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Year-end review makes sense for everyone

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As if conducting a review of year-end personal accounts, many people are now taking stock of their successes and failures, hits and misses over the past 12 months.

The original list of New Year Resolutions – for those who had one – often provides the most logical basis for review. Realistically, only a few of us probably go through the ritual of making such a list these days, but that shouldn’t prevent us looking back and assessing what went well and what we might have done better. Just like judging corporate performance, it makes sense for an individual to set goals, measure progress, and aim to improve every year.

On the financial side, it is only natural to sort out bank accounts and review net gains and losses. Professional investors do this for their stocks, bonds, property, any other holdings, and the same principle applies for someone keeping an eye on their personal wealth.

But how well you have done during the past years isn’t just a matter of finances. It is also important to reflect other aspects of life and things you value such family, friends, career, and one’s general sense of happiness or fulfilment.

For instance, looking back, you might take particular pride in completing a training course or qualification, passing exams, or contributing articles for publication. Other causes of satisfaction might simply have been reading some great books, watching inspiring movies, travelling to new destinations, acquiring specialist skills, or just finding a new group of friends. All such achievements or experiences can be chalked up as positives and, in some way, will have changed you for the better.

If you believe in altruism, you will have almost certainly have found some joy in the success of others. You don’t have to be a Buddhist or a follower of any other religious doctrine to take satisfaction from good deeds and offering help unconditionally to those in need. Such actions make the world a better place and reduce suffering, whatever your initial impulse and motivation.

While taking stock, though, it is also worth realising how lucky you really are, even if in some respects the past 12 months may not qualify as the best ever. Maybe something quite trivial like a hole-in-one on the golf course gave you a thrill and a special memory to cherish forever. And even if you didn’t win the company’s talent show, you may still have had a great couple of weeks rehearsing for the big night.

Reliving such memories can be fun or a little painful, but for each of us it is also about learning the right lessons, understanding ourselves, and becoming just a bit wiser.

And looking ahead, we can set new expectations and aim to build on what we have done or achieved. However rewarding the experiences of the past year, we should believe the best is yet to come. There should be no limit on dreams, and if things have been difficult recently, now is the time to remember that every action matters, every word counts, and every idea could make a difference.

Vincent Li

Vincent is an ordinary salaryman and an amateurish author who religiously believes in the virtues of writing.

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