For New Year’s Eve this year, we went out to dinner and reviewed our family’s Annual Report. After stuffing ourselves on burgers, wings and pizza, we got home and all crashed on the couch and spent some time looking over a slideshow on our TV of favorite photos from trips and major events from the past year.
I think it was probably our best New Year’s Eve, ever.
Companies issue Annual Reports to keep shareholders informed of how things are going with the business and to help provide a more macro, bird’s eye view of the business. We do the same thing with our family’s goals and for the past few years each December I’ve spent a few hours piecing together an Annual Report for our family that we review together.
Our report is a simple, one-page document listing our trips, Activities and some financial data.
Our report is a simple, one-page document that lists all the trips we went on and any major activities we undertook together as a family or as individuals. I also break out a series of datapoints that I’ve been tracking for many years, including how much we spent on certain budget categories like gas, groceries, dining out and travel.
It’s interesting to look at these numbers and compare them with previous years’ data.
I also list our family’s resolutions and each of our favorite memories from the previous year.
Putting together the report and the Greatest Hits slideshow is pretty easy with iPhoto. Towards the end of the December, I park myself in front of my computer with a cup of coffee and filter out the photos from the current year, generally I’ve got at least a thousand if not several thousands photos to review.
Using the event/location grouping features in iPhoto I scroll through each major trip. I then list that trip on the annual report (this photo review process helps me to make sure I don’t forget to list any of the smaller trips). Then I pick out a few photos and add them to a Greatest Hits photo album for that year.
The entire process takes an hour or so and has historically resulted in a Greatest Hits photo album with about 150 photos in it.
Reviewing the annual report and the photos helps us to extend the effects of our adventures
Sitting down together as a family and reviewing the Annual Report and watching the slideshow of that year’s greatest hits benefits us on multiple levels. It helps us to keep our priorities in focus and allows us to make sure that we learn from any mistakes we made as well as plan more adventures for the coming year and gives us an opportunity to discuss what we really liked about trips we took this year.
Also, spending time reviewing the photos together extends and amplifies the joy of past trips. We get to squeeze a bit more pleasure out of trips we have already taken. This, combined with our extended planning process on most trips allows us to get so much more enjoyment bang for our buck/time on our adventures.
We enjoy the lead-up and anticipation. Then we enjoy the trip. Then we get to enjoy looking back at the trip. Using this process, a simple 48-hour camping trip ends up bringing us many more hours of enjoyment than just those hours of the trip itself.
Anyway, the Annual Report has been a great tool for us as a family and really helps us to guide our trip planning and adventures for the coming year. If it seems a bit too nerdy (and well, let’s face it, it is pretty nerdy), then at the very least I suggest putting together a Greatest Hits of the Year photo album and looking through it with your family at the end of the year.
The review process, whether it includes the Annual Report or just the photo album can be a great opportunity to express gratitude and appreciation for all that you’ve done as a family in the past twelve months.