My Favorite New Year’s Ritual: Creating an Accomplishments List

by | Dec 17, 2014 | General Productivity

Takeaway: Take 15-20 minutes to make a list of everything you accomplished in 2014. You’ll feel amazing, and even more motivated to keep the ball rolling through 2015.

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes, 2s.

Every year around this time, with vacations kicking in and work slowing down, people begin to take stock of how the year went and start planning for the next one.

While setting goals for the new year is important (and I wrote a totally free book on keeping your New Year’s resolutions here), I think it’s just as important to look back on the year and think about what achievements and milestones you’ve already reached.

I often find myself falling into a trap of focusing only on how I can become more productive rather than looking back on what accomplishments my productivity has already lead to. Goals and productivity are important, but it’s just as important to look behind you at what you’ve accomplished already—your accomplishments are, after all, the reason you invest in your productivity in the first place.

Enter the Accomplishments List. For the last couple of years, in addition to setting a few goals, I’ve made a list of everything I accomplished over the year. The ritual is dead-simple:

  1. Set aside 15-20 minutes with only a pen and paper
  2. Work your way backward through the calendar, and recall all of the great things you did and accomplished over the year


It’s even more rewarding when you do the ritual with a partner or someone close to you. I recommend trying to come up with at least 10 accomplishments or milestones, regardless of how small they are (it’s quite easy once you get rolling). On mine, I keep everything from:

  • Career achievements and milestones
  • Personal goals I accomplished (e.g. lean muscle mass achievements, number of books read, etc.)
  • Anniversaries
  • Trips
  • Milestone birthdays (like that I turned 25 yesterday!)
  • Interesting people I met
  • And so on

After I made my first Accomplishments list a couple of years ago, I kept the list on hand throughout the year; reviewing it every Sunday and adding items to it regularly. It quickly became one of my favorite elements of my maintenance day—not only because it let me give myself a good pat on the back every week, but also because it motivated me to be more productive the next week so I could have even more great things to reflect on. Especially when it’s far too easy to be hard on yourself as you pressure yourself to make changes and become more productive, the Accomplishments List is a lot more helpful than it appears on the surface.

Accomplishments2Productivity is important, but often it’s easy to lose sight of what accomplishments your productivity leads to. Setting aside some time to look back on all of the times you kicked ass throughout the year is the perfect way to kick off every week—and I think doing so will only serve to make you more productive.

A couple of housekeeping things: I’m still working on an article for my Vegetarian experiment—this experiment is turning out to be one of those that drag on, because I’m still experimenting with different levels of vegetarianism! Also, sorry about how crappy the comment feature below is, things should be fixed up in the next week or two :-)

Written by Chris Bailey

Chris Bailey has written hundreds of articles on the subject of productivity and is the author of three books: How to Calm Your Mind, Hyperfocus, and The Productivity Project. His books have been published in more than 40 languages. Chris writes about productivity on this site and speaks to organizations around the globe on how they can become more productive without hating the process.

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