Rate Your Year Like a Movie Critic – Retrospectives, not Resolutions, for 2019!


The end of the year is an unusual time of year. Our behaviors change – we shop like crazy, eat lots of fattening stuff, don’t exercise, stay up late, and then we become reflective about our lives. This usually results in the joke we all laugh about, namely, resolutions. As the year draws to a close, we decide for the first time that we better start living intentionally, we put a little thought into, say a few things out loud, and that’s the last we hear about it. Maybe we fill the gyms across the land…through January.  Maybe it’s time for a new way to create your 2019 resolutions.

Before you embark wasting oxygen on meaningless resolutions, why not try something different? Retrospectives!

The Retrospective is a core practice from the Agile panoply of practices and is a family of techniques and a structure for looking back in a constructive, fun way. With some tweaking, I’ve adapted this to my family’s retro, which we’ve been doing for over five years now. It’s simple but has a great effect.

So what is it?
First, we respect what has been done, what we’ve seen this year. I call this owning the ground we’re standing on. We are where we are. Embrace it. Celebrate the positives!

Second, we’re looking for some level of honest feedback and perspective about doing even better. We do this from the folks closest to us, family or friends, and during the event look for opportunities to help one another. Obviously, you must be in a trust-rich environment for this to work.

The event takes 1-4 hours, depending on your group size and tolerance for introspection. Err on the side of shorter duration, since certain personality types will quickly bore of this, yet others can do it for half a day. If you’re looking for something that’s better than plain-old resolutions, this is it.

Since you can do this annually, or more often, it pays to make it fun. This year I’m using the “Movie Critic Retrospective” adapted from the wonderful agile website retromat.org. Once you saw that title you can imagine what goes into it. My recommendation is to keep it simple. Check out the image below:


Movie Review Retrospective
Movie Review Retrospective

1. Genre – was your year a horror film? (hope not!), a drama, a comedy, hero’s journey, or what?
2. Theme – in just a few words, what the theme for your year? Mine is navigating loss (dropping my kid off) to change and succeed professionally.
3. Twist – What didn’t you see coming this year that blew your socks off? What surprised you, good or bad?
4. How was the ending? I say the last quarter of the year counts here, including Christmas. End strong, or with a whimper?
5. Personal highlight – ending with the positive, what’s the favorite thing you did or truth you lived that stands out to you? For me, it was hard to come up with one so I did like three of them.
6. Finally, the number of stars and your recommendation. Would you recommend that year for other people? You could even take this to the next step and average your scores in your group and come up with a rottentomatoes-esque review of the year as a whole.

This is a fun way to retro on the year, and one that’s far better than just setting your 2019 resolutions. There are ways you could easily extend this idea, given how much time you have. For example, youtube.com has a year rewind reel ( though it’s gotten terrible reactions to it, the most disliked video ever on youtube). Spotify has a wonderful service of giving you data analytics into the music you’ve listened to of the year. What if you played some of those for your family during the retro? What’s your most listened to song of 2018? And don’t be afraid to even make a trailer if you’re technical – something better than what FB does – for your year. What photos emerge as the signature moments of your year. Sort your photos by month and pick one per month. Then show them during your retro. Note: Make sure each member of the “team” has even amounts of time, and that you all provide feedback.

For the forward-looking portion of the Retrospective, pretend that you’re now the director of the sequel of last year. You want to learn from your errors or learnings from 2018. What can you do differently to make your year better?

Try to elicit feedback from those around you? Are your plans for the sequel realistic enough to get done, but big enough to be exciting? Are we pushing the envelope? One last thing – keep the movie poster/plan for 2019 paper out! Pin it to the wall, put it on your refrigerator, anywhere that you’ll look at it every day, and maybe actually follow it. A best practice would be to update the “plan” every month, but that’s a topic for another time.

Let’s not settle for a B-movie, but a critically acclaimed, major blockbuster for 2019! Let’s go!

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