spend my time and with who? What outcomes did these choices produce? Are they taking me closer or farther away from my goals? Did those outcomes satisfy you? If not, what outcome would have been more satisfying, and how can you chase that down? 

You see, the return you get for the choices you make can either keep you hungry and willing to move forward, or drain your energy and keep you stagnant. When you take the time to think about what gives you your best return, you will be better positioned to chase that return from day one.

What You Need to Get Started

Grab a legal pad, a pen or pencil any evidence of your life from the past year. The calendar you utilized to schedule your day or events. Access to your photos over the last year from your phone, your social media. If you really want to go deep, download your 2019 bank statements or budget to determine where you spent your money. 

Take your legal pad and at the top, write down what you believe are your top priorities (no more than five). These can be personal or professional. Then, draw a line down the middle giving yourself two columns. The left side is for writing out the positives, the right side is for anything that didn’t align with your priorities, fill your heart or absorbed energy, time or money. 

Start with your calendar and review each day for the year. I look at the scheduled events, trips, appointments, meetings for every day in my calendar and evaluate it. 

  • What was the main thing I scheduled that day?
  • What turned out to be the main thing that day? 
  • What deserved more of my time (preparation or more focus)?
  • What deserved less?

I then repeat this process with my photos. Looking through my photos reinforces the three R’s I shared earlier. I took over 1,000 photos last year. Most were pictures of our trips or time with my family. 

Inspection is the foundation of expectation.

Each year I have been doing this I have learned some crucial lessons, like activity isn’t necessarily accomplishment. Time is our most precious resource. It is the ONLY way in which we are all equal. I need to be relentless with who I choose to spend my time with and what I am doing. 

My growth and overall improvement is not automatic. Just because I am working and doing doesn’t mean that I am growing. If I want to climb to the top of that hill, I need to eliminate my downhill habits. 

Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines practiced every day.

This means being relentless with your time and intentionally scheduling thinking and reflection days at least once a month to capture my learning, assess where am getting the greatest returns from the relationships you are growing and developing. 

Others can stop you temporarily but only you can stop you permanently.

When you are finished with your reflection you’ll have a few pages of notes. Read through these notes and prioritize the changes you aim to make by asking yourself: 

What must be changed? 

What needs more focus and energy? 

Who do I need help from? 

Who is a good role model or mentor for me to accelerate my growth?

What training or books can I read to grow in this area?

Having more knowledge about your current reality is important, but it doesn’t change anything.  

You must be willing to do something about your reality. Be intentional with your schedule. Start scheduling things (training, reflection, new experiences), find a mentor to learn from (books are great mentors) and follow the advice. 


It all starts with intentional action. So get started today!

This blog was written by Dr. Tom Miller, an Executive Director of the John Maxwell Team and owner of Leaders Building Leaders. If you found this post helpful please share it with a colleague or friend. If you have a comment or want to add to this post, please do!

If you are looking for daily inspiration, tools and resources to have your best year ever, sign up for our daily thoughts email below. 

Join Our Daily Thought List!

Get daily inspirational messages and updates on our events and programs.


Want to receive positive daily thought messages and transformational leadership content? Fill out the form below and begin receiving our best content tomorrow.  

50% Complete