My Annual Process for Personal Growth

As I finish my 2022 Year in Review, I want to share my process I developed over the years to stay focused. This is my step-by-step process on how I journal throughout the year so you can take advantage of this powerful tool in your life.

I have journaled in some way or another most of my life. I was first inspired by watching Doogie Howser, M.D. as a child. However, my journaling was never a consistent part of my life until the last few years. I would have periods where I would journal for months at a time and then give it up. I tried a bunch of methods to become more consistent such as using a computer (like Doogie), trying different fancy paper journals and even apps that claim to help you do it in 5 minutes. The most consistent I got was for many years I would just jot down things I wanted to remember or work through in apple notes and eventually the Evernote app.

That all changed when I learned and adopted the end of the year review discipline from my good friend Doug Smith. After completing a few years of year end reviews, which is one of the most life changing disciplines I have ever experienced, it became apparent I needed a better way to track my year. It was apparent I needed to start keeping a daily journal.

I have worked since 2015 to hone this skill as I learned what worked and what didn’t work, as well as trying many different methods from other leaders. I have used these lessons to create my own unique technique of journaling that works for me and helps me capture what is going on in my life.

As I share with you my journaling process and how it came to be, one of the key takeaways is

there is not a right or wrong or a “proven” method to get you to journal.

Journaling is an extremely personal thing that the process should and does vary from person to person since God made us all unique.

The methods might change but the why behind journaling is the same.

It helps you to process what is going on in your life and understand what you have gone through so you can learn from the past and be intentional about your future.

A mentor of mine has told me “Greg you want to know the difference between a successful person and an unsuccessful person, the successful person made more mistakes.”

Although that is true, I believe there is more to it, that successful person learned from their mistakes.

Journaling is the best way to learn lessons from your life!

I have yet to meet what I would qualify as a highly successful person (someone that lives an intentional life and feels fulfillment) that does not have the practice of journaling in their life. I encourage you to try it for 30 days and if you have not seen a major change in your life then give it up. Try different methods until you find the one that works best for you. My method is never done evolving, I just made changes to it just 8 months ago to add daily soul check and stress numbers. In going through my process, you will see what parts you like and what works for you then you can create the process that works best for you. Lastly, I will walk you through why I do each part so you can decide what works best for you.

My Process


The Journal


It starts with selecting the type of journal. I use a blank paper journal, which this year I opted to move to a Remarkable paper tablet.

I changed to Remarkable because it gave me all the feel of paper and limited distractions (no email, internet search, or calendar) but also easy to carry years’ worth of journals with me instead of a bookbag full of journals.

Prior to the Remarkable I used the Gallery Leather Large Leather Journal (Ruled) – 9.75″ x 7.5″ in black custom with my name, the year and volume number (I use about 1 a quarter). I use this because a friend of mine bought me one and I liked it. I liked the aesthetics, the feel of the paper, the spacing of the lines. I also like the idea of having these on a bookshelf and if my children want to read about my life they can. I plan to print out the remarkable pages to do the same.

Why paper?


This was a fight for me. I used to be all electronic method (like Doogie). I loved using the Evernote App to search dates and key words to look back on my journals. However, there were several problems for me with this method.

The first was consistency. For example, if I missed three days, I would just journal on the 4th day and never go back and review the missed three days. With a paper journal that is blank I cannot bring myself to skip the days I missed and come back later because I would not have the room. (I have replicated this with the Remarkable templates I have built out). This became an even bigger problem with weekly and monthly reviews because if I missed them, I would never go back and do them. With paper, I need to go back and do them before I can journal about today.

The second was I needed to be in front of a computer to type out my notes. This made it hard to do on demand. It’s hard to sit on a laptop in bed or carry a laptop on a rainy hike.

Third and most importantly it made it hard to disconnect. Part of the beauty of journaling is giving your mind space to think freely. I had to be in front a computer and not think about checking email or looking up something on Wikipedia. It’s hard to take chunks of time with no distractions with a machine made of distractions.

Lastly, I have learned the act of writing out my thoughts on paper is more effective than typing out my thoughts. My thoughts process is smoother and I seem to go deeper and process a lot more. I am not sure why, but I know it’s a very apparent difference for me. It really helps when it comes to listing my goals and weekly routines I write out.

Why blank instead of a formatted or prompted journal?


I like the ability to change my journaling as I learn what works, when you use a formatted journal, you cannot make changes. For example, this year I added a daily soul check and stress check, this is not possible if you are limited on space. I have changed the things I track daily and with a formatted I can not do this. I know I will make tweaks this year because I am never done working on improving my process.

The other big problem for with a formatted journal is that it limits the amount of space to process. Somedays my journal entry is 4 sentences other days its 4 pages, I don’t want to constrain myself to the space allotted. If I want to work through something, then I should.

Picking out a journal you like and want to use will increase the likelihood of you journaling, but just getting started is the most important. Remember, you can always make tweaks and changes in the future.

Daily Journal Entries


This is the question I get most often about journaling, what do you write about? The short answer is whatever is on my mind. I have tried prompt questions and other methods that did not work. I do not like being told what to think (I am a textbook enneagram 8) and find that prompt questions do not allow me the space to let my mind wander and think deep. What I have settled on is starting with retracing my day.

As I go throughout the day, I write out my thoughts, any actions from my goals or habits, notes from people I have met with and insights I have learned from them. I write quotes and scriptures that have spoken to me. As I am going through my day, I try think about what I was grateful for. I try to be vulnerable, open and honest with myself so I can learn.

I will write down things that are bothering me or conversations I want to and/or need to have with someone. I will write down things I am doing that bother me, for example, not eating right or not exercising. I write down things that bother me from other people’s action to examine why it bothers me, examine if I do that to others and work to let it go. I write down questions for God. I will write down things I want to do in the future and why. Its my time to explore my mind. This is why I like a blank space, because I want to let me mind be free and see where it ends up.

As I write I put stars in the margin as I write to highlight areas I want to reflect on when writing my weekly review. These include

  • Markers/Notable Events
  • Gods Voice
  • Lessons
  • Quotes
  • Scriptures

In addition to writing out my thoughts, I do a daily soul check and stress level on a scale of 1-10. A soul check is a qualitive daily measure of how I feel. 1 would be depression and a cry for help whereas 10 would be one of the best days of my life.

Stress is how I am measuring the stress level I am feeling. 1 being no stress and 10 being I might have a breakdown.

Whatever you end up doing, explore different methods to find what works best for you but I encourage you to at least write whatever is one your mind, whatever you feel God is saying to you and where you are at with progress on who you want to be.

Here is a sample entry of a short day. You can see how I format with a star for God’s voice, a notable event, a quote, and a lesson. To be clear not all days have stars. This is also a shorter entry and a made-up entry to give you an idea. What it doesn’t showcase is me talking about something I am dealing with because that takes a few pages.

Weekly Reviews


Once a week, typically Sunday evening or Monday morning, I review my prior week (I do Monday-Sunday) and what has happened and where I am at. This has been the part that has taken me years to get right.

I have added and removed many different things over the years based on the intentional life I want to live. This is based on my vision and goals. You should tweak this to track the things you want to and need to track. This weekly review is the part of my process that takes the most time but is worth all the investment. I believe this is something you cannot afford to make part of your life. I have gleaned more value from this part of the process than any other.

It also should be noted that I track more things than this in the Evernote app like each week that includes where we go to church, vacations, time on our boat, how many times I use a club, how many times I have skied, books I have read along with a book report for each book and other things I want to know how often I do. These things are season or yearlong logs that help me evaluate those areas and create KPIs of my life to be more intentional. These will often still show up in my journal entries but I often want to access this data on demand on my phone.

In addition to my log, I use eMoney and YBAN app to track personal financial KPIs, the LifeCylce app, MyFitnessPal, Garmin, and Fitbit to track physical KPIs. These will often show up in the journal or are used to create information in my journal.

I start my weekly review directly below my Sunday journal entry (If I do it Sunday afternoon, I leave plenty of room for anything that might come up Sunday evening).

The areas I track are in order:
  • Markers / Notable Events – I include the date with a small explanation. These are any events that have happened that I want to remember. For example, my daughters first time skiing, PITT winning ACC championship, a disagreement with a friend or about a family trip. e.g. 12/05/2021 Trip to Charlotte with Jason and Pitt wins ACC
  • Ways God Spoke to Me – I try to spend alone time with God daily. I use a process I learned from my good friend, Andrew Reichert, that I will discuss in another blog. I will write down the date with a small explanation of how God spoke to me. Also, if I feel a theme for the week, I will include a small paragraph on what God is speaking to me about. I put the date and what I heard. e.g. 12/28 “Focus on the now, leave the future to me” visualized Jesus and I hiking up a mountain as we looked at the horizon or 12/27 “step by step.”
  • Things Working this Week – I list all the things I am doing well based on what I want to achieve and the life I want to live. These vary greatly from week to week and month to month.
  • Things Not Working – I list all the things I am doing poorly with based on what I want to achieve and the life I want to live. These vary greatly from week to week and month to month. Be honest here.
  • Lesson Learned – I include any lessons I have learned from life or mentors here. I may go several weeks without any entry, or some weeks have a lot. I still write the header out to remind me to do it.
  • Notable Quotes/Scriptures – I include any quotes I have read or heard as well as any scriptures that spoke to me this week. I may go several weeks without any entry, or some weeks have a lot. I still write the header out to remind me to do it.
  • Scores/ Tracker – This has changed a lot over the years. These are the KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) of my life. I score myself on a scaled of 1-7 for 7 days in a week. For example, if I exercise 5 times, I will give a 5. If I feel like my Faith was where I wanted to be every day, it would be a 7. This is gleaned from my daily entries. After filling these out I will compare to prior week and put an arrow up or down next to each on indicating if it’s trending up or down.
    • These are the leading indicator KPIs for my life
      • Leader – This is my #1 role in life. See for more.
      • Father – This is my # 2 role in life
      • Husband – This is my #3 role in life
      • Faith – How is my relationship with God?
      • Bible Reading – Have I read my daily assigned Bible reading?
      • Reading – Have I read from a book daily outside the Bible?
      • Mornings – Have I got up before 5:30 and done my daily routine?
      • Exercise – Have I worked out?
      • Eating Healthy – Have I eaten healthy 80% of the time and tracked it?
      • Going to Bed – Have I gone to be before 10 PM?
      • Finances – Have I been intentional with my financial resources?
      • Budget – Have I followed a budget or spent without looking at it?
      • Tracking Habits – I track many habits daily on the Habit Hub app, have I tracked them today and completed over 80%?
      • Journal – Have I journaled each day? I have not missed a day of journaling in several years, but I will sometimes get behind and journal several days later. When its not as fresh you do not get as good of results.
      • Prayers – Did I do all 5 categories (see below) and not felt rushed and prayed at least 3 times throughout the day?
      • Soul Check (this is an average from the daily numbers) – See above, on scale of 1-10
      • Stress (this is an average from the daily numbers) – See above, on scale of 1-10
  • Stats – These are the lagging KPIs in my life. I get these stats from my Fitbit and eMoney. These are the areas that matter to me based on my yearly goals. You will want to tweak these based on what you are trying to do. I believe these should be 7 or less. I also place the prior week’s results and a column for the difference. They have changed as my goals changed.
    • Resting HR
    • Steps
    • Weight
    • Savings
    • Debt
    • Sleep Time
    • Average Wake Up
  • Summary – This is a paragraph or several giving my thoughts on the week. When you have gone through the above exercises its amazing what you learn about that week.

Here is an example of what this would look like.

Monthly Reviews


All I do here is pick a sticky note on my 4 weekly reviews to act like a bookmark and then flip back and forth aggregating that data on monthly basis. The only part of the process that is different than my weekly review is for my scores/tracker part where I have to take out a piece of paper and do math. If I scored Leader as 7,5,6,7 I would have to add them up and divide by four giving me a 6.25.

Monthly Updated Daily Routines

I used to do these weekly for years and it became too much. Instead, I moved to write these out once a month during the monthly review which I did most of last year. Now that I use a remarkable, I only write this out once a year and sections that change like praying over 5 different clients each week, I erase only that part of the list and update it monthly while doing my monthly review.  If you are going to use a paper, I suggest only quarterly rewriting these. Although I may only rewrite these once a year, I then read them daily.

These include in order:

  1. Daily Prayers
    1. Praise/Adoration
    2. Gratitude/Thanksgiving
    3. Forgiveness of Sins/Confessions
    4. Petitions/Ask
    5. Intercessions/Prayers for others (includes the following sections in addition to my family, our country, our leaders, and organizations I support)
      1. Requests
      2. 5 Clients weekly
      3. My Team
      4. My L3 Mastermind Group
      5. My Advisor Mastermind Group
      6. My Truth at Work Group
      7. My Advisory Board
  1. Lord’s Prayer
  2. Ten Commandments
  3. Luther’s Morning Blessing
  4. Apostles’ Creed
  5. My personal Why
  6. My personal Mission Statement
  7. My personal core values
  8. My personal Vision
  9. My roles in life
  10. Affirmation Statements
  11. My family’s Why
  12. My family’s Mission Statement
  13. My family’s Core Values
  14. My family’s Goals
  15. My three activities I am focused on
  16. My Top Ten Goals
  17. Beratung Mission Statement
  18. Beratung Core Values
  19. Beratung Vision
  20. Beratung Why

I also have a copy of these in the Evernote app in case I don’t have my journal with me but prefer to do these without electronic distractions. I make sure I review the Evernote version monthly as well.

Mid-Year Review

This takes me a full day. I simply take the monthly reviews and aggregate them. I use Microsoft Word instead of a paper journal. This is because I like to reference these often, make copies for my wife and a few accountability partners. It also helps to just save the document as new one to use as the basis for my end of year review.

The biggest difference between this and the monthly reviews is doing this all-in-one day makes me reflect and assess where you are at. Once I am done with this, I review my goals year to date and course correct my plan of action.

This also helps me with my end of the year process to have a lot of the work done.

For 4 years I have booked this full day on my calendar during my year end review process, to give me the space to go through this process and ensure that I completed it.

The past two years I have taken it a step further and booked a cabin in the woods to do this process. I find this helps me get the most out of this time. First, the act of going into the woods reduces the chances others will try to interrupt me as I do this important work. Second, being in the woods puts me in a great mindset, there is something that just puts my soul at peace. Third, having to drive and prepare to bring stuff forces me into a different mindset. Lastly, taking the time away from my family, my business and spending money forces me to be extremely productive and stay focused.

This is my year end review process that is part of my entire annual process for personal growth. I have spent 8 years tweaking this process to get it to where I am now (including a few this year), and I will continue to make tweaks in the future.

I take two full days in the woods to do this. I highly encourage you to take at least two full days and do this in one setting. You do not need to do it in the woods, but I find being in nature and alone is like adding gasoline to a fire for this habit. I also have added the act of jumping in a cold lake to start the day, but a 15 second cold shower will work.

I use the week between Christmas and New year’s.  This fits into the yearly rhythms and prepares me to be ready for the new year.

The general process follows this pattern:

  1. Data Collection (I do this by journaling all year and my logs. This is collected prior to leaving)
  2. Data Review (I do this in part before but mainly this is done filling out the report. The act of reading through all the source documents)
  3. Data Assessment (This is done in writing the summary, highlights, and goal review. What does the data mean?)
  4. Reflection (This is done throughout the entire time but mainly in writing the summary, reviewing the finished report, and during hikes)
  5. Plan (Use what you have reviewed to create new goals, yearly calendar and focus for year)

Preparing for the review


Before I leave for my two days I prepare by:

  • Taking my midyear review and adding to my yearend review template
  • Print my calendar for the year
  • Gather my journals from the year
  • Speak to my wife about the year
  • Review Instagram for highlights
  • Create an agenda
  • Print my previous year end reviews
  • Print my previous year goal review and the current year goals
  • Print reports from my company and other goals that I need to have the information to review
  • Copy my logs mentioned above from Evernote into my year in review document which includes
    • Church Attendance
    • Boating
    • Skiing
    • Trips
    • Deep Creek Lake
    • Club Leaf and Bean visits
    • Shooting
    • Books I Read

My Two-Day Agenda

 Day 1Day 2Day 3
6:00 AMWake Jump in the lakeWake Jump in the lakeWake Jump in the lake
6:30 AMShowerShowerShower
7:00 AMBreakfast/coffeeBreakfast/coffeeBreakfast/coffee
7:30 AMPrayersPrayersPrayers
8:00 AMJournal/Time with GodJournal/Time with GodJournal/Time with God
8:30 AMHike Time with GodHike Time with GodHike Time with God
9:00 AMHike Time with GodHike Time with GodHike Time with God
9:30 AMStart End of Year Report Marker/Notable eventsRead through EOY ReportPack/Car
10:00 AMStart End of Year Report Marker/Notable eventsRead through EOY ReportPack/Car
10:30 AMStart End of Year Report Marker/Notable eventsGoals ReviewDrive Home Listen to Audio Book
11:00 AMStart End of Year Report Marker/Notable eventsGoals ReviewDrive Home Listen to Audio Book
11:30 AMYear End Report Time with GodGoals ReviewDrive Home Listen to Audio Book
12:00 PMYear End Report Time with GodWrite out new GoalsDrive Home Listen to Audio Book
12:30 PMYear End Report Time with GodWrite out new Goals 
1:00 PMYear End Report LessonsWrite out new Goals 
1:30 PMLunch/ RelaxLunch/ Relax 
2:00 PMLunch/ RelaxLunch/ Relax 
2:30 PMYear End Report LessonsWrite out new Goals 
3:00 PMYear End Report LessonsCreate Focus Goals 
3:30 PMYear End Report LessonsCreate calendar for year 
4:00 PMCheck In/UnpackCreate calendar for year 
4:30 PMYear End Report OthersCreate calendar for year 
5:00 PMYear End Report OthersBlock Calendar out for year 
5:30 PMYear End Report OthersWrite Summary of review 
6:00 PMYear End Report OthersWrite Summary of review 
6:30 PMYear End Report Write up/summariesWrite Thank You Cards 
7:00 PMYear End Report Write up/summariesWrite Thank You Cards 
7:30 PMFacetime Family / DinnerFacetime Family / Dinner 
8:00 PMDinnerDinner 
8:30 PMYear End Report Write up/summariesCigar and bourbon to reflect 
9:00 PMYear End Report Write up/summariesCigar and bourbon to reflect 
9:30 PMRead/go to bedRead/go to bed 

My Year End Review Format

I use Microsoft word to type out my reports. I find using a word processor helps as I bounce around and go back to sections. Writing this out in paper would be a lot harder because I am always going back and updating a section during the process. I have the following in a blank document to make using it each year easier. The key is to make it match the weekly and monthly reviews but also add additional points of reflection.

  • Summary
      • Although I fill out this section last, it’s the first in my report
  • Highlights/Notable Events
      • These are bullet points from the year and the part I do first and find the most important part of the process. I use my monthly reviews, read select daily entries, pics from my phone and Instagram posts to compile this information and reflect.
      • Example 12/31-01/02        New Year’s Trip at DCL at BSDC
  • Ways God Spoke to Me
      • These are bullet points that contain direct words or ways I feel God is speaking to me. These are compiled from my monthly reviews which come from my daily journals.
      • Example 01/03 – “I am in control not you” – walking at Fork Run
  • Scriptures/Quotes
      • These are a list of Bible scriptures and quotes that had an impact on me throughout the year. I used to keep scriptures in the ways God spoke to me but found its not how I like to reflect. I also used to keep quotes and scriptures separate but ended up putting them in the same area since they are sporadic. Sometimes I can got a month without putting anything here and sometimes several of each in the same day.
      • Example
        • 01/03 “Vision without action is just a dream.” John Maxwell
        • 01/05 “Teachablity starts at the top” John Maxwell
        • 01/07 Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do work heartily as for the Lord, and not for men. Knowing that from the Lord you will receive your inheritance as a reward
        • 01/10 “There are no two easy consecutive days in a leader’s life” John Maxwell
        • 01/15 Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the preparation time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”
  • Lessons Learned
      • These are brief bullet points compiled from my monthly reviews and some are added during the review as a I reflect. They are often to the point and I usually do not include a date
      • Example: You need to communicate simply, clearly, and often to reach people.
  • Books Read
      • This is simply a numbered list of the books I read this year and the date I finished this. I do a separate book report and reflect on these in my journals this is more to reflect on what I read. You can also log into Audible if you use it.
      • Example 1. Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill 01/01/2030
  • Things working
      • This is where I list what is working in my life. These are just a list of words that I write weekly which lets me see how I was feeling at that point. They are tied to my goals but not KPIs. They are purposely vague to see where my head space was. I simply pull this from my monthly reports.
      • Examples
        • Journaling (Jan, Feb, March, April, May, June, July, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec)
        • Prayers (Jan, Feb, May, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec)
  • Things not working
      • This is where I list things that are not working in my life, the opposite of above. These also come from the monthly report
      • Examples
        • Exercise (Jan, Feb, March, April, June, July, Aug, Sep, Oct, Nov, Dec)
        • Stress (Jan, Feb, March, June, July)
  • Scores/Tracking
      • This is taken directly from my monthly review which is taken directly from weekly reviews.
      • Example    J F M A M J J A S O N D
      • Leader –     6 6 7 7 7 5 7 6 7 6 6 7 = 6.42
      • Husband – 3 2 5 6 7 5 5 5 6 6 5 6 = 5.08
  • Stats
      • This is taken directly from my December month in review and from my previous years review. I actually leave part of this blank and update after the I finish the December month in review at the end of the year. This should be the key KPIs for goal progress, clear and easy to measure to review over the years. I recommend no more than 5. The should be lag indicators showing the results of your actions.
      • Example    Previous Year                     December                           Change
      • HR                             65                                55                                     – 10 BPM
      • Weekly Steps 58,155                              72,345                                   +14,190
      • Weight           241.4 lbs/32.1% BF          216.5lbs/21.5% BF             -24.8lbs
  • Top 5 Most Influential People in My Life
      • A number list of the 5 people influencing my life the most. Getting this to 5 makes you really think. I also write a thank you card at the end of the process to each person on this list thanking them for pouring into my life.
  • Influential Honorable mentions
      • A bulleted list additional people influencing me. I also write them thank you cards. These do not have to be people you meet with. Sometimes this short list includes an author or podcast host that is impacting my life.
  • Top 5 people I hang out with the most
      • A bulleted list of people I spend the most time with
  • Circle of Friends
      • A bulleted list of my close friends
  • Mentors
      • A bulleted list of my mentors. I also write them thank you cards.
  • Mentoring
      • A bulleted list of people I am mentoring
  • L3 Mastermind Group
      • A numbered list of the current members of my mastermind group. I include a date they joined if they joined in the current year and after the numbered list, I include a bulleted list for anyone left the board during the year.
            • Abraham Lincoln
            • John Smith (Joined in May)
            • Jane Doe (left April)
  • Advisor Mastermind Group
      • A numbered list of the current members of my advisor mastermind group. I include a date they joined if they joined in the current year and after the numbered list, I include a bulleted list for anyone left the board during the year.
    • Abraham Lincoln
    • John Smith (Joined in May)
    • Jane Doe (left April)
  • Truth at Work
      • A numbered list of the current members of my Truth at Work group. I include a date they joined if they joined in the current year and after the numbered list, I include a bulleted list for anyone left the board during the year.
            • Abraham Lincoln
            • John Smith (Joined in May)
            • Jane Doe (left April)
  • Commitments
  • Beratung Team
      • A numbered list of the current members of my team. I include a date they joined if they joined in the current year and after the numbered list, I include a bulleted list for anyone left the board during the year.
            • Abraham Lincoln
            • John Smith (Joined in May)
            • Jane Doe (left April)
  • Beratung Advisory Board
      • A numbered list of the current members of the Beratung Advisory board. I include a date they joined if they joined in the current year and after the numbered list, I include a bulleted list for anyone left the board during the year.
            • Abraham Lincoln
            • John Smith (Joined in May)
            • Jane Doe (only served to April)
  • Big Wins
      • These are taken from the notable dates list to be a list of big wins. This should be a list that is less than 20 (mine are typically around 10). This just helps to see the highlights of the year.
      • Example
          • Ran a 50k Race
          • Daughter was born
  • Speaking Events/Interviews/Podcasts
      • Numbered list of the dates and what I spoked on for public speaking events as well as radio and podcast interviews
  • Teaching
      • Numbered list of the dates and courses I taught
  • Preaching
      • Numbered list of the dates and locations of times I preached the Gospel throughout the year.
  • My Favorite Activities
      • High level short (10 or less) bulleted list of things I enjoy doing to see how it changes over time and see if I am spending time doing the things I love.
      • Example
          • Boating
          • Skiing
          • Camping
  • My Dreams
      • High level short (5 or less) bulleted list of things of a bucket list/BHAGs to get an idea how these change overtime. My bucket list is longer and detailed in my goals
      • Example
          • Buy a Deep Creek Lake House
          • Mission trip with Abby
  • Top 5 Favorite restaurants
      • I keep this to five because it’s a fun exercise making me think and I love seeing the change year to year.
    • Honorable Mentions
        • Just bulleted list of places we love to eat. I love to eat at restaurants and I love to look how it changes over time so I want to have more than 5 to review
  • Top Apps
      • A short, bulleted list of apps I use to reflect on what I learn and changes from year to year.
  • Podcasts I listen to
      • A short, bulleted list of podcast I listen to reflect on what I learn and changes from year to year.
  • Clubs I belong to
      • List of clubs I belong to such as country clubs, social clubs, sportsmen’s clubs.
  • Races I Ran
      • Simply list races I ran with times.
  • Top Ten Goal Review
      • I copy and paste my top ten goals. I then rate them on a scale of 1-3. 1 means I did not make meaningful impact on this goal or changed the goal. 2 means I made meaningful impact on this goal but did not achieve it. 3 means I achieved it or surpassed it. I then write a short explanation of the goal.
    • Examples
      • Run a full marathon by May 31st
        • 3 I ran a spring and a fall Marathon. My times were not what I would like and next year my goal will have a time associated with it not that I accomplished this feat
      • Eat Healthy 80% of time by logging every meal and staying under my calorie goal daily Monday – Friday, eating vegetables with every meal M-F and for at least 2 of 3 meals on Saturday.
          • 2 I logged most meals and stayed on the calories most of the days and lost 20 lbs by doing so. However, I did not do it every weekday and did not add vegetables to every meal.
  • Logs and Information
      • Includes all the logs above plus KPIs from my company’s yearly goals

Reflecting on the report


After finishing my end of year review, I spend time reading through it and reflecting on it. In doing so I often make minor changes and additions. As I am doing this and during the report creation itself, I am jotting down ideas of things I would like to change to help me create next year’s goals. This puts me in the mind set to review my previous years goals and start to create my new goals. If you do not currently have goals, then you can skip right to the goal creation process. Its important to reflect on what you did before you decide what to change in your life.

Review of Goals


Once done with my report and having reviewed it, I then move on to reviewing all my goals from the previous year’s using the method I explained in my top ten goals process. As I am going through this, I often keep a note pad full of ideas for the next years goals.

Creating New Goals


After finishing the report, reviewing it, and now having reviewed my progress on previous years goals its times to create this year’s goals. My process is simplified to:

  1. Dream

  2. Organize

  3. Clarify

  4. Review

  5. Focus

  6. Share



My process starts with a “spaghetti approach”. This comes from the idea that when cooking spaghetti, you can tell when it’s done by throwing it against the wall. Some of them will stick if it’s done.

This is my approach to starting goals. Just brainstorm what you would like to change in your life. I do not think about a time frame or try to confine myself or clarify them. I often have some notes written down from the prior few weeks as I start to think about my end of the year review and I have notes from the review process. Its important to write down anything you are thinking and think big and long term. This is not the time to set specific goals.



Once I feel I have spent enough time to gather all my thoughts, I then break them down on a word processer in the categories of my life. At this point, I do know worry about if the goals are reasonable or clear. My categories are

        • Vocation Goals
          • Beratung Goals
          • Non-Profit boards I serve on Goals
        • Faith Goals
        • Family
        • Personal/ Health
        • Finances
        • Trips
        • Long Term (2 Years or greater)
        • Bucket List
          • Experiences
          • Trips
          • Running Events
          • Events/Sports
          • Hunting Trips



Once I have them in this framework I can then work on each goal. I want to make sure they are SMART goals.

        • Specific: The goal you set should be specific, and you shouldn’t be able to misinterpret or confuse it
        • Measurable: The goal should allow you to track your progress
        • Attainable: The goal needs to be realistic
        • Relevant: A relevant goal relates to your values, dreams, and ambitions
        • Time-bound: There needs to be a target date for completion

To do this I start making them very clear and time bound. Then check to see if it’s realistic by looking at what actions I would need to take to make this happen. For example, saying you want to eat healthy or loose weight or work out are not SMART goals. Examples include

        • Replace eat healthy with Eat Healthy 80% of time by logging every meal and staying under my calorie goal daily Monday – Friday, eating vegetables with every meal M-F and for at least 2 of 3 meals on Saturday.
        • Replace loose weight with weigh 215 lbs by June 1st.
        • Replace work out as run 3 times a week for 6 months straight.



Once you have made the goals smart you want to reflect on if the goals are results or actions. If they are results you will need to create additional goals to get to the actions. This part is where I find a lot of people that actually create SMART goals fall short. Break it down to actions. For example:

        • To achieve the eat healthy goal above, you may need to read a book on healthy eating by a certain date, start logging calories consistently or get an accountability partner to help you by a certain date or hire a coach by a certain date.
        • To achieve the loose weight goal, you may need to do the above or you may need to start working out.
        • To achieve the work out goal, you may need to find an accountability partner by a certain date, join a gym, read a book or create a workout plan by a certain date first.

Once you have made your goals SMART and you have broken them down to actions, check to see if it’s reasonable to make this much change in 1 year. If not, then move the goal to long term (greater than 2 years) and create goals to move you towards that.

Once I have done this, I will review all my goals to see if I feel comfortable with what I came up with.



Then I create my top ten goals. I start by taking the one goal I really want to achieve and then make sure it is a BHAG which is a term coined by Jim Collins standing for Big Hairy Audacious Goal or also called a stretch goal. This is the one goal that is 50/50 if achievable and will take a lot of focus and work to achieve but also make me get out of my comfort zone and stretch to get to. Because of the size of this goal there are typically other goals that support this achievement.

This is created by defining one WIG, which is a coin termed by Chris McChesney that stands for Wildly Important Goal. This is one goal you focus your effort on. I create a WIG for each part of my life personal, family and work. They should revolve around the BHAG.

I have found and most books I read along with most high-level leaders have taught me you can only focus on 1 goal at time. To get there I go through this whole process. If you try to focus on more than 1 goal a quarter, you will not make reasonable progress.

Almost everyone starting with goal setting refuses to follow this advice. I challenge them by if I see you on the street, I ask you your goals. If they do not roll off your tongue and when they do are not SMART, then you are not focused on it and most likely will not achieve it. Creating goals is about growth and change not about creating them. Without action and results, goals are just dreams.

This will give me 3 WIGs for each quarter and then I take 1 annual goal to make my BHAG. This gives me my top ten goals. Sometimes I will have less than that which is even better. I review the 3 WIGs daily and the top ten weekly. Also, with some of the goals you may accomplish them but make sure you go out the whole quarter. Example: if your goal is to start counting calories. You need to do it at least 90 days before it becomes a habit, and you can focus on something else.

To be clear, you keep the other goals and review them at the midyear and end of year review, but they are only reviewed at that point to see what you are doing. The focus goals will get you there. For example, I make a goal to run a marathon. In doing so I may lose weight, eat healthy, or meet a workout goal. These all happened because I was focused on the goal of running the marathon.

After I am done creating my goals, categorizing them to areas of my life, clarifying them as SMART goals, reviewing them, creating my WIGS, BHAG, and Top Ten I then create a one-word theme. This is a guiding principle I use to focus throughout the year. For example, it could be intentional meaning your making every decision in the lens of how it impacts your life or it may be prune where you are focused on getting rid of commitments and creating more gray space in your life. Whatever them should be cohesive with your Top Ten goals and just creates a meaningful easy way to keep yourself on track throughout the year. This is vague and gives you guardrails unlike a goal that is clear, and time bound. This is more philosophical and why its called a theme and not a goal.



Once you have completed your goals, it’s important to share them with others and have outside accountability throughout the year. You can create an accountability partner where you keep each other on track or join a group focused on doing this as well.

Put Into Action


Next step in my review is creating my annual calendar and time blocking. This has been something I have just started 2 years ago and learned from Ashby Daniels. Now that I have reflected on my prior year and created my goals, I need to lay out my calendar to achieve results. I use an excel file for everyday of the year and color code them by…

  • Quad II (This is a reference to Quadrant II from Steven Covey’s four quadrants. This is important not urgent planning time. For example, this time spent on the review would qualify as Quad II)
  • Family (This would include family trips, time off with family or family events)
  • Personal (This would include any time blocked off for myself such as a traveling to a sports event)
  • Work/Open (This is a day that would I am working or not classified)
  • GSD (This is an acronym for Get Shit Done meaning this is a day blocked off to work on things)

I feel in things that are already planned like vacations or work trips and then color code anything that is not planned. This allows me to see high level how I am spending my time and make sure it aligns with my goals. For example, if I want to be present in my family’s life do I have enough days blocked off to ensure that?

I then take the same process into my weekly calendar and block it off by times. I block of the same color codes on a weekly basis. For example, if I am do not have enough time to work on client service work, I need to block that time off on the calendar or if I am wanting to train for a marathon, I need to block off all the runs on my calendar.

This creates guardrails and helps you to tell your calendar how to spend your time instead of your calendar telling your how to. I then on the same excel spreadsheet list all 52 weekends of the year to share with my wife and get a glance at how we are spending out family time.



The final step of my review process is to express my gratitude to all those that helped me survive or thrive that year. I write thank you cards to those mentoring me, the most influential people and anyone else that I feel lead to during the process. After writing each card I spend time praying over that person. Do not skip this part!

Voxer Assist


A bonus tip/tool is often I when I am in the whirlwind of life, I may not be able to journal that day or I can only do it while driving, or I have thoughts while exercising. I use an app called Voxer that lets me send myself voice notes that I can review when I have clear time to journal.



The key thing for me is consistency. You need to take time daily to reflect and course correct, or you will end up drifting through life and not living the life God has called you to live. You were designed by God for a purpose and journaling is the best tool I know to help you discover and fulfill this purpose. In summary here are my insights.

  1. I believe every person can benefit from journaling

  2. There is no one size fits all method, find what works for you

  3. Explore different methods and adapt to what works for you

  4. It takes years to perfect your method because you can’t get there without trying

  5. Consistency is king. Better to have daily entries with one sentence than 1 day a month with 10 pages

  6. Give yourself grace if you are starting

  7. Weekly reviews and annual reviews are the most important part, but the daily reflections are necessary to complete them

If you found value in this blog, please share it with others so they can grow and develop as well. I would love to hear your method or things you do differently. Feel free to share feedback with me on LinkedIn.

More Posts

The Ugly Couch

Our Ugly Couch A part of our culture here at Beratung is called the Ugly Couch.  It’s a term we use to call each other

Goal Setting

One of the key parts of my annual personal growth process that has helped me be intentional and accomplish more is goal setting. My goal setting


“As I share with you my journaling process and how it came to be, one of the key takeaways is there is not a right or

Stay up to date with Beratung Content

By submitting this form, you are consenting to receive marketing emails from: . You can revoke your consent to receive emails at any time by using the SafeUnsubscribe® link, found at the bottom of every email. Emails are serviced by Constant Contact
Scroll to Top