I’ve shared a bit on Instagram about the end-of-year discussion that Justin and I have but I’ve never typed up anything formal about it because we adjust it on an annual basis based on whatever that previous year held. In general, there is a loose outline that we follow that we’ve developed over time (you can find that below).
The point of this conversation is to set aside time for some big picture planning, end of year reflection, and goal setting for ourselves personally and within our marriage. I genuinely look forward to it every year. In the past, we’ve looped it into a trip, like when we went to Lake Tahoe, but sometimes it’s just something we do on a Saturday morning over breakfast if we have childcare available.
I’m sure this goes without saying, but this isn’t the only time that we discuss the topics listed below. We are always in discussion about these things, the point of this “end of year” discussion is to re-align after the business of the holidays, and set up for success in the new year.
I’ll share a few of the general topics that we cover below, and examples of questions we ask, but I’d encourage you to tailor this to whatever your life, marriage, or family may look like.
Categories: As Individuals, As a Couple, As Parents
Topics: Work, Social Life, Spiritual Life/Church, Serving, Finances, Events/Travel, Parenting, Alone time
For each category, we discuss the topics I’ve listed above. We share what we hope to do or want to do for the following year. We also address whether it worked in the current year. We each share our own thoughts and discuss how we can support each other based on whatever we decide. This conversation is not so much about planning action steps to set up new rhythms or routines, but more of a reflection and thoughtful time to evaluate our life at this time.
Afterward, we usually continue the conversation by discussing what changes or adjustments we would make based on what we discovered from discussing the topics.
I realize this may sound a bit abstract, and it kind of is, but I thought it would be helpful to provide a loose example below.
How would you describe your work experience from the past year? What were some significant accomplishments? What were some disappointments or failures? What are you most proud of? What could you have done better? How was work/life balance? What are you hoping to achieve and avoid this upcoming year?
How is your spiritual life? What is contributing to your growth/knowledge? What are you lacking? What can you do to change or improve your spiritual life for the following year?
Where are you serving and giving back? Is there an organization you want to focus on this year? Where/how else can you be serving?
Is there any travel you want to do next year? Are there events you want to attend or be a part of?
What were some moments of success with parenting from the year prior? What are you hoping to do better this year? What do you wish you did more of with the kids and how can we make that happen?
What are your hobbies? Are you creatively fulfilled? What would you like to see for your free time next year?
So we go through each topic as individuals, as a couple, and as parents. Our answers differ dramatically on some topics, but also align well on others.
While these types of conversations don’t need to wait until the end of the year and can (and should!) happen more often than just one time a year, it’s helpful to plan on doing a deep dive at a certain point so we can be sure that the other person is also thinking intently about the topics that we always cover.