Sunny Side of The Stream: The Annual Review — Pursuing Personal Growth in 2024

By Aliya Kuykendall Published on January 6, 2024

Dr. Brown’s end of the year article, “Make the Most of Your Life While You Can,” was timely for me. I had just been chatting with a friend the prior evening about the fact that she is doing an annual review. She bought this annual review planner by This Holy Homestead. It’s quite beautifully designed and she tells me it’s exactly what she didn’t know she needed. She encouraged me to review my life in 2023 and determine how I can pursue greater flourishing in 2024.

How to Get Started

If you’re interested in doing an annual review, check out the pretty planner my friend got or read this how-to guide by Todoist here and find their free template here. The idea is to consider what you learned and accomplished in the past year and make goals for the coming year. Suggested starting points for gathering information of the past year include going through old photos, calendars, and places where you’ve logged activity, like an app for your gym or even your Google Maps Timeline, which shows where you’ve been.

This is My Life

Since chatting with my friend about doing an annual review, a thought has come to my mind several times: “This is my life.” How I’m living right now is how I’m stewarding the life God has given me. And one day, God and I are going to review my life together, and He will repay me based on what I’ve done and whether my motive was love for Him. Are the thoughts, habits, hobbies and other ways I’m investing my time and energy worthy of that investment? I can choose now to pursue the giftings God has given me in greater measure. I can honor God by making the most of the life He’s given me. How should I live?

I imagine mentorship, habit tracking and an annual review could be hugely beneficial to many as we seek to honor God with our lives in 2024.

Being led by joy is a theme I’ve connected with. My mother told me a while ago that when she was a young woman, she felt that God led her by what brought her joy. I remembered that conversation with my mother as I recently listened to Remnant Radio’s interview with Jackie Pullinger, a missionary and author of Chasing the Dragon. She said that she knew God was telling her to be a missionary, but she didn’t know where to go.

A Christian minister advised her to buy a cheap ticket aboard a ship that was going to lots of places and pray that God would show her where to get off. The idea seemed so exciting to her, she thought it seemed like “cheating,” as she thought being a missionary couldn’t be that much fun. Then when she got to Walled City inside Hong Kong, which she described as being crime-ridden, she realized she was very happy to be there, as elated as if someone had told her she was beautiful or it was her birthday. One of the hosts remarked about the theme of joy in Pullinger’s life. Even as she was taking up her cross to follow Jesus, she was led by joy.

Dreaming With God

So often I’ve thought about my life in terms of doing what is expected of me by God so that I know I will do what is right. I remember a college friend discussing “dreaming with God” about our lives. I remember that I didn’t know what to dream of. I just wanted to do what’s right, whatever that is. I wanted God to give me instructions so I could follow them and be blessed. Dreaming with God? I wasn’t sure what to do with that. There are so many possibilities, and I really just wanted the “right” answer to fall from God into my lap. I don’t know if I was willing to fully do the work that dreaming with God involves.

But now, about six and a half years after graduating college, I know it’s time to rethink how I might dream with God. He’s given me giftings, and I know it honors Him when I use them. He created this beautiful world, and I know it honors Him to explore and wonder at it. He has given me life, a gift, and if I believe it’s a good gift, then shouldn’t I honor Him by unwrapping it and enjoying it as He intended?

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As I’ve thought about my desire to grow and meet more people, I’ve considered seminary and biblical language classes. The thought has nagged at me: how could I manage to take classes while working full time? What classes would be most meaningful to take? I love theology and learning what the biblical authors intended their readers to understand. The idea of studying biblical languages intrigues me. When I mentioned this to my friend, she encouraged me to go for it if possible. I’m exploring what taking on that as an adventure for 2024 could look like.

Accountability Through Mentorship and a Habit-Tracking App

As I look over the past year, I believe that I need a little more adventure in my life — something that a new language class could offer. Another thing I realize is that my goal last January to build healthier habits, like good sleep hygiene, didn’t go over so well. Something I’m trying this year is a habit-tracking app called stickK. You pick a habit or thing to accomplish, pick how often you’ll have to report how you did (for going to bed on time, every day), optionally pick a friend who will hold you accountable and be your “referee” and invite others to see your progress and be your “supporters.” You can put money on the line for further motivation. StickK will be sending my friend $10 for every day the rest of January that I don’t make it to bed on time. I feel pretty confident that I’ll be going to bed on time this month!

Several weeks ago I asked this friend to be my mentor (have weekly phone calls with me) because I look up to her in the way she’s living her life. I think between having committed friendship/a mentor, taking time to evaluate my last year and what I hope for this coming year, holding myself accountable with stickK, and exploring opportunities to learn alongside others, 2024 is shaping up to be a year of hope and growth. I imagine mentorship, habit tracking and an annual review could be hugely beneficial to many as we seek to honor God with our lives in 2024.


Aliya Kuykendall is a staff writer and proofreader for The Stream. You can follow Aliya on X @AliyaKuykendall and follow The Stream @Streamdotorg.

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