2011: A Year in Review

written by Bari Tessler January 10, 2012
2011: A Year in Review

Whether your financial life includes a family, a business, or just your wonderful self – it’s time to sit down and take a look at the year you’ve just completed. 2011 is complete, and with it, another chapter of your money story ends.

To help you make the most of lessons learned, accomplishments celebrated, and to set you off into 2012 on strong financial footing, allow me to guide you in an annual financial review.

We’ll review 2011 in 3 stages:

  1. Zoom Out
  2. The Numbers
  3. The Celebrations

As usual, as you prepare for this process, make your physical environment as comfortable and supportive as possible. Good food and treats, candles, music. Whatever helps you be relaxed and present.

Okay . . . ready?

Phase One: Zoom out

In this first phase, you’ll want to simply recall the year you’ve just completed. Identify the highlights.

What were the game-changers, the big happenings that occurred in your financial life? Money Milestones of 2011.

Sit with and contemplate the big picture context of the year.

Here are some prompts to help you get rolling with this:

  • What were the general themes?
  • How did you enter last year? Did you plan ahead? Or was it a year to simply go with the flow?
  • What big transitions occurred? Marriage or separation? New baby? Loss of a parent, or inheritance?
  • Did you make a big investment this year? A car, a house, a big vacation?
  • Did you pay off or take on a debt this year?

Take a breath. Breathe in 2011.

Before we move into a more detailed review of the year, sit with the themes you just uncovered.

Phase Two: The Numbers

Yep. Get out those Income and Expense reports*.
Add chocolate. Body check-ins.
Reflect. Learn.

If you set intentions or projections at the beginning of 2011, take them out and see how what you planned/hoped/intended for a year ago compares to what actually happened.

Look at your income, take a deep breath.

Look at your expenses, take a deep breath again.

Here are a few invitations for contemplation as you courageously look at your numbers:

  • A friendly reminder: Breathe. Stay grounded and open. Check in.
  • For most of us, it’s not easy to look at numbers. Add a huge dose of compassion and understanding.
  • Take an inventory of what’s working, and what’s not.
  • As always, seek to understand your emotions here, your story here.
  • Which goals and values are you living right now and which ones are you not?
  • How well did you meet your initial goals and intentions? Were they realistic? Did they prove over time to uplifting and empowering, or did they tend to set you up for disappointment and overwhelm?
  • What did you learn about yourself?

What’s coming up?

Oof. Good work. Pat yourself on the back for being willing to look at and learn about your numbers.

*If you’re lost on how to get a hold of the numbers (and your head started spinning when you read the words “Get out those Income and Expense Reports”), you may want to consider working with a great bookkeeper.

Phase Three: Celebration

If you’re a go-getter, self-improver type, you’ll likely want to skip this. If you tend towards self-criticism, you may have a knee-jerk reaction that there’s nothing to celebrate, and find yourself spiraling into everything you did wrong.


Dig a little deeper.

I promise you, there are victories waiting to be celebrated. I know this. I see this over and over. The small baby steps you’ve taken add up to huge changes!

We somehow forget about all of the little baby steps but they are so important to name, honor and speak into the space.

Get them down on paper.
Nibble on chocolate.
Do a little victory dance.

Here are some examples of baby steps worth celebrating (many of them are examples from clients of mine who initial felt they’d accomplished nothing!):

  • Finding all of the small expenses that you are not using anymore and cancelling them (gym membership, video rental)
  • Saying ‘no’ or ‘yes’ to personal growth investments (aka: business investments) from a place of consciousness and empowerment.
  • Regularly looking online to make sure there is enough funds in each account – simply interacting with the numbers more often.
  • Having more check-ins with your partner – so money conversations are happening more often and feeling easier
  • Forgiveness around past money experiences and decisions
  • Re-working your bookkeeping systems to include your values
  • Setting up a great system for tracking and reviewing your numbers
  • Setting up a consistent money date – one client of mine started celebrating “Wealthy Mondays” where she attended to money tasks for 30 minutes each week

Got a good list of victories worth celebrating? Keep writing.

Truly take time here to honor everything that came to pass in your financial life during 2011. Honor the goals met, as well as the lessons learned.

Recognize that your money story is a living, breathing aspect of your life – that you are growing and learning here.

It’s always fascinating and deeply helpful to end a year with a review of what transpired over the course of the year.

Can you “be with” the victories, surprises, and disappointments?

Take time to tie up loose ends. Forgive. Resolve.

Start this new year with awareness and clarity about the year behind you.

When you’re complete here, it’s time to map out this beautiful new year.

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